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THE HISTORY OF KENSINGTON PRAIRIE

The History of Kensington Prairie was, in parts, edited from a report prepared for Mr. J. Brown's Social Studies 11 class at Lord Tweedsmuir by Linda Taylor in 1972–73. Other students who wrote on similar topics over the years were: Sandy Porcher, J. Dore, 1978, Kevin Hilton, 1977.


Kensington Prairie was named by Ed Farr (an early settler in this district) at the suggestion of Henry T. Thrift. Thrift came out to visit Ed Parr's place and said that it reminded him of Kensington in England. (See The Parr Family) The opening of the Coast Meridian Survey Trail by J.W. Trutch in 1859 during the general survey of townships in the Lower Fraser Valley, in anticipation of settlement in the wake of the Fraser River and Cariboo gold rushes, encouraged logging and early agricultural settlement in Kensington Prairie. (See Coast Meridian Road)


Logging

In 1887 logging operations in Surrey (by the Royal City Mills Co. head–quartered in New Westminster) were moved from Elgin to Kensington Prairie. On the hill just south Kensington Prairie was one of the finest stands of timber in all Surrey. Initially, oxen logging was the standard, but with the completion of the CPR in 1885, surplus equipment became available and a small locomotive was purchased.


Curley

The Royal City Planing Mill's locomotive "Curley" with Bob Harvie the engineer in 1894. Logs were initially hauled to the logging ditch but after the completion of the New Westminster and Southern Railways logs were hauled to the Port Kells booming grounds.


"Old Curly", as this first logging engine was named, was brought in and was used here for hauling logs, instead of the old ox and horse teams. It ran on the Royal City Railway, which started on the corner of Stayte Road and Brown Road and ran up to Hazelmere near Brown Road and present Hwy. 15. Also, a 12 foot wide logging ditch had been constructed along what is now Blake Road (from the logging camp on Brown Road to the Nicomekl River). It was built by Chinese workers, brought in by the logging company (these workers later settled in this area to vegetable farm). "Old Curly" would haul the logs to the headwaters of the ditch and with a build up of water, the logs would be flushed down from the uplands where they would be moved down by hand through the lower portions of the ditch into the Nicomekl. (See Logging) The logs were then floated to Elgin for booming and movement to the mills at New Westminster. This was done for several years, until "Old Curly" was moved to Halls Prairie Logging Camp. With the opening of the New Westminster Southern Railway in 1891 Curley was used to move the logs up to the Fraser log dump at Port Kells.


Logging was an important means of support for most of the people who lived in this area. While they were clearing their land and getting it ready for farming, they could earn money by working in the logging camps. Later, after their farms were started, they could sell their beef and other farm products to the camps. Also, the "flats" were dominated by scrub and were never actually logged by a logging company, so farmers could cut down any large trees on their property and sell them to make money.


Farming

Kensington Prairie was originally one of the early pioneer agricultural districts in Surrey. Initially, markets were limited. Logging camps needed fresh beef, milk, butter, and local produce in season. Demand for horses for their operations along with hay and grains to sustain them provided an important source of income. The alternate market was Blaine.


As transportation improved Kensington became a dairy farming area. (Farmers also grew a few potatoes and other crops for home use and market.) There was no vegetable farming in this area until the early 1920s when Matt Kennedy and some Chinese workers of his (who had been raising vegetables around Vancouver) moved in. At that time there were very few of the insects that plague vegetable farmers here today, (exception being the potato beetle, which they had then, but is not present today). Modern machinery and fertilizers started to come into this area in the late 1920s. Most of the machinery was originally owned collectively. Each farmer would pay for part of the cost of a piece of equipment and then they would all share it.


The Nicomekl River

The Nicomekl River was used for logging and for farmers to ship their farm produce to outside markets (mostly New Westminster and Victoria) and bring in supplies. (See Water Transportation) The first boats went up this river in 1878, and the river was navigable up to the bridge over Halls Prairie Road, 184th Street.


On the Nicomekl River, in the area of Kensington Prairie, dykes were starting to be built in 1899. There were two systems of dyking on the Nicomekl; the Municipalities' and the local Kensington Prairie Farmers' (who thought they could do it cheaper than the municipality). A dyking tax was placed on all who benefitted from the municipality's dykes (all the farmers on the flats in Kensington Prairie). (See Surrey Dyking District)(See Dyking Jurisdictions) Flooding from the Nicomekl became a problem in this area only after the uplands were settled and large scale clearing of the trees off the land.


Kensington Prairie School

In Kensington Prairie the first elementary school classes were held in Thomas Fallowfield's house, on the corner of Coast Meridian Road and Brown Road. The first actual school building was built in 1887, on the corner of Coast Meridian and Mud Bay Road, on one acre donated by Ed Parr. It was a one room school house, with four rows of seats, that held on the average 20 to 30 students. It was supplied with drinking water by a barrel which caught rain water coming off the roof and was heated in winter with a cast iron stove burning cord wood. Due to its proximity to the Nicomekl River, the school was subject to seasonal flooding. Some of the early school teachers were: M.J. Matheson (1887), E.E. Morrison (l888), and Minnie Allan (1889). Several of the later school teachers were student doctors who were trying to earn enough money to get through school.


In 1914 the present Kensington Prairie School on Brown Road and Coast Meridian Road replaced the old one. The old school was becoming far too crowded and was flooded regularly. The new school house had two rooms (twice as big as the old one) and in 1956 an addition of several classrooms was made on it.


Kensington Prairie School

The school was built on land originally belonging to John Keery.(the School District bought a section of it to build the school on). (See Schools to 1900)


There were three trustees for this school (as for each in Surrey). They were locally appointed people who looked after just this school,(the roads were far too rough to have a central school board with members who would come out regularly and look after all the schools in Surrey). In 1906 Surrey School Districts were centralized and elections for these school trustees were started. After eight years of Kensington Prairie elementary school, students could go the secondary school in Cloverdale. There were no buses, or horses and buggies that went daily, so students had to board in Cloverdale. Until the late 1930s very few of the students in Kensington Prairie went to high school; they were expected to start working on the farm or in the house as soon as possible.


Roads

Coast Meridian Road 168th Street Coast Meridian Road, or trail was slashed as part of the land survey J.W. Trutch conducted in 1859. Prior to 1877, very few improvements had been made to the trail. However, settlers coming from the south made use of it to access their preemptions. Rafts were built and early settlers used these to cross the Nicomekl. In 1877 contracts were awarded to local settlers for grading a twelve foot wide road bed and putting in drainage ditches. By 1886, the section of Coast Meridian around Kensington Prairie (north of Brown Road) was a puncheon road ("paved" with split cedar logs and covered with gravel). The road south of Brown Road was still, however, little more than a wide trail. When the road was eventually paved, sometime in the late 1950s, the logs were removed and gravel was put in as the base.


Brown Road 32nd Ave. In this area the municipality (especially Mr. Kuhen, the councillor for this District at that time) put through Brown Road in 1948–49. They put gravel on it and later, paved it at the same time Coast Meridian was being paved.


Mud Bay Road 40th Ave. Mud Bay Road was put in by the municipality in this area in 1911–12. In the late 1930s, parts of it were paved (the areas that were not swampy). Only recently was it paved completely.


Blake Road 164th Street. Blake Road grew up along the old logging ditch. It was widened and had gravel put on it in the early 1920s. It was paved in 1968.


Churches

The first Methodist services in Surrey were held in the first Kensington Prairie school, in 1891, by Reverend Wm. Hicks. Rev. Hicks held regular services here until 1893, then, Reverend J.P. Bowell was appointed and he held services for several more years. The nearest church for the settlers of Kensington Prairie was a Church of England, on the corner of Mud Bay Road and Pacific Highway. There were also churches in Surrey Center and Cloverdale that they could attend.(See Christ Church)


Doctors

Kensington Prairie was serviced by the doctors who lived in either, Cloverdale or Blaine. Since there were no phones in this area for quite a long time, doctors had to be sought on horse. In this area there were also two midwives (Mrs. Robert Fallowfield and Mrs. Ed Parr) Kensington Prairie (and all the rest of Surrey) was served, until 1946, by the Royal Columbian hospital in New Westminster. After 1954, Kensington Prairie (and the rest of South Surrey) was served by a hospital in White Rock until others were built (Surrey Memorial).


Mail Service

Settlers in Kensington Prairie were first able to pick up their mail regularly, in Cloverdale, in 1891. A few years later, rural mail delivery in this area was started. Settlers were contracted for this job and received 15 dollars a year. The first mailman in Kensington Prairie was Sam Woods. His house became the post office and once a week, he would get the mail off the New Westminster and Southern Railway and deliver it.


Entertainment

Kensington Prairie School served as a community hall for the neighbourhood and social activities were held here,(eg dances, card parties to earn money for Christmas presents for school children). Also, surprise parties were often held at peoples' houses. There were a few bear runs in this area and every Sunday, people from surrounding neighbourhoods would come here with their horses and dogs to chase bears. As the roads in this part of Surrey became better, social activities in the larger communities (Cloverdale, Blaine) could be attended more regularly.


Supplies


Most of the settlers in Kensington Prairie brought their supplies from New Westminster while they were there selling their butter, eggs, and other farm products at the Farmers' Market. Supplies were also bought in Blaine (not in Cloverdale until good roads were built to it; before the early 1920s the only road into Cloverdale was an old logging trail that was flooded for several months of the year.


Police and Fire Protection

The roads in this area were not good enough to allow quick communication with the larger communities and effective Police and Fire protection. Concerned citizens would therefore get together and apprehend any criminals or put out any fires.


The First Settlers


Kensington Prarie 1900

Charles Arthur Carncross

CHARLES ARTHUR CARNCROSS was born, Plainville, New York, September, 1852. He died in Cloverdale, B.C., February 14th, 1937. Mr. Carncross came west to San Francisco via the Panama in 1875 and very shortly after came north to Victoria, B.C. He worked at hand–logging and steam boating up and down the Coast until 1877 when he settled on Burrard Inlet and worked at the old Moodyville sawmill. In 1879 he came up the Nicomekl River and took up land known at the time as part of the Hookaway place, later known as; part of the Kelly farm on the Johnston Road in Surrey. The following year he bought a farm on the Nicomekl River at Kensington Prairie, which he operated until 1912. Following the sale of his farm he moved to Cloverdale and entered the real estate and insurance business and later went into partnership with Mr. Fabian Hugh in the firm of Carncross & Hugh.Hugh and McKinnon During the early days of travel up the Nicomekl his farm was a well–known center of hospitality to the many travelers who utilized this river route into the back country. Mr. Carncross served on many public bodies and was one of the real pioneers of the municipality who hewed his farm out of the woods and contributed his full share to the development and public well–being of the district. He was Reeve of the Municipality in 1901. P 70 Land of the Peace Arch. John Pearson, for the Surrey Centennial Committee, Cloverdale, BC 1958(See Water Transportation)

Ed Parr

Edward Parr was a prospector who came from California to take up land in the neighborhood around the same time. Dick Fallowfield said his grandfather Parr came from California to British Columbia looking for gold. Miner Edward Parr had immigrated to the United States from Cornwall, England staying for a time in Wisconsin, then travelling west to California after gold was discovered there in 1848. When he came to B.C. during the Cariboo gold rush in the early 1860's, Parr left his wife and children in the States. After staking several claims he went back to California, brought the family to Canada, settled them in a rented house in Clover Valley (Cloverdale), Surrey, and returned to his gold–hunting only to find his best claims had been "jumped" in his absence. "If he had been a Canadian citizen this couldn't have happened", Dick explained. Telling more about his gold–struck ancestor he said that Edward Parr stayed in the interior working on roads for awhile before joining his family in Surrey. Then, with older son and namesake he filed on a half section west of the Coast Meridian Road along what is now the Kensington–Mud Bay Road. Edward Parr Sr. died in 1911. (See Parr Family)

Robert and Thomas Fallowfield

The Parr land was in the vicinity of where the Fallowfields settled later and in the course of time Robert, the older brother, married Miss Frances Ann Parr. Recalling his parents' 50th anniversary in 1937 Dick Fallowfield said their wedding day was June 21, 1887. As with many other early settlers in the municipality, logging was a mainstay for his relatives, a way to earn money while proving their land, he noted. By the time they homesteaded on Kensington Prairie, the area around was alive with logging and mills working for the Royal City Planing Company headquartered in New Westminster. During these early times all the Parr and Fallowfield men worked for the camps at one time or another. He noted that on the hillside just above the Kensington Prairie School and south beyond North Bluff Road in a wide sweep east and west overlooking Semiahmoo Bay there was "the finest stand of timber you could imagine!" While logging camps were operating, his father supplied them with meat, some raised on his own land, the rest obtained from neighboring farmers, Dick said, recalling how difficult delivery was in those days with no proper roads, and camps scattered all over Surrey. His dad had to drive his team and wagon many miles round–about to reach his customers. The price of beef when compared to now is hard to believe, he added, "Even as late as 1905 beef sold around 8 cents a pound!" At that time his uncle, Henry Parr, was also in the meat supply, Dick said. *#34;He had a butcher shop in Cloverdale and after he sold out he opened a grocery store which he ran for many years." One of Cloverdale's blocks of stores was built by a Parr. When the Fallowfield brothers took up their land in Kensington Prairie there was a log house on the piece Thomas homesteaded where the two lived until Robert married, when he built a house on his own quarter section. Robert and wife Frances had a family of four girls: Jennie, Edna, Clara and Mary Alice, and one boy, Richard, all growing up on the land their father, grandfather and uncles pioneered. Robert died in May, 1944; Frances earlier, in September, 1939. Only two of their children survive today. Alice (Mrs. Johnson) lives in Cloverdale and Dick, born June 23, 1889, still resides on part of the family homestead. Thomas Fallowfield, the younger of the pioneering brothers, married the former Maggie Kyle from eastern Canada, and their family of five has remained in the general area of the homestead but none of their father's land is in their possession today. Daughter Flora (Mrs. A. Klopp) is in Surrey, sons Walter in Surrey Centre, Charles in Langley, Frank in South Westminster and Alfred in Langley. Thomas Fallowfield died July 14, 1951. His wife predeceased him January 14, 1934.

All ten Fallowfield children went to the first little Kensington Prairie School built on a half–acre corner of Coast Meridian and Mud Bay roads donated by Grandfather Parr. A treasured class photo shows Dick surrounded by sisters and cousins on his last day of school which was just before his 13th birthday. "It was taken by my father", he said. While growing up Dick Fallowfield saw much of Surrey's early history in the making: the farming, the logging operations, and the ships (including stern–wheelers) going up and down the rivers where here and there lift–spans and swing bridges permitted passage. He noted that the large boats would turn around on the Nicomekl "where the river widened in the vicinity of Johnston and Mud Bay roads" and go backwards for the rest of the run to and from the terminus at Halls Prairie Road. He spoke of the ditch from the camp on Brown Road running alongside Coast Meridian to the Nicomekl which shortened the distance in getting logs to the river. Built by Royal City mills before his father and uncle came to Kensington Prairie, the ditch went right through his Uncle Tom's land, he said. He recalled that in his youth Coast Meridian Road from the foot of Surrey hill to Brown Road was "paved" with split cedar logs. This was called a "puncheon road", he explained. Describing a small island formed in the vicinity of Boothroyd Road where the Nicomekl had a sort of horseshoe bend, he said that a ditch built there by the farmers to shorten the route for their small boats was developed by time and tide into a canal deep enough for larger craft, and so the island was created where today Surrey resident Lincoln Hardy has his farm. Life was not lacking in excitement or in events. He told of a World War II accident when an air force fighter pilot went down close to his home, killing the pilot and putting his house in danger from the resulting fire. "Another Kittyhawk crashed over at Woodward Hill a short time after", he recalled, adding that the wartime airfield was "at the Patterson P;ace in delta. P136–139 Along the Way… Margaret Lang Hastings. Revised edition, D.W. Friesen & Sons Ltd. Cloverdale, BC 1981 See the Fallowfield Family

William Collishaw

He was a young man filled with that pioneer spirit, determined to make his way in a new country. Jobs were scarce; wages were small. He went to work with the construction gangs on the railroads, for $1.00 per day. On November 25th, 1871 he married Elizabeth Bevridge in Newbury, Ontario. They had a family of eight; four sons and four daughters: Robert was born September, 1872.


The William Collishaw Family

From Ontario Mr. and Mrs. Collishaw came to New Westminster, where they resided for a short time. Mr. Collishaw's first job in British Columbia was working with a construction gang.
"You will all be murdered." That's what William Henry Collisaw was told when he took his wife and children with him to the Queen Charlotte Islands almost 100 years ago to preach the gospel. But they weren't, and when Collisaw died in 1922 he had given nearly half a century to his Christian mission. It was in England in 1872 when he read a newspaper advertisement placed by the Church Missionary Society that he decided, as a good Anglican, to become a missionary. He went to missionary college and at the prompting of his instructors, he married a deaconess and they left for this untamed land in 1873. They stayed twenty days in Victoria before departing for Metlakahtla on November 1, where Willian Duncan was instructing 450 Indians in the ways of the Lord.
Undated clipping obtained from Surrey Archives.
Early Collishaw home The restored Collishaw home

The early Collishaw home and the restored home.


William Collishaw came to Kensington Prairie in 1886 and took up land along Mud Bay Road. "He was often nicknamed the Onion King, for he was the only one in this area who could successfully grow that vegetable."

John Keery

John Keery was born in Ireland, 1861, and came to Surrey in the 1890s. He first worked in the Royal City Mills logging operation on Kensington Prairie and later farmed on the Coast Meridian Road and on several different quarter sections.

John and Emily Kerry

John and Emily Kerry


Mr. Keery served as School Trustee and Councilor for a number of years. In 1910, a farmer approached the council for aid because his horse fell through a bridge on Kings Street and broke a leg. There were no funds in the Municipal coffers with which to compensate the farmer, Councilor Keery proposed that every Councilor donate the $10.00 owing them for their service on the council. This they all agreed to and the farmer got another horse. John Keery died February 26, 1940, survived by two sons and one daughter. P129 Land of the Peace Arch. John Pearson, for the Surrey Centennial Committee, Cloverdale, BC 1958.


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