Surrey Museum was a separate entity, and the Historical Society was intended to be a fund raiser, to provide Museum support and stimulate public interest. The Society wanted to enlist volunteers and register as a charitable society as it was recognized that any lobbying for government support could not, practicably, be done by the curator. The Museum needed money; the Municipality of Surrey was unwilling or unable to provide the necessary financial support.
Some of the individuals behind the formation of the Surrey Historical Society were Claude Harvie and Ted Molyneux. The first organizing meeting of sixteen interested individuals was in the Surrey Museum, on October 28, 1968, with the aim of creating a local Historical Society.
After the October 1968 meeting Ted Molyneux became the first President and Mrs. Von Hammerstein served as Secretary. She acted as secretary for the next two years until the Society was formed and the first slate of table officers were elected. Mr. Molyneux was the first president under the new Society Charter.
Six months later, April 23, 1969 the Society was incorporated by the Registrar of Companies. The aims of the new Society was to interest the public in the preservation of Surrey's History, while asking making definite steps to retain information, antiques, artifacts and sites that are of historic value.
The founding members of the Surrey Museum and Historical Society were: Mr. Douglas R. Hooser, Mrs. Helen Murphy, Mr. O. Murphy, Mr. Claude H. Harvie, Mr. L.L. Kneeland, Mrs. S. Hill, Mrs. A. Von Hammerstein, Mrs. B. Irwin, Mr. E.M. (Ted) Molyneux, Mrs. E.M. Molyneux, Mr. Hunter Vogel M.L.A., Mr. R.V. (Dick) Whiteside, Mr. William (Bill) Pekonen, Mr. Stan McKinnon, Mr. E. Evans, Mrs. M. Davidson.
At the April 24, 1969 meeting, the Beaver Symbol was adopted as the official stamp of the Surrey Museum and Historical Society.
By the following April the initiating group had prepared bylaws and a constitution, signed up members, set up committees, and was ready to start to work actively on programs. For the first twenty years, the Society worked closely with the Museum and Archives. Eventually, however, the operation of the museum and archives was taken over by the municipality and operated by a permanent full-time professional staff.
At the first meeting in April 1969 the Society approved three scholarships of $100. They were to be awarded to high school students in Surrey for essays submitted on the pioneers and the history of the development of Surrey.
To encourage student involvement in the Society a Beaver Club was created. Above is a Surrey Beaver Club Application and Surrey Beaver Club Card. Fees for the student was 25 cents per year.
In that first year a spring drive to sign up association members took place. Membership fell into four categories; student, regular adult member, life member and family life members. By June of 1969 over 2000 Student Beaver Club members had been signed up and almost 300 adult and life members. The desire to draw attention to the museum was a success.
The initial Membership Application had an annual fee of $1.00 and a membership receipt was issued.
The Society applied and was recognized as a Charitable Organization. One of its aims was fulfilled. Once the funding issue was settled, the Society turned itself to preserving Surrey's History by embarking on a series of publishing projects. Fern Treleaven was asked to write a history of Surrey in three installments.
Ted Molyneux (left) and Mayor William Vander Zalm examine the copy of The Surrey Story, Volume 1 which is to be presented to Her Majesty the Queen. The volume was specially bound for presentation. It was presented by Mr. Molyneux to Surrey Municipal Council, as president of Surrey Museum and Historical Society, publishers of this historical series. It has been signed by the Mayor on behalf of the people of Surrey, and will be forwarded to the Queen through official channels.
Volume 1 covered the period from Surrey's early beginnings up to 1900. It was produced by securing a loan from the Municipality and published in 1969. Volume 2 covered the period from 1900 to 1939 and was published in 1970. It was financed in part by sales of Volume 1 and the initial loan was repaid to the Municipality on October 6, 1975. When President Ted Molyneux requested a second loan, it was denied on the basis that the Society had been so slow in repaying the first loan. Sales on the first two volumes were slumping, so Ted approached the publisher to ask if the third volume could be produced on a "pay as you go" basis; however, the publisher declined, saying the book needed a major rewrite. Ted Molyneux paid $100 for the rewrite, most likely out of his own pocket.
Jack Berry succeeded Ted Molyneux as president in 1971. The abridged Volume three of the Surrey Story came off the press in 1972 but in a larger format, so that the symmetry of the three books was lost. However, it did allow for the inclusion of more photographs. All these changes had been made without consultation with the author, Fern Treleaven. When a copy landed in her hands, she marched up to the Museum to find out who was responsible. Those on hand tried to pacify her by explaining the situation but her ability as a writer had been impugned. One thousand copies of the book had been printed. Fern intimated she would sue if the publication was distributed or marketed through the usual channels. The only alternative the Society had, was to take on the expense of the printing then go into debt. Also the Society had to try to dispose of the abridged volumes without offending the author. They decided to offer copies to local interested organizations, schools and the Municipal Hall. The Hall took as many copies as the Society could provide They were used as promotional hand outs for municipality. The Museum sold copies over the counter for fifty cents each, which was far below the cost of printing.
Complimentary copies of book one and two had been forwarded to the Queen's Library, National Library, Library of Congress, Provincial Library, Surrey Libraries, Canadian Universities and gazetted in a U.S.A. new publications catalogue which circulated that country's institutes of learning. Many favourable replies had been received, even one from the Queen's secretary.
The Society decided to consolidate volumes one and two with Fern Treleaven's original Book 3 manuscript, into one hard bound volume. With upgrades, it would cover the first one hundred years of the Corporation of the District of Surrey's history. A grant was obtained from the Federal Government's New Horizon, Health and Welfare Canada. The research, interviews, photographs, illustrations, editing and publishing for the upgrade was done by a committee of twenty members from the Surrey Museum and Historical Society. Fern Treleaven attended the launch on November 1, 1979 and was presented with a special bound first edition. Bill Vanderzalm, now an MLA and Minister of Human Resources, presented the Society with a cheque for $6,000 which took care of any prior printing costs.
In the early 1990s there was a loan from Surrey for the 4th edition of the Surrey Story which the Society was prepared to pay back. Representatives attended a full council meeting with the intent to do so. The Mayor Bob Bose said the money should be kept by the Society and used as a base for a further publication.
The Historical Society decided to reprint a second upgraded edition of the Surrey Story with up dates by Stan McKinnon. This would cover the period 1979 to 1991. The book was printed in soft cover in 1992 and again in 1996.
Jack Berry, President of the Museum and Historical Society, is presenting Fern Treleaven with a specially bound copy of the consolidated version of the Surrey Story. This version was produced in 1978 for Surrey's Centenary in 1979.
In November 1974, Mr. Whiteside presented 400 copies of The Pioneers of Surrey to the Surrey Museum and Historical Society. After approximately 100 presentations to pioneers covered in the book, the balance of the copies on hand were to be distributed at the Society's discretion. The balance of the books donated was made available to the Society's membership. The publication was made possible by a financial grant from the Federal Government under the New Horizon Program.
Three Surrey Museum and Historical Society authors. Left to right; Margaret Hastings who wrote "Along the Way", Fern Treleaven, who wrote "The Surrey Story" and Richard Whiteside with his "Surrey Pioneers".
In 1981, the Society published a new book about transportation in Surrey. River Roads and Railways was also written by G. Fern Treleaven. Another booklet published in 1995, Looking back at Surrey by the Surrey Historical Society, was a collection of articles written by various residents and pioneers of Surrey. It was edited by Stan McKinnon, former owner and editor of the Surrey Leader.
In the upper left, members of the Historical Society are at a book launch at Jane Ross Books for the 1992 edition of the Surrey Story edited by Stan McKinnon. Stan McKinnon is signing a book while Wayne Desrochers SHS President looks on. The ladies are Shauneen Edwards, Secretary and Kathleen Hardy, Author.
At the 1995 book launch for Looking Back at Surrey at the head table left to right are: Jim Sullivan, Mable Nichols, Kathleen Hardy, Stan McKinnon and John Tompson. On the right Stan McKinnon, Frank McKinnon and John Tompson are signing books.
The group picture are members of the Surrey Historical Society and Authors who were involved in the production of Looking Back at Surrey, 1995. Some of those shown in the picture are Frank and Doris McKinnon, Alan and Doris Davidson, Eva Barton, Stan McKinnon, Millie Plecas, Eva and Margie Sullivan, Ruth McBeth, Jim Sullivan, Mable Nichols, John Tompson and Dorothy Tompson
The Society continues to research and collect materials for publication. A series of taped interviews with pioneer residents recalling their lives in Surrey will become the basis of a publication and the tapes have been donated to the Surrey Archives.
The Surrey Historical Society is in the process of publishing another book. The Semiahmoo Trail Myths Makers Memories has reached the printing stage and will be available in early December 2008 from Society members or Surrey and White Rock book stores.
Another of the initial aims of the Society was the preservation. The first of these was the preservation of the Petroglyph. The petroglyph had been noticed on the beach near the end of 136th Street in the 1920s. On its face was a series of circles and pick holes that etched the face of the large granite bolder. Mr. Lawrence Berry, while he was working for the Great Northern Railway, first noticed the grooves and remembered that the grooves were so deeply etched that he could lay the thickness of his finger completely in them. Over the years he notice that erosion caused by winter storms and the thrashing of sand and gravel over the boulder has removed much of the design. The Society set to work to rescue it. The Society had the petroglyph authenticated, and approached Surrey Municipality for funds to assist in the move to a safer site. They obtained the co–operation of the Great Northern Railway. The Society successfully applied for a permit from the Parks Branch, prevailed upon Burlington Northern Railway to supply a crane to remove the petroglyph from the water, and obtained a resting place in Heron Park from Surrey Municipal Parks. Immediately after successfully moving the petroglyph to its new location, the Society informed the Parks Branch, whereupon they were informed they had no right to do this as the permit had expired two weeks earlier. Nonetheless, a plaque was installed and the petroglyph was officially unveiled on July 16, 1974. The petroglyph now sits in Heron Park, the former location of Crescent Beach Station.
The second was the preservation of the site of an Indian Lookout in Ocean Park. Since its inception in 1969 the Society had been working to have the Indian lookout declared a National Historic Monument. Dr. D. Abbott, of the Provincial Museum staff, said he believed it to be an authentic Indian lookout. In his report, of September 25th 1969, to the Historical Society he wrote:
In order to reach the Indian Fort site, we turned off Ocean Park Road near 20th Ave. onto the recently made road named Indian Fort Drive. Near the end of the Drive is a foot path to the west, leading directly to the site. Many new homes have been built there during the past 22 years, but the most important area of approximately two acres has so far escaped the intrusion of houses. It is located on a point of land high above the sea and lies between two ravines. A man-made trench connects these two ravines several hundred feet back from the edge of the cliff and is overgrown with underbrush. It was apparently made for the purpose of crouching in so as not to be seen by enemy tribes arriving by war canoes. At one time a row of boulders lined the brink of this section of land to further the strength of the fortress, but much of this has slipped away by storm erosion and mud slides.
Many years later, in 1907 it was the site of a Japanese encampment. Many of whom were no doubt engaged in building of the Great Northern Railway; that was being pushed through at that time to accommodate the flourishing logging industry here.
Now the scene is one of tranquility and peacefulness, and provides a panoramic sea-seascape of all of Boundary Bay. (See Indian Fort Drive)
Mr. Abbott recommended that the Provincial Gov't secure this Historic site.
The property was valued at between $55,000 to 60,000 and could be acquired. However funding was not available from either the Provincial Government or Federal Indian Affair's Branch. Despite efforts over many years the site could not be preserved and became an ocean view subdivision.
The relocation of the Anderson Cabin was discussed in May of 1970. The owner of the property where the cabin was located was willing to have the cabin moved. It was in good condition, approximately 8 X 12, and was constructed in 1872, seven years before the Municipality of Surrey was incorporated. The donation of the cabin was made by Bill and Dianne Sweet.
It was brought to the attention of the Society that changes were being contemplated regarding the memorial tree on highway 401 in the Port Kells area. Mr. Perkins had, many years ago, dedicated this tree to the memory of local members of the Royal Flying Corps who lost their lives in World War I.
So many of my chums had been killed and I missed them. There was a beautiful big tree on our place and I planted ivy around that tree and made a little natural park. There were beautiful ferns, and the vine maples when they turned red and gold in the fall made it a lovely spot.
I didn't put their names or anything. It was just my own tree and my own memory. Surrey Story 1992, p76.
The Society pledged to do all that it can to assist in preserving the site on the freeway which was formerly part of the Perkin's property.
In this picture Society President Leslie Eggleton is presenting a plaque to show the Society's appreciation for the donation of photograph collections. The donations included three extensive collections that were donated to the archives in 1982. Mr. Hastings, former publisher of the Surrey-Delta Messenger and photographer for White Rock Sun; Mr. McKinnon, former editor of The Surrey Leader; Mr. Curtis, former photographer for the Surrey Leader and later for the Langley Advance, donated their negatives and prints. Mrs. Amanda Curtis, wife of Neville Curtis, is accepting the plaque along with Bill Hastings and Stan McKinnon.
In June 1972 the matter of historic markers was discussed. A list of historic sites throughout the Municipality was compiled and submitted to the governing body together with a sketch of the proposed marker. This initiative was the beginnings of the Heritage Road signs.
In November 1973, a letter was read from the Honourable Ernest Hall, Provincial Secretary, in reply to the Societies letter requesting information regarding the old Anniedale School. Mr. Hall advised that with recent amendments to the Municipal Act the Government gave municipalities the right to set up Heritage Advisory Committees in order that the municipalities might give consideration to preservation of historic sites and buildings. The Society moved that a letter be written to the Municipal Council requesting that a committee be set up and that a member of the Surrey Museum & Historical Society should be appointed to the Committee. A three person committee was formed and Society President Jack Berry was appointed.
A letter from the BC Wildlife Federation, dated October 1976, regarding the preservation of the Brownsville Wharf, with particular reference to public access to the river bank. The Society made the following recommendations to Council and the BC Wildlife Federation was advised that: if the dock cannot be saved that the shoreline be preserved where the dock stands and that public access be permitted in perpetuity to that specific area on the river bank; that a marker or cairn be erected to mark the site. That initiative eventually resulted in the dedication of Brownsville Park.
On November 25, 1976 Alderman-elect, Mr Garry Watkins, spoke at some length on the matter of preservation of the Semiahmoo Trail. Mr. Watkins envisions a trail 3 miles in length and 200 feet in width running south from Elgin. He feels a LIP grant can be obtained for clearing and marking the trail. It was pointed out that a portion of the trail is still privately owned and considerable cost might be involved in acquiring the entire 3 miles. Mr. Watkins was advised to contact Mr. Doug Grieve, Deputy Municipal Clerk, and Secretary of the Heritage Advisory Committee, and ascertain the present status of the trail.
With the conversion of road names to numbers in 1957, the Society began an initiative to and in conjunction with the Municipal Manager to preserve some of Surrey's historic road names. This could be accomplished by means of heritage road signs. The initiative was:
To utilize the five Town Centre colours with signs being placed at major intersections using a combination of street marker names to supplement the existing street marker numbers at intersections without signals and an overhead sign with combination of the name and numbers at signalized intersections. Estimated cost $7,080.00.
The roads selected for heritage road signs with the historic road name were:
- Sandell Road (128 St) from New McLellan Road to 116 Ave.
- Stevenson Road (128 St) from 16 Ave to Crescent Road
- Roebuck Road (132 St) from 56 Ave to 116 Ave
- Nichol Road (140 St) from 72 Ave to 110 Ave
- Nichol Road (140 St) from 16 Ave to Crescent Road
- Archibald Road (144 St) from No. 10 Hwy to Fraser Highway
- Archibald Road (144 St) from 100 Ave to 108 Ave
- Johnston Road (152 St) from 16 Ave to 36 Ave
- Johnston Road (152 St) from 40 Ave to Ferguson Diversion
- Coast Meridian Road (168 St) from 8 Ave to 96 Ave
- Halls Prairie Road (184 St) from Zero Ave to 80 Ave
- Latimer Road (192 St) from 24 Ave to 88 Ave
- Ferguson Road (108 Ave) from 128 St to 152 St.
- Hjorth Road (104 Ave) from 128 St to 160 St.
- Townline Road (96 Ave) from 120 St to 176 St
- Kennedy Road (88 Ave) from 120 St to 152 St
- Davis Road (88 Ave) from 152 St to 192 St
- Hunt Road (80 Ave) from 120 St to 136 St
- Hunt Road (80 Ave) from 168 St to 192 St
- Newton Road (72 Ave) from 120 St to 152 St
- Bose Road (64 Ave) from 120 St to 196 St
- Kensington Mud Bay Road (40 Ave) from King George Highway to 184 St
- Brown Road (32 Ave) from 128 Street to 192 St
- Sunnyside Road (24 Ave) from 120 St to 192 St
- North Bluff Road (16 Ave) from 128 Street to 196 St.
- Campbell River Road (8 Ave) from 168 St to 196 St.
In January 1981, Jack Berry brought up the matter of names for schools in Surrey. He felt that schools should bear the names of pioneers or of the district in which the schools are located. An example was the new secondary school to be constructed in Ocean Park on property purchased from the Laronde Family which might be named for that family. The School Board looked favourably upon the proposal and subsequent naming of Schools reflected the district or former pioneers in the School catchment area. By October 1982, Mr. Eggleton reported that he had been contacted by the School Board asking if the Society would approve the naming of the school in Ocean park area Louis Laronde. The Laronde family had homesteaded in that area.
In May 1983, Jack Berry drew attention to 3 lanes and 2 pathways in the Crescent Beach area which were not named. It was moved that a letter be sent to the Crescent Beach Property Owners' Association calling attention to the unnamed lanes and pathways and suggesting that they be named after pioneer residents who had resided in the area. By the fall of 1983 a letter was received from the Municipal Manager advising approval of expenditure of funds for signing the following lanes and pathway in the Crescent Beach area.
As Surrey's population increased there was a need for an improved and an enlarged Museum and Archives. Public imput was desired to determine the best location for the new facility. A series of public meetings were held throughout Surrey to gauge public interest and expectation. The Surrey Historical Society attended all of the meetings and expressed a strong desire that the Museum Complex should remain in Cloverdale either at the Fairgrounds or at the site of the 1912 Municipal Hall. The Society played a significant role in the decision that the Museum remain in Cloverdale.
In February 2001, the McMillan Story Board, a joint project undertaken by the Society and the Surrey Heritage Advisory Committee was unveiled at Crescent Beach. The board commemorates the Hudson's Bay Company sponsored expedition of James McMillan across Semiahmoo Bay and up the Nicomekl River to locate a site for the establishment of a fur trading post near the mouth of the Fraser River. This was one of many historic boards established that tell the story of aspects of Surrey's history.
The Oral History Project began in 2004 as an initiative of the Publishing Committee. There was concern that much of the older anecdotal history of the City was being lost as long-time residents passed on.
Various members of the Society identified potential interviewees and all those contacted readily agreed to participate. Most of those interviewed have spent the majority of their lives in Surrey. Each participant received a copy of their tapes, along with a written summary. The interviews were conducted by Vicky Parr.
On the left Vicky Parr is describing the character and extent of the oral interviews. On the right she is sharing some stories with some of the interviewees; Willy Hansen, Olive Wilson, and Willy's daughter, Dee.
The interviews took the form of a life review and participants provided descriptions of their family background, early childhood, schooling, social life, work experience, and community and religious activities. The discussions were wide-ranging and captured recollections of people whose optimism, determination and ingenuity built the successful City we know today.
On the left Peter Johnson, Surrey Archives Curator–Archivist, receives the 35 tapes from Jack Brown, SHS Vice–President. On the right Alan and Doris Davidson with Mavis and Gordon Bishop. Alan along with Mavis and Gordon were interviewees.
The Historical Society donated 20 oral histories to the Surrey Archives on June 27, 2008. The histories were recorded with 25 Surrey residents over a three-year period. The 35 tapes were presented to Peter Johnson, Curator-Archivist of the City of Surrey Heritage Service by John Bliss, President of the Society at a Strawberry Tea, held in honour of the interviewees.
Lorne Pearson was named as a Surrey Treasure.
He is standing behind the Archives' counter with Peter Johnson and Ryan Gallagher.
Al Cleaver was named as a Surrey Civic Treasure.
Barbara Hynek was the President of the BC History Federation during 2011–12.
Chuck Davis was a member of the Surrey Historical Society. He was noted for his web site on events in the history of Vancouver, as well as his publications on Vancouver's History.
John Macdonald(on the left) and Victoria Parr(on the right) are shown receiving their Friends of Heritage Awards for their contributions to Surrey's Heritage. John researched and wrote a history of the Kennedy Trail which was placed on the Surrey History web site and later published as a book. Victoria recorded oral histories from older Surrey residents who have lived most of their lives in Surrey. The tapes are a collection of memories of life and events in early Surrey that could be lost without these recordings. In 2009 Victoria donated 35 oral history tapes to the Surrey Archives.
In this picture Society President Jack Brown is presenting an honorary membership to Jack Berry for his many years of service to the Surrey Historical Society and Surrey Museum. Jack Berry was one of the founding members of the Surrey Museum and Historical Society and he served as President as well as a member of the executive. Jack Berry volunteered as the custodian of the Museum and Archives' picture collection. He wrote many articles, assisted with publications, provided pictures, and hosted events. Jack contributed many articles to the Surrey History web site. He is well deserving of this honorary membership award. Jack was 92 when this picture was taken.
The Society under took a series program to increase awareness and build support for the Surrey Museum.
- They began a program titled The Beaver Club which encouraged school children to join the Society and encouraged older students to promote the club.
- Douglas College and the Society co-operated in presenting a Seminar on the Environment and ecology of this area. This interesting study of the historical significance of environmental influences on our present situation, took place at the Dell Hotel in Whalley, on October 23, 1971. Speakers at the Seminar were: Dr. Barry Leach, who gave the main address, entitled History of Every Environment and Ecology; Warnett Kennedy, Town Planning and Retaining Beauty and Environment; and Guy Spencer, Social and Political Structures: Are they Adequate for Today's Needs?
- School District 36 created a night school program of classes on Surrey's History. The Society brought the Museum to the schools and taught the children about Surrey history by giving lectures and showing artifacts from the past.
- The Society installed Pioneer Markers on historic landmarks, first researching the history of the sites and gathering correct information.
- Encouraging Youth to immerse themselves in Surrey's History through essay contests and scholarships for grade 11 and 12, book prizes for grade 8 history reports.
- Hosting the BC Historical Federation Annual Conference April 30 to May 3, 1998.
- Having speakers or presenters at every Surrey Historical Society meetings. All meetings are open to the public.
The Society meets every second Saturday at 10 am in the basement of the Surrey Archives from September to May, but with no meetings in December or January. Any one interested in Surrey's History and its preservation is invited to attend.
When Doug Hooser retired in September of 1987, the Museum was brought under the auspices of the provincial museums. Municipal funding was assured, and professional staff was hired. Up until that time, members of the Society also worked at the Museum as volunteers. The new structure provided for a separation of function. As a result the Society's name became the Surrey Historical Society and the link with Surrey Museum was dropped. The aims of the Society remain the same.
This was the Executive during the early 1980s.
1995–96 – April
1996–97 – April
2002–03 – April
2003–04 – April
2004–05 – April
2005–06 – April
2006–07 – April
2007–08 – April
2008–09 – April
Ron Dowel signing books at the Semiahmoo Trail book launch
2009–10 – April
2009–10 Executive members
2010–11 – April
2010–11 Executive members
2011–12 – April
A Surrey Historical Society General Meeting
2012–13 – April
After Joan Parolin's presentation on the Bothwell–Gillis pioneer families
2013–14 – April
2014–15 – April