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The History of Surrey's Museum and Archives

An old muzzle loader found at Sullivan in 1923, and a rusty six–shooter picked up on a hill south of Cloverdale were the nucleus around which the Surrey Museum's collections evolved. Artifacts were picked up by municipal work crews and brought to Claude Harvie, Municipal Engineer, who even as a young man was interested in Surrey's history. These items were the beginning of the collection that eventually would form the basis of the Surrey Museum's artifact collection. "Too many people are of the opinion that there is no history in this area while the truth is the area is rich in history," Doug Hooser.


With the opening of the new Municipal Hall in Cloverdale in 1912, all fairs and celebrations were held on the grounds next to the old Surrey Centre School located at 168th Street and 60th Avenue. The 1881 Town Hall was central to these celebrations. With the relocation and establishment of the fairgrounds in Cloverdale, the phenomenal success of the Cloverdale Rodeo, the improved oval, and the grand stands, the focus of community celebrations moved from Surrey Centre to Cloverdale. The old hall had ceased to be the seat of local government and for a time was only used during the Fall Fair for storage and displays. With the growth in importance of Cloverdale and the expansion of the Fairgrounds, the old hall in Surrey Centre fell vacant.

(See Municipal Halls)
Town Hall

The Town Hall was located near the site of the present Surrey Centre Elementary School. After the Municipal Government was moved to the new hall in 1912, the old Town Hall was used by the Fall Fair Committee for storage and displays.


In 1937, while in conversation with J.J. Brown, Tom Currie, Henry Bose and Councillor Tom Smith, Claude Harvie suggested that the old Town Hall should be preserved for the future by moving it from its site at Surrey Centre to the present Fairgrounds and using it as a museum. Tom Smith brought the matter before Council and funds were appropriated in 1938 for moving and blocking up the building. It became an unofficial museum and fair display building that fall. The old Hall became the first Museum building and in future evolved to be the nucleus around which the Museum building expanded.


After the Hall was moved to the corner of the Fair Grounds at 176th Street and 60th Avenue, it remained much the same. It housed a very mixed collection of artifacts. Nothing was catalogued and the building was open to the public only during the Agricultural Fair to let people see the exhibits laid out in corners, much like an abandoned farm house.


Claude Harvie

Claude Harvie and Bill Munro, however, persevered and kept their eyes open for any articles of historic value which could be added to the collection. Claude Harvie was one of the first to see the value of preservation. He started collecting artifacts during his 42 year career with the municipality, and when he retired in 1963, he continued to research historical issues and add to the storehouse of knowledge at the Surrey Museum and Archives.


The necessary impetus for improving the museum was the 1958 British Columbia Centenary. The Lower Fraser Valley Agricultural Association suggested at a municipal meeting that the first municipal building be considered a Centennial project. A centennial committee to be appointed by Surrey will consider the possibility of operating a full–time museum on the Cloverdale fair grounds. A proposal to this effect has been submitted to Surrey Council by E.E. Aldersly, secretary of the Lower Fraser Valley Agricultural Society. Mr. Aldersly suggested the present museum be placed inside new quarters to be constructed on the fair grounds. In this way the original hall and its contents could be on display at all times. The Columbian, June 27, 1956.

It was felt that the renovation and permanent maintenance of the 1881 Town Hall would not only be a very fitting memorial for Surrey, but when placed inside a permanent structure, would provide a meeting place for people throughout the year. The old building would be under permanent supervision and open to the public daily as a Museum.


A proposal for erection of a Surrey Museum as a permanent Centennial project was ratified Tuesday by Surrey Municipal Council. It will go to Victoria for authorization by the BC Centennial Committee. The Surrey Leader; November 14, 1957.

The Surrey Centennial Museum

In the middle of March 1958, the old livestock barns at the Surrey Fair Grounds were moved in order that the building of the Centennial Museum could get started. The lowest tender for the museum job, by a slim $85, was awarded to Kingsway Construction for $24,915.


Centennial Museum Concept

This is the concept drawing of what the completed Centennial Museum should look like. The old Hall was given a coat of paint and became the center of a new U shaped addition. An east wing was added first and the west wing added ten years later. The name Surrey Centennial Museum was adopted at this time. Initially the expansion left an open courtyard in the middle of the U. The courtyard was covered in later.


Museum in the 1960s West wing on the new museum complex

But before the building could become a Museum it was taken over by the Courts. The Surrey Magistrate's Court occupied the west wing on the new museum complex until 1963. In 1962 a new Municipal Hall was constructed overlooking Panorama Ridge near the junction of No. 10 and King George Highway. The 1912 Municipal Hall was renovated and taken over by the RCMP and the Magistrate's Court in 1963. Finally the building could be used for its intended museum purpose. (See Surrey Justice System), (See Municipal Halls)


When the court and the RCMP offices are vacated from the adjacent portion of the museum there is considerable work which must be completed prior to the reestablishment of the museum in these quarters. It is hoped that this work will be completed to enable the museum to open in May, 1963.
Surrey Leader, September 30, 1962.

The establishment of a Museum in the 1881 Town Hall and the expansion of the building did not immediately solve all problems. As early as 1958 Hugh & McKinnon stated that there was no insurance on the contents of the Museum. The Surrey Local Centennial Committee felt there was no point in insuring the artifacts outside of the tables, chairs and display cases (these would be the building furnishings as distinct from artifact collections). This changed only in 1962, when a retiring gunners' mate in the Royal Canadian Navy convinced Surrey Council the building and its scanty collection of mementos should not go un–protected.


Doug Hooser was born in the R.B. McLean house located near the Nicomekl River. He joined the Canadian Navy in 1940. During his last year of service in 1960–61, he was employed as assistant curator of the Maritime Museum at Esquimalt. After leaving the service he was briefly employed at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.


Doug Hooser

Doug was a collector at heart, but he also had the tremendous advantage of knowing many of the old–timers in Surrey as he grew up here, and through his parents. He had an innate ability to get along with older people, and his interest in their past led to some substantial and unique donations to the ever–growing collection.


Doug Hooser was appointed as the Museum's Director–Curator in 1962 and given $50 a month and told to see what he could do. He began the monumental task of sorting, cataloguing, cleaning and repairing the many artifacts which had been accumulated over the previous 24 years. Initially the curator acted as a secretary, janitor, treasurer and all–round handyman. He scrubbed and polished, begged, borrowed and in general did everything in his power to present Surrey with a respectable Museum. One of his tasks included enlisting the help of BC Penitentiary inmates to restore various articles of the past to their former condition. They were taken there to be restored and Mr. Hooser complimented the prisoners on their quality workmanship. This intensive period of renovation and repair kept the building closed except for special days and group appointments until it was officially opened to the public.


There were several volunteers who assisted in the operation. Some of these people were municipal employees particularly from the Engineering and Road Works Departments. Other volunteers who had a strong interest in preserving Surrey's history also played a role. Gradually over the next decade part–time staff was added.


In July, 1963, the Museum opened to the public on a regular basis. By this time many donations had been received and the main themes of the Museum established. It was to be a showpiece of pioneer life in Surrey. There was also an increasingly important place in the Museum devoted to artifacts relating to the life of the First Nations Peoples living in the area before the coming of European settlers.


Early Publications

The earliest publications were hand producted by the Museum staff. Doug hoped to raise money for the museum. If he found a good manuscript he would take it up to Municipal Hall and Vaida Singmaster would cut gestetner stencils which would then be run off on the museum gestetner, hand colated and stapled. These publications came before the formation of the Museum and Historical Society as after its formation the Society took over role of publication.


Early History of Hall's Prairie Reminiscences of Henry T. Thrift Christ Church Surrey Centre

The reminiscences of Mrs. Margaret M. Stewart reflected on life on the family homestead in early Hazelmere. She named it the Early History of Hall's Prairie.


John Pearson loaned the Society a manuscript dictated by Henry Thrift in 1931 of which there were only five copies typed. The material proved very interesting and could make a fair publication. Subsequently, the manuscript was published with a stapled booklet format by the Society and titled Reminiscences of Henry T. Thrift..


The booklet Christ Church Surrey Centre is the history of the Anglican Dioceses in Surrey Centre. The original manuscript, written on onionskin by an unknown author, was found by Reverend Mason in a mud bank under Christ Church. It was transcribed by John Pearson in 1957 and published by the Surrey Museum Press.


The next expansion of the Museum


A $20,000 extension to the Surrey Museum will be considered by the new Council this coming year. The 1967 budget allowed $10,000 towards the extension of the museum and it is expected that another $10,000 will be budgeted for this year. Columbian. January 10, 1968.

In the winter of 1968–69 a contract was awarded to W. Gillis of Sullivan to construct a further addition on the west side of the 1881 Town Hall consisting of a workroom and office. The addition was officially opened by Mayor W.E. Stagg. Mr. Church was the architect and Mr. H.G. McKittrick, Municipal Manager.


Museum in 1971

The In 1968 the Museum celebrated its fifth anniversary and a new wing of 5,000 square feet was added on the west side of the old hall consisting of a workroom and office. Perhaps the most interesting achievement was the provision by School District No. 36 (Surrey) of a night school program of classes conducted in Surrey history. From these lectures the Surrey Museum & Historical Society was formed.


The Surrey Museum and Historical Society

The Museum Curator wanted an historical society to enable fund raising to access additional grants, and to assist the visibility and public use of the Museum. He was a founding member of the Historical Society and he probably influenced the early constitution of the society. As a non–profit entity, Hooser thought that the society (in theory) could attract more donations to the collections and access grants outside of the auspices of the Municipality, in addition to the funding provided by the Municipality. However, the practical activities of the Society in the inaugural years were to research Surrey history, protect heritage sites, and then to write and publish The Surrey Story. "If we are going to do anything at all about preserving the past we must do something today" was Hooser's rallying cry in attempting to interest Surrey residents in the preservation of the area's history. The Society brought the Museum to the schools and taught the children about Surrey's history by giving lectures and showing artifacts from the past. The Society worked with the Museum and the Municipality to research heritage sites and install Pioneer Markers (cairns) on historic landmarks such as the Semiahmoo Trail and the Old Yale Wagon Road. Another initiative of the Society was the re–introduction of plaques with historic street names; these are still maintained today on such roads as Bose Road (64th Avenue) , Hjorth Road (104th), Johnson Road (152nd) etc.


Surrey Museum and Historical Society Officers in 1975

This picture was taken of the incoming officers of the Surrey Museum and Historical Society in 1975.
In the back row, left to right: Jack Berry, Past President, Wayne Desrochers, Vice President, Directors; Eleanor Craig, Lester Kneeland.
Front row; Vaida Singmaster, secretary; Les Eggleton, President.


The Surrey Museum Historical Society was incorporated by the Registrar of Companies on April 23, 1969. The Society was an arms–length incorporated non–profit society with its own constitution and the Museum was a municipal museum operation reporting to the municipal manager. At first, the Society and the Museum worked closely for promoting history and preservation. However, as the museum and archives operations grew, the complexity and reporting accountability to the Municipality increased. The museum staffing was increased and their focus was more on the activities of museum artifact care, display and presentation.


Fern Treleaven's The Surrey Story Rivers, roads and railways Stanley P. McKinnon's The Surrey Story

The Historical Society commissioned a local author, G. Fern Treleaven, to proceed at once with the writing the history of Surrey. She wrote two soft cover volumes covering different periods of Surrey's history that were published in 1969, and 1970. A third abridged version was published in 1972 but without the author's consent. As a result it was never circulated to wholesalers. Later these volumes were consolidated and published in a hard cover edition in 1978, with the title The Surrey Story. The Surrey Story with an update covering the years 1979 to 1991 by Stanley P. McKinnon was reprinted with a soft cover in 1992 and 1995.


The Anderson Cabin

Restored Anderson Cabin Sheila Hill

The Anderson Cabin was built in the 1870s by Eric Anderson, on the banks of Anderson Creek which flows into the Nicomekl River east of Latimer Road (192nd Street).


On the left, Ray Forbes (right) and Ben Trombley are busy with axe and saw, matching the bottom log and installing the chinking. Both are familiar with log cabins, they lived in them as boys.


On the right, Mrs. Sheila Hill, Surrey Museum staff member poses in Cloverdale Rodeo attire. This building was moved to the Museum grounds in 1971.


In 1970, one of the oldest original cabins in British Columbia was obtained. The Eric Anderson Family lived in the log cabin over 100 years ago. The cabin was lifted from its original site in a field beside Anderson Creek in southeast Surrey where it was in danger of destruction. It was moved to a site adjacent to the Museum. It remained at this location until the Surrey Museum relocated in 2005. At that time a new foundation was laid and the cabin was moved to the new site with improved interpretive context. A story board and a book, The Valley of the Fraser: A true historic narrative from Surrey's formative years by Lorne and John Pearson were produced and published by the Surrey Museum. The tools and the furnishing inside the cabin reflect the story of the Anderson family and the cabin is used in museum programs throughout the year.


Collection of records and memorabilia leads to the Archives.

From the outset, photographs and documents etc were collected and treated as part of the artifacts. There was limited organization and cataloguing. After almost a decade of operation the Archives was established within the Museum. Due to space problems the Archives was initially located in a back room and did not enjoy its proper place until the 1976 addition. Mrs. Lillian Bickerton was hired as part time archivist, working four afternoons a week and cataloguing the unorganized backlog of material. She also began to prepare an index of available reference material.


In June 1975 a contract was awarded to Westward Construction to build an addition to the Exhibition Hall and an Archives Room. This was completed and opened officially on April 8, 1976 by The Honourable W. N. Vander Zalm, Minister of Human Resources, who had been Mayor of Surrey when the addition was approved. Other guests were; Mayor, Ed McKitka and Architect, Paul Rust.


C.H. Harvie Archives Room Door and the plaque

On April 8, 1976, the addition added to the Museum and the C.H. Harvie Archives Room was officially opened. The addition created the north gallery space with the mezzanine and a new foyer. This addition was funded by the Federal Canadian Centennial program (1876–1976). The CH Harvie Room was part of the expanded facility development and it enabled public access to the archival collections. The door into the reference room was plagued to recognize the early efforts of Claude Harvie in supporting the museum and in aiding the development of the collections. The door and the plaque have been preserved and re–installed in the new Archives(2007) Reference Room on the door into the map and media storage room.


The new addition provided an improved public reference room and fireproof vault for archival records storage. In approximately 1985–86 an additional 800 square feet was added to create an archives records storage room (east side of the building).


The 1976 addition was covered by national museum journals.


At the Surrey Museum, on April 8th, several hundred people attended the opening ceremonies for the lon–awaited addition to the museum. With approximately 8,000 square feet of new space effectively designed into the existing building, the overall structure now provides increased display facilities, an archives section and improved offices and workshops. Security and collection care has been upgraded through installation of environmental controls and a closed–circuit TV monitoring system.

Mrs. Daisy Hamre, the assistant to the curator, says her biggest thrill was seeing the extension opened. The badly needed archives and additional display spaces gave the Museum room to function more properly. Mrs. Hamre admits one of her biggest challenges was when people come in and asked, "Where is the lamp my parents donated twenty years ago?"


Surrey Centennial Museum and Archives.

With the 1976 centennial the name changes to Surrey Centennial Museum and Archives. The provincial grant in 1958 gave the opportunity for the word centennial to be used in the name. If it was not officially added at that time, it definitely was by 1976 when the federal centennial was celebrated. There is a bronze plaque from the 1976 centennial in the Archives building and there were bronze letters including the word centennial on the front desk of the old museum building.


An outdoor facility sign was put on the building west and east gable in 1989: Surrey Museum and Archives. This was the first time that the function of Archives was official identified in the building title. Two separate brochures, one for the museum and one for the archives, were produced a couple of years later. The word "centennial" was gradually disused to shorten the name for ease of marketing. Although the name and operation may not have included the word Archives prior to 1987, the collection existed and the operation existed. Archival materials were being collected separately from the artifact collections and two different registers for donations/transfers were kept. De facto, there was an archive although the museum function had greater priority and more profile. This was a common trend in the evolution of museums and archives. Public museums generally were established long before public archival services. The field of museum studies and the creation of museum collections predate the field of archival studies and the opening of public reference collections. The emergence of professional archival training and the hiring of people with degrees in Archival Studies (1980s) began to create the distinctions and clarifications that did not necessarily exist before that time.


After 1989 the name is abbreviated to Surrey Museum and Archives. The word centennial is not used in post 1987.


Surrey Archives

In 1986 Lillian Bickerton celebrated the tenth anniversary of the archives. She had to build from the ground up but acknowledged the help of Don Baird, Simon Fraser University Archivist, and Len Delosier, British Columbia Archives Consultant. Lillian's pleasant smile and helpful manner often gave the researcher the impetus to carry on.


Initially the archives only housed historical documents and photographs pertaining to Surrey, but now it has become the repository for municipal records as of 1984. Lillian took them because they would otherwise have been destroyed. She was working closely with Mrs. Pat Aspinall, the Municipal Records Manager, in establishing a records management system. This resulted in insufficient space and staff. "The archives is currently in a state of flux", comments Mrs. Bickerton, "and we will need a full time archivist in the near future."


Surrey's Centenary 1979

Surrey celebrated its Centennial in 1979

Surrey celebrated its Centennial in 1979 and the Museum was partly responsible for its success. Mrs. Fern Treleaven's The Surrey Story was updated from two small books into one larger one. Rivers, Roads and Railways was also written by the same author during the Centenary. Mrs. Bickerton made good use of the archives by assisting in the research of both books. The Surrey Museum & Historical Society also played a major role in publishing the books.


Some of the Museum's special Centennial projects included lectures on Indian artifacts; a stamp and cancellation display, showing markings from early post offices in Surrey; work and techniques sponsored by various clubs and guilds; and photographs and documents depicting interesting phases of Surrey's history.


In 1980 Mr. Baird, Archivist at Simon Fraser University, initiated a survey of Lower Mainland Archival Repositories. It was his intention to establish a central registry at the University listing the contents of every Museum Archives in the Lower Mainland. A researcher could check the registry and find where a specific item was located. Wendy Johnson, an SFU student, catalogued the contents of the Surrey Museum Archives as part of the program. This project became available to all contributing archives as well as contributing universities.


Photograph donations


Surrey's growth is enshrined in a pictorial history which includes three extensive photograph collections that were donated to the archives in 1982. Mr. Bill Hastings, former publisher of the Surrey–Delta Messenger and photographer for White Rock Sun; along with Mr. Stan McKinnon, former editor of The Surrey Leader; and Mr. Neville Curtis, former photographer for The Langley Advance, presented their negatives and prints.


Donation of photo collections

This picture shows the presentation of a plaque to Mrs. Curtis in recognition of the presentation of her husband's photo collection to the Museum and Archives. Mr. Les Eggleton, president of the Museum and Historical Society, is making the presentation. Bill Hastings and Stan McKinnon, who also contributed their photo collections, look on.


The growth of the darkroom reflects the growth of the museum; Doug Hooser gradually collected the equipment until it became workable. Jack Berry, Tom Bailey, and later Frank Bucholtz, volunteered on a part time basis to develop prints from the old negatives. After their departure Mr. Hastings continued this task on a voluntary basis. However the Municipal Hall frowned on this. In 1985, Mrs. Nina Lewis proudly put her name on the darkroom door as the full time staff member in charge of photographs.


In 1982 the old met the new when the Provincial Government gave the Museum a $10,000 grant to buy a computer. The objective was to have every item in the archives collection recorded to form a permanent record.


HERITAGE FACILITY AND SERVICE DEVELOPMENT

Staffing

Doug Hooser retired in September 1987. From 1962 to 1987 he was a municipal employee reporting to the Municipal Manager. At the time of Hooser's retirement, the staff included retired employees from the municipal hall (e.g. Lillian Bickerton was the Archivist retired from the Municipal Clerks Department; Vaida Singmaster was secretary retired from the Mayor's office; Daisy Hamre was Assistant Curator; Richard Singmaster was janitor and facility attendant and Linda Johnson was the programmer (summer season). With Hooser's departure, the former municipal staff retired again.


Bev Sommer started as Museum Director in May 1987 on contract to the Municipality of Surrey. Sommer was a graduate of Carleton University with a Master Degree in Canadian History. Her previous eight years of cultural work experience included the CBC Archives, museum education leadership at Burnaby Village Museum, Vancouver Museum and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Sommer reported to the GM of Parks and Recreation as a Division Manager, at the same time the staff unionized.


In 1988, additional professional staff was hired. A Museum Educator (Jean Burgher) and an Archivist (Jacqueline O'Donnell) brought career professionals into the operation. In 1990 the staff became part of CUPE 402, the same as all other municipal employees. With each subsequent budget year, the operations grew and additional resources were acquired. A part–time Assistant Curator and an Assistant Archivist were eventually added to the team. Each year, summer students were hired under federal job initiatives grants and projects to present summer day camps and to support collections management were possible.


In the 1990s, the expanded operations enabled some part–time staff to become full–time. A full–time curator was hired and part–time Publicist and Volunteer Coordinator joined the operations. Several part–time staff were hired to support the growing public operations: programming staff were hired to support programs and volunteers, curatorial and archival assistants Public were hired to provide support for exhibits and reference services. Lana Panko was hired as Museum Curator in 1997 responsible for Collections and Exhibitions, Dani Brown was hired as part–time Publicist, and K.C. Gilroy was hired as Volunteer Coordinator.


In 2000, the Jacqueline O'Donnell left the position of City Archivist and the Archives collection was separated to provide distinction in the care and development of community and municipal collections. Two part–time Archivists (Janet Turner and Peter Johnson) were assigned these portfolios. A year later, the community archivist left and the staffing was re–structured.


In 2004 plans for the operation of the new Museum, Archives and re–focussed Stewart Farm (minus the textile collection) were announced and a new staffing structure introduced. The new structure was rolled out in January 2005 with a new Museum Manager, a Curator assigned to the Historic Stewart Farm, a Museum Exhibit Preparator, a new Reference Specialist and support staff for the Archives and an integrated Curator–Archivist overseeing both Museum and Archives collections management.


Operational changes

Textile collection 2005: The Hooser Weaving Center Collection and library was moved to the Surrey Museum new building. The New Museum Manager appointed in 2004 was Jacqueline O'Donnell. The Curator of the Historic Stewart Farm appointed in 2005 was Lana Panko. The Curator/Archivist appointed in 2005 was Peter Johnson.


Staffing has continued to evolve increases in janitorial and building services staff, clerical staff, and programming and service staff hours increasing from part–time to regular and full–time.


Bev Sommer, Manager of Heritage Services Division and responsible for overseeing the administration, operations, budgets and planning for the Museum, Archives and Stewart Farm retired in March 2008. Jacqueline O'Donnell then became Manager of Heritage Services


Administrative Improvements

Several administrative improvements followed the professionalization of the operations. The first Collections Policy was approved in early 1989. Prior, there were no articulated criteria for collections acquisition. The Collections Policy includes a statement of Mandate, adherence to laws, collections acquisitions and disposal processes, conservation guidelines and ethical considerations.


There was a collections acquisitions criteria process prior to 1989, but in 1992 there was a 2 year moratorium on donations because the museum did not have room for new acquisitions prompting the need for a new facility. There was a policy and procedures in place for collections, deaccessioning, conservation, teaching collection, public programming and volunteer management.


By–Law 11331 was passed in 1992. This pivotal by–law formally established the Museum as an official entity of Surrey and delegated authority to acquire and articulates the process for the disposal of collections. This by–law was enabled under the Municipal Act and protects the continuity of collections by requiring Council to approve dissolution by a 2/3 vote of council as opposed to a simple majority vote of council. The by–law also established the Historic Stewart Farm and designated buildings. These contain and display objects from the collections of The Surrey Museum and Archives and are held for use of the public as a museum. The collections of The Surrey Museum and Archive are acquired for and owned by the Corporation of the District of Surrey.


A volunteer program was established in 1989. This enabled the development of programs for schools and the creation of a training program for all volunteers. A Volunteer Policy was development and activity descriptions for volunteers created to ensure clarity of support roles and to avoid conflict or overlapping with staff functions.


Teaching Collections were initiated in 1990. The provision of hands–on materials for interpretive programs has enabled improved learning experiences for visitors of all ages. A Teaching Collections Policy was developed to guide the acquisitions and to define the uses of the materials.


In 1989 a Museum and Archives Advisory Board was established to provide community input into the identification of annual programs and to review collections management issues.


In 2000 a Friends of the Surrey Museum and Archives Society was formed to assist in the capital fund raising campaign for a new Museum.


Service Improvements

Public service improvements included changing and circulating exhibits, increased tours, curriculum programs for schools, seasonal special events, and expanded hours of public operation.


Marketing initiatives were introduced with improved brochures, seasonal flyers and volunteer newsletters. Several visitor surveys were undertaken and facility planning studies were underway. Public consultation helped to define future priorities and directions.


Collections preservation improvements included the creation of a Museum Storage Room, acquisition of shelving and compactable shelving.


Collection information management was improved with the use of Gen cat and then Mini sis collections management programs. The data processing to deal with backlogged cataloguing continues.


Web site development was initiated with the presentation of the Honey Hooser Collections on–line. The municipal web site has also been developed to provide an overview of all of the operations and opportunities in each of the facilities.


The museum collections storage always existed but also spilled over to offsite storage due to lack of space. Since 2005 the artifact collection is housed in 3 facilities. In 1990 a federal MAP grant was received to create a new compactable collections storage system.


The first collections management database for both the archives and museum collection was GenCat. It was replaced by MINISIS in 2002. SAMOA, Surrey Archives and Museum On–line Access was introduced in 2011 and is available for viewing via: Surrey.ca/heritage/SAMOA


Facility Development

The Honey Hooser Weaving Centre opened in February 1988. The collection of textiles bequeathed to Surrey was moved from the Museum to the Threshing Shed in Elgin Heritage Park. A cooperation agreement with the Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild was established to ensure public access.


The Historic Stewart Farmhouse was restored and opened in June 1988. The restoration of farm buildings and gardens took several more years to complete and gradually these facilities were furnished and interpreted to present early 20th Century farm life. This site has developed unique tours and programs to engage visitors in pioneer life.


The Historic Stewart Farm is not just the farm house. Included in the restoration was the Pole Barn, woodshed, root cellar, garage and the threshing machine shed, now called "The Stewart Hall" and is used for exhibitions and programs.


Following a decade of planning studies (feasibility, site planning, concept development, facility plans) a new purpose–built Museum opened in October 2005.


The Surrey Archives collections and reference services moved into the restored and rehabilitated 1912 Municipal Hall in November 2006.


Heritage Services Administration, including Marketing, Volunteer Offices, centralized administration for the Surrey Museum and Surrey Archives collections and Division Management moved into the 1912 Hall in November 2006.


Current facts about the Heritage Service artifact collection

Funding Overview

The Museum, Archives and Stewart Farm receive annual operating funds from the City of Surrey through the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department budget process. This funding maintains all facets of the facility and service operations (the same as recreation centres and the arts centre).


The Museum is also eligible to seek various grants from provincial, federal and private foundations. In 1989, the museum was successful in receiving a provincial BC Arts Council operating grant. The Museum received a grant of $15,000 and this grant has increased and continues to this day on an annual basis. Over the years, project grants have been received from the federal Department of Canadian Heritage (Museums Assistance Program) and the Canadian Archives Council and the BC Archives Association. The Museum, Archives, Stewart Farm are each and collectively eligible to apply for various provincial, federal and charitable foundations grants because municipalities are deemed to be non–profit entities. Further, the municipal by–law establishing the Museum makes the Museum an official entity recognized as and eligible done under charitable recipient status.


An Endowment Fund was set up with the Surrey Foundation as an outcome of the capital fund raising campaign initiated by the Friends of the Surrey Museum and Archives Society. The Endowment Fund is managed by the Surrey Foundation and continues to receive donations. The Friends Society has augmented this Fund through receipt of matching donations from the BC Arts Renaissance Program of the Vancouver Foundation. Proceeds from the Endowment Fund will be used in the future to provide free admission to the Surrey Museum and the Historic Stewart Farm.


Staff Development

In 1987 Doug Hooser was preparing to retire as Museum Curator and his part–time team of staff included Vaida Singmaster, Secretary; Lillian Bickerton, Archivist; Linda Johnson, Programmer, Daisy Hamre, Curatorial Assistant and Richard Singmaster, Facility Attendant. The Museum and Archives facility was open from noon to 4 pm Tuesdays to Sundays.


With the hiring of Bev Sommer as Manager of Heritage Services in May 1987, the City proposed a transformation to bring the operations into the Parks and Recreation Department and to develop a new facility. The staff who were retired city employees, retired with Doug Hooser and a recruitment was undertaken to fill the new organization similarly to the operations of the Surrey Arts Centre and the various recreation facilities. Career entry positions were created and recruitment completed. The facilities became active members of the BC Museums Associations, the Canadian Museums Associations and Archives Association of BC.


With new staff in place, the Archives was able to increase its hours of public reference service. Jacqueline O'Donnell was the first professionally trained Archivist and she was instrumental in developing the public services and increasing the processing of collections. The Museum was able to begin a new volunteer program and to present regular programs for schools and the public under the leadership of Jean Burgher. Programs at the Museum and the Stewart Farm were initially all created and coordinated by Jean Burgher. Exhibits were upgraded and a separate artifact storage room was created under the supervision of the Manager of Heritage Services. Bev Sommer wrote the first Policy Manual that included a Collections Policy, Accession and Deaccession Practices, Volunteer Policy, Ethics Guidelines and Conservation Principles. The By–Law to formally recognize the Museum as an official entity of Surrey was approved and this delegated the authority to acquire and the concept of public trust for the enduring collections of the Museum and Archives.


Museum and Archives Advisory Board

In 1988 a Museum and Archives Advisory Board was established. The purpose of this community board was to provide input and advice to staff regarding the development and scope of annual exhibition and program priorities, to review issues related to collections management (accessions and deaccessions) and to make recommendations to reflect community interests. Volunteers were recruited from community associations such as the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, the Surrey Chamber of Commerce, the School District, the Surrey Historical Society and the volunteers of the operations of the Museum, Archives and Stewart Farm. Liaison representatives from the Library administration, Heritage Advisory Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission were also invited to attend. The advisory board also invited unaffiliated community representatives and two people were recruited to the initial board. This advisory group meets 8–10 times a year and continues to provide input and recommendations to shape the public programs of the facilities of Heritage Services.


Friends of the Surrey Museum and Archives Society

As the planning processes for a new Museum and Archives proceeded between 1990 and 1999, several reports were commissioned and presented to Council. As the millennium approached, a group of community representatives felt that it was time for Surrey to move forward with the planning of the new facilities and to stop talking philosophically and encouraging the new development in principle. In 1999 the founding members of the Friends of the Surrey Museum and Archives Society submitted a constitution to the Registrar of Societies and received provincial certification of a not for profit status. The group identified their purpose as providing support for the development of a new Museum and Archives for the City of Surrey and helping to raise awareness and funds for this endeavour.


The Society also submitted an application to be recognized as a charitable organization and an eligible donee to receive donations and to issue receipts for tax credit purposes. This federal status was granted because the Museum was officially recognized by by–law and therefore could be a legal recipient for funds raised.


The membership program was launched and over the coming years, the Society attracted a membership of over 150 individuals. The City of Surrey agreed to support their fund raising campaign and promised to match all funds raised over $1 million dollars, up to $250,000. The approval to begin fund raising came in 2004 and the Society launched a Capital Fund raising campaign to meet the challenge set by Surrey Council. By the end of 2006, the Society had exceeded Council's expectation. Over $1.3 million was raised through individual donations, grants from businesses, service clubs, charitable foundations and senior government and in–kind donations of services. The funds were used to acquire storage equipment, purchase furniture and new technology for the Orientation Theatre, buy automatic doors, purchase movable walls for the program rooms, augment the furnishings of the textile library, introduce new technologies into the permanent exhibit spaces, acquire meeting room furniture and support similar specialized equipment for the Archives building. In addition, the Society worked with the Surrey Foundation to establish an Endowment Fund.


The Endowment Fund was started through a donation from Doug Hooser in 2004. Several other donations were contributed and the Friends Society was able to apply to the BC Arts Renaissance Fund (managed by the Vancouver Foundation) to match these initial donations. For three years, the public contributions were matched. In 2006 when Doug Hooser passed away, he made a bequest to the Endowment Fund and a donation to the Capital Fund raising campaign. With the annual matching program, the Endowment Fund has been able to leverage these public donations into a sizable fund. The Museum and Archives Endowment Fund contains over $780,000 in principal. The annual interest will be used, for a variety of purposes, for both the Surrey Museum and the Historic Stewart Farm.


Historic Stewart Farm

The Stewart Farmhouse

The Stewart Farmhouse was built in 1894 and is a fine example of a Fraser Valley Victorian farmhouse. It is the second home built on this site. The first log home was located closer to the river and subject to flooding. Following the construction of the present home, the original building was used by farm labourers until the current bunkhouse was built. The farmhouse has decorative gable shingles, typical finials and turned veranda posts and spindles. The wooden framed double hung windows and drop siding are all typical of 1890s rural architecture. The eight buildings of the Historic Stewart Farm site make it a rare intact historic site and a valuable experience for the interpretation of farm heritage.


Surrey acquired the Ward's Marina property in 1984 and Designated the eight heritage buildings ensuring their protection and preservation. The restoration and interpretation of the buildings began in 1987. The Manager of Heritage Services coordinated the restoration work and the establishment of the exhibits and interpretation for this unique historic farm site. Funding was received from the City and from the BC Heritage Trust and federal work incentive programs. The subsequent operation of the Historic Stewart Farm became an additional responsibility of the Heritage Services Division and assisted to decentralize the museum's collections and extend program services into South Surrey and city–wide. The park site, Elgin Heritage Park today houses the facilities of the Historic Stewart Farm operation and a small marina and boat float.



Since opening in February 1988, the staff dedicated to this operation has been gradually increased with a full–time curator of exhibits and programs (Lana Panko) assigned in 2005 and program specialist staff increased to regular part–time at the same time. Additional part–time staff at this site deliver the interpretative programs for the house and gardens and support over 60 active volunteers and seasonal summer staff who present programs, tours, and interpretation of the site, gardens and heritage buildings. Since 2005, temporary exhibits are presented in the Stewart Hall and a strong portfolio of special seasonal events is offered.


The Surrey Archives

The evolution of the Surrey Archives took a significant step forward in 1999 with the expansion of its collection mandate from a community archives to the official repository for the historical records of the City of Surrey. Council ratified the recommendation to apply this new status and the Archives became part of the City's records retention process. As the records of each department are retired from active use, records are stored for a specific period of time depending of their status in the retention schedule. When the time period expires, the Archives has the opportunity to appraise the records for historical values and select materials suitable for archival retentions. As a result of this change, the Surrey Archives has what is known as a complete collection, including personal and business records from community donors and civic government records from the City.


The need for an expanded and more functional facility

As the professional staff increased and public hours of access increased, the need for a better facility became more and more apparent. Doug Hooser had described the problems with the current museum facility:


The biggest criticism of the Museum is that it was built haphazardly; a wing here, an addition there. A good museum is 1/3 display and 2/3 storage, yet the Surrey Museum is vice versa. The collection has to work for you, not you for it. To make it workable you need a good building. I admit I have too much on display but that is because I do not have enough storage space. I have done the best with what I've got. Doug Hooser

The improvement in the quality and use of museum collections are some of the highlights of a consultant's report, released in January 1984, reviewing Surrey museum needs. John Kyte, a museum consultant, prepared a Surrey Museum planning study for the Municipality. The report called for improved display of museum articles, and great selectivity in accepting historical objects. The study called for the removal of the museum and archives from the Surrey Fairground because of the proposed major re–development and expansion of the Surrey Fairgrounds. Kyte said the problems could be rectified by reworking existing space, consolidating surplus heritage material into storage, and upgrading displays and exhibits to be more appealing to the public.


The Kyte report was obsolete by 1987 and the following studies were funded by the City and the Museums Assistance Program (federal Department of Canadian Heritage):


The reference materials related to in the above can be reviewed in the Public Research and Reference Room of the Surrey Archives.


Out of these studies and through an extensive public consultation process, the concepts for the new facilities were identified. The public identified the need for the new museum to be child and family friendly, to tell specific stories about Surrey, to be interactive and dynamic and to engage new audiences, visitors and residents through a greater scope of programs and changing exhibits. It also identified the need for the archives reference services to be more accessible, with improved public technologies and provide increased support for public access through outreach, exhibits and education.


Surrey Museum and Archives wants a bigger and better home to display, teach and store the area's history. The original building was constructed in 1881 and moved to the Cloverdale Fair Grounds in 1938. Additions to the building have been made over the years, but the facility just doesn't adequately meet the needs of the community. "We're growing out and the spot is just completely inadequate. It was a very jerry–built building," said Burgher. "It doesn't have proper environmental controls, and we have to have off–site storage. It hasn't got adequate programming space, and there's no orientation centre. There are so many problems with this building; so many things are lacking."
untitled clipping, November 29, 1997. Surrey Archives: Museum file.

Tourist and residents will finally be able to walk through the doors of a new Surrey museum by 2006, after a $2,000,000 injection of federal and provincial funds.
Peace Arch News. June 4, 2003.

Museum concept

The concept was called the Surrey Learning and Discovery Centre which included the Museum, the public library and genealogical services, and the Archives. The site takes up 10 acres of land in the 17600 block of Highway 10. Ten years in the planning, the 24,000 square foot facility will be a key part of a campus–style cultural destination, which will include adaptive re–use of the neighbouring 1912 municipal hall building as the City Archives. A committee of Friends of Surrey Museum and Archives Society has pledged $1 million to help furnish the new museum and purchase equipment.


The Friends of the Surrey Museum Endowment Fund provides assistance to the Surrey Museum and Archives Society in acquiring new technologies and equipment to preserve and present local history. Mr. Hooser's generous donation, half of which was matched by the BC Arts Renaissance Fund in 2006, totals more than $750,000. Douglas Hooser passed away in early 2006, leaving a legacy that will continue to ensure Surrey's history is sustained and made accessible to current and future generations. This donation was one of many to the Endowment Fund.


The money announced Monday by Federal Industry Minister Allan Rock will help build a new 1,620 sq. metre museum on Hwy. 10, beside the city's 1912 municipal hall. That building is also targeted for restoration and museum use. Received under the Canada/BC infrastructure Program, the funding will bolster the $3 million already committed by the City of Surrey for the $5 million projects.
The new Surrey Learning and Discovery Campus, as it has been named, is planned on about .76 ha on Hwy. 10 (56 Ave) near 176th Street. The campus destination will use the renovated, 810 sq. meter historic city hall structure to house archive and reference materials.

Surrey Museum Eric Anderson's 1872 pioneer log cabin

Unveiling the New Surrey Museum; Saturday October 11, 2005

The grand opening of the brand–new Surrey Museum, built from scratch at the cost of $6.8 million, opened on Saturday Oct. 11. The 24,000 square foot space was designed by Vancouver's Iredale Group Architecture. The City of Surrey pitched in $4.8 million, with the provincial and federal governments contributing $1 million each. The drive for the new building began in 1990 and the staff is beaming about moving out of the old 15,100 square foot location. Included on the grounds are a number of permanent displays including Eric Anderson's 1872 pioneer log cabin.
The Province. October 9, 2005.

This is the first new museum built in B.C. in the 21st century. The new features of the museum include:

Unveiling the new Surrey Archives

Surrey Archives

The 1912 Hall was adapted for use as the Surrey Archives. The rehabilitation work included new wiring, new lighting, a new heating and air conditioning system, new insulation throughout the building, a new roof and gutter system, the flooring and paint scheme was selected to celebrate an Edwardian colour pallet, the foundation granite was re–caulked and the original entry tiles at the south entrance were restored.





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