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A History of Hugh & McKinnon Ltd.

The History of Hugh and McKinnon was edited from a report prepared for Mr. J. Brown's Social Studies 11 class at Lord Tweedsmuir by Reg Nott in May, 1979. Reg's grandfather, Doug Nott was manager of the Langley branch of Hugh & McKinnon when he retired in 1973. This article was published by the Surrey Leader on Wed. July 4, 1979 under the byline of Tweedsmuir's Centennial Highlights.

Additional contributions and all the photographs were provided by Alan Davidson.

Hugh McKinnon 1947

Hugh & McKinnon Real Estate and Insurance is one of British Columbia's oldest real estate companies. It began shortly after the turn of the century in Cloverdale as Carncross and Company.


Edwin Milan Carncross

Edwin Milan Carncross and his wife Nettie moved to Surrey in 1888. They took up 160 acres along the Nicomekl River and farmed in the vicinity of what is now 32nd Avenue and 160th Street. Edwin and Nettie sold the farm in 1895 and moved to Cloverdale. They bought the Doc. Sutherland home which was located at 5830 Kings Street. Edwin started up an insurance office at the back of his house.


Edwin worked in Surrey Municipal Hall and in October 1897 he was appointed Municipal Clerk. In 1909 he built an office on Clover valley Road (present Pacific Highway 15) in Cloverdale at what is now 5665 176th Street. It was in this office in 1909 that Edwin established the first real estate and insurance business known as Carncross and Company. It is said that Edwinchose this business because he envisioned people traveling and settling in Cloverdale. At that time Surrey's population was 1291 and the total assessment role was $33,000.


1909 Carncross office Front of Carncross office

Carncross office Hugh & McKinnon 1974

Charles Carncross

Charles Carncross came into the business with his brother in 1916. Charles and his wife Mary had moved to Surrey in 1897. They had rented one-half of the Hookway Estate, which was located on the Nicomekl River. Charles later bought the farm and worked it until he sold it in 1916. Charles became the full owner of Carncross and Company when his brother Edwin sold the business to him after suffering ill health. Edwin and Nettie moved to California in 1916. As well as farming, Charles had been a member of Surrey council in the years 1898-1899, and in 1901 he was elected Reeve of Surrey. In 1917 Charles was appointed Notary Public.


Fabian Hugh entered the real estate business in 1917 and the firm's name was changed to Carncross and Hugh. Fabian Hugh had served in the Royal Canadian Flying Corps in World War I before he joined Carncross and Company. Fabian had been a Notary Public in Ontario and he received his Notary Public Seal for the Province of BC on March 17, 1919. Fabian assumed the duties of Secretary–Collector for the District of Surrey in 1921.


When Charles Carncross retired from the Real estate firm in 1929, Fabian was left to run the business with Frank McKinnon who joined the firm in 1926. The firm's name was changed to Fabian Hugh.


Frank McKinnon

Frank McKinnon started sweeping out the office, lighting fires while going to school. He joined the firm on June 15, 1926 as an office clerk and he remained with the firm for the next 50 years. For the next 10 years Fabian Hugh and Frank McKinnon were the entire staff and carried on the real estate, insurance, conveyance and dyking work in the same location between Neville Curtis' grocery store and Dann's Radio and Bicycle shop. In 1934 Frank became a full partner in the firm but the name remained as Fabian Hugh.


Frank and Doris McKinnon

This is a picture of Frank and Doris McKinnon taken in January 1986. This was possibly on Frank's 85th birthday.


Frank put in terrible hours as there was no hours of work act or minimum wage. Each partner drew out $55 a month to live on. In 1936 Frank McKinnon married Doris and it was decided to ease his work load by hiring an additional employee. A call went out to Surrey High School to recommend a student who might fit into the office. The school recommended Alan Davidson. With the Great Depression in full swing Alan had little hope of going to University and gratefully agreed to an interview. It was arranged that Alan would come in before school to light the fires, go to school in the morning and work the office in the afternoons and Saturday. He did entry level chores such as dusting, sweeping, and learning to type.


A young Alan Davidson

This picture shows Alan Davidson in the late 40s or early 50s. He had returned from duty in the Canadian Air Force and was now a partner in the firm. He had joined the firm as an office clerk. He lived in Tynehead and used to ride a bicycle from Tynehead to Cloverdale and back, in the summer time, for a period of two years. In the winter he boarded in Cloverdale.


On September 3, 1936 Alan Davidson was employed as an office clerk, Alan specialized in the insurance branch and until his retirement. Alan was the Manager of the Insurance Operations. Alan left the firm during World War II to serve in the Canadian Air Force. On his return in June of 1945, Fabian Hugh and Frank McKinnon offered Alan Davidson a 30% partnership in the firm. Alan was to be in charge of the Insurance Branch, Frank was in charge of the Conveyance and Real Estate Department, while Fabian was in charge of Estates and Dyking Work. Fabian Hugh was appointed Police Magistrate effective November 1, 1946. Because of the limited work load, this was a part time appointment and could be conducted along with the firm's work.


Edwin Carncross and Frank McKinnon

Edwin Carncross, on the left, was the original owner of the company that was to become Hugh and McKinnon. He opened his first office in 1909 and sold it to his brother Charles in 1916. Frank McKinnon was a member and partner in the firm from 1926 to 1976. A number of company names appear on the door. These were additional companies that operated out of the Fabian Hugh office.


Office 1947

By 1947 the firm had grown too large for the original building on the west side of Pacific Highway, so they moved to the east side of the Highway to 5678 Pacific Highway. Fabian Hugh is on the left and Frank McKinnon is on the right.


The company became a limited company in the early 1950s and at that time the name officially changed to Hugh & McKinnon Ltd.. Each of the principals in the firm, Fabian Hugh, Frank McKinnon, and Alan Davidson became 1/3 partners. Bill Hyndman had become a member of the firm after World War II. In October of 1950 Mr. W.R. Hyndman was appointed general manager of the insurance department reporting the Frank McKinnon. Fabian Hugh had been appointed a Provincial Magistrate and Justice of the Peace on a full time basis and as a result had to resign from the firm. The younger men of the firm purchased his interest completely in 1954. In 1956 Hugh & McKinnon Ltd., took over the J. H. Watson and A.E. Insurance Agencies. In 1957 Alan Wilson was appointed as a Director and in 1954 Fabian Hugh retired from the Directorate.


Fabian Hugh

Fabian Hugh had joined Carncross and Co. in 1917 and the name changed to Carncross and Hugh. When Charles Carncross retired in 1929 the firm became the Fabian Hugh office. Fabian became a Provincial Court Magistrate in 1946 assisting Magistrate Henry Bose on a part time basis with Juvenile Court work and Provincial Magistrates duties. These grew to become full duties and by 1954 he had divested himself of his interests in the firm.


Hugh & McKinnon 1960

The expansion of the insurance and real estate department necessitated a division of companies and two separate entities were established in 1960. The former Coles Bakery building just south of the Pacific Highway Office was acquired and remodeled with the insurance occupying the entire building.


Announcement Office Staff

This photo shows the office which included the old Coles Bakery building. At the back of the office is Tom Archer on the left. Tom, in time, would leave the office to take up the position of manager of the White Rock Water Works. Frank McKinnon is in the middle and Alan Davidson is on the right. On the right side from front to back is: Alan Wilson, a Director of the firm; Doug Nott, later Manager of the Langley Branch and Grandfather to Reg Nott who wrote this original research essay; and Tom Small at the back. On the left, from front to back is Rees Hugh, Larry Donovan, Jeannie Sullivan, Joyce Thompson, Elaine Loehendorf, and Alice Christianson who in her last 20 years was Alan Davidson's secretary.


Staff 1960

Staff 1960

These pictures are of the 1960 Hugh & McKinnon office Staff.


Dorothy Morris, in the picture of the accounting and conveyancing staff, is shown on the left. Dorothy joined the firm in May 1941 to take the place of Alan Davidson, who had left to join the RCAF. Her original position was as a clerk typist but due to her skills and interest she took over most of the office duties of the Dyking Districts and became a very effective member of the Conveyancing Department. In November 1966, she was given an indefinite leave of absence due to a serious illness. She was a great team member.


The 1960s and 1970s saw a great deal of expansion with branch offices opening in White Rock in 1960, Vancouver in 1961, North Surrey in 1962 and Langley in 1969. Hugh & McKinnon Ltd. also purchased Mills-Burton Insurance Agency of Fort St. John. By the 1970s Hugh & McKinnon Ltd. was the largest Real Estate and Insurance Office in the Fraser Valley. At one time 17 businesses operated out of the same office. The federal tax structure at the time encouraged this type of multiple enterprises.


1977 Christmas Party

This was the Christmas 1977 Hugh & McKinnon Christmas Party for the whole firm of 125 staff. Frank insisted that all celebrations should include the whole Hugh & McKinnon family. By 1977 the staff, their wives, children etc meant a very large Christmas gathering. At the center table, from the left, is Doris Davidson, Frank McKinnon, Doris McKinnon, and Bill Sutherland.


Frank McKinnon retired from the real estate business in June of 1976. Frank retired exactly 50 years from the day he was first employed. On the last day of work Frank was piped to work and right to his desk by his son Ron. Prior to his retirement Frank sold the Real Estate arm of the Company to Bill Sutherland. Bill had the Real Estate background and the financial support necessary to successfully operate the business. Alan Davidson continued as head of the Insurance arm.


On January 1st, 1977 Hugh & McKinnon Ltd. opened their new offices at 5746 176 A Street in Cloverdale, one block east of the original offices. At its peak Hugh & McKinnon had 19 companies operating out of its offices in the spectrum of businesses from real estate, insurance, mortgages, finance, investment, dyking etc.


In the December of 1978 Hugh & McKinnon Ltd., was bought by and merged with an eastern company by the name of Richards and Melling Inc. Richard Melling was established in 1928. The company has offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. Alan Davidson, by agreement, remained with the company for the next five years to ensure a smooth and orderly transition. Within those five years the name of Hugh & McKinnon was dropped. The business was centralized in the Vancouver Office and the local offices in Langley, Cloverdale and White Rock were sold. The new owners of the White Rock Branch retained the Hugh & McKinnon name, but focused on real estate only.


The White Rock branch was opened in 1960 under the management of Mitch de Moissac, who was elected a Director to the Realty Company in 1964. In the fall of 1968, a larger premise was required resulting in a move next door within the Fennel Block south of the corner of North Bluff and Johnson Roads, opposite the Central Plaza Shopping Centre. In February 1969 a full branch office for the insurance department was opened in the new premises at White Rock with Glenn Baldwin as manager.


After the sale of the firm to Richard and Melling Inc. in 1978, Bill Sutherland bought the White Rock Office and relocated it to a new building at the corner of 140th and 16th Avenue (Nicol and North Bluff) in 1979.


In 1990 the present owners Bruce Robinson and Greg Long bought the shares of Hugh & McKinnon Realty Ltd. from Larry Colby (who had bought the shares in 1988 after Bill Sutherland's death). As the only remaining Hugh & McKinnon office, in 2010, the Peninsula office has 35 agents manages nearly 4,000 strata lots, 200 rental properties and 15 commercial properties. As well, the company has pooled investor funds and owns and manages a shopping centre in Walnut Grove, a shopping centre in Brentwood Bay, a rental townhouse project in West Kelowna and an apartment complex in Kamloops. In 2007 the company sold the Kelowna Lakeshore Inn which it owned and managed for 8 years to the Menteo Resort.


In October of 2013 the company provided management services to the owners of over 4,000 Condominium units, 300 rental properties and numerous commercial properties.


Through diversifiying its business ventures, Hugh & McKinnon has manages to stay stable and successful through the Great Depression; world wasr and financial crisis that have made many copanies disappear. 2013 marks its 104 years serving the Fraser Valley community.


The insurance arm is operated by Schill Robinson Insurance.


White Rock Branch looking east White Rock Branch looking west

Hugh and McKinnon Staff 2010

The Hugh & McKinnon staff 2010
Peace Arch News Oct. 20, 2010, "2010 Marks the 101st Year of Hugh & McKinnon Realty"


Alan Davidson Alan Davidson joined Fabian Hugh's office in 1936 and remained with the company until 1983. He began as an office boy, and upon his return from Canadian Air Force duty in June of 1945 he became a 30% partner. When the company became Hugh & McKinnon Limited he was a 1/3 partner. He was responsible for the insurance department as well as being a director of the Company. This picture of Alan was taken at his retirement as a Director and the 1986 Chairman of the Cancer Control Agency.


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