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The Woodward Family
of Woodward's Hill, Surrey, BC

This history was inspired by a submission from Richelle McGarva to the Lord Tweedsmuir Alumni Research Competition. In a part of her submission Richelle had a short history of the Woodward Family. Richelle is the grand daughter of Ray Woodward. Extensive research by her Uncle Tom Woodward made this family history possible.

Woodward's Hill Heritage Marker

This Historic Marker just north of the Colebrook Road overpass marks the location of one of the first farms in Surrey. This picture was taken in 1989. Woodward's Hill runs through the William Woodward family farm that was preempted in 1873 and settled within the following year.


John William Woodward was born in Norley, Cheshire, England April 7, 1821. He was the fifth child of William and Sarah (Spruce) Woodward. William Woodward was the innkeeper at The Red Lion Inn in Norley. .William and Sarah had a family of seven; one son, William, and six daughters; Sarah, Mary-Jane, Ellen, Anne, Elizabeth and Henrietta.

John William Woodward married Hanna Spruce in the Parish Church of Norley in the County of Chester on Wednesday, October 1, 1845. Tragedy struck the family when William's wife Hanna died of tuberculosis in 1864. The tragedy was compounded when during an epidemic the two oldest girls, Sarah and Mary–Jane along with the youngest Henrietta died in 1866. As a result William Woodward came to Canada in 1870 along with his son John, who was thirteen years of age. The surviving three daughters remained in England at the time. William arrived in Victoria but moved to Nanaimo and then on to New Westminster. He was a stone mason by trade but had started farming, in approximately 1850 in Onston Hall near Norley, England in the years before coming to Canada.


In 1873 William along with John Brewer won the contract to build sections B to C of the Semiahmoo Wagon Road from Brownsville to a point just north of the Serpentine River. The contract involved clearing, grading about 7 miles along a blaze line. The specifications called for:

Cut clear all trees, logs, brush etc. to a width of 16 feet and graded 12 feet wide with hard material and sufficiently rounded to allow the water to run off the road. All soft places to be corduroyed 12 feet wide and laid. On the solid ground covered with 4 inches of dirt or gravel.
All bridges were required to be 12 feet in the clear and substantially built and covered with cedar slabs of not less than 4 inches thick and 4 stringers. All timbers, in a bridge and corduroying, to be cedar.
The blazed line to be followed as near as possible, that is not to deviate more than one chain (66 feet) either side of the blazed line with the privilege of going round any large stump that may be in the way.
The whole project is to be completed to the satisfaction of the Chief Commissioner of Lands and works or his agent on or before 30th September next.
Map of north section Semiahmoo Road Map of south section Semiahmoo Road

Section 2 from B to C was awarded with $800. At completion of B and C a sum of $2137 was awarded. An additional contract for the Serpentine Bridge was awarded for $700. Upon final inspection at completion an additional $1600 was awarded. Total for the road work and bridges competed by Oct. 1873 was $5237.

Preemption receipt Sketch of Woodwards lot

Prior to construction of the Semiahmoo Road and probably while cruising the slash line, William saw the possibilities of homesteading in Surrey. On January 8th, 1873 he registered his preemption of 160 acres of land (Preemption #977) along the Semiahmoo Road which he would open that same year. His son John preempted an additional 160 acres. The preemption, north of the Serpentine River and along the Semiahmoo Road, was preempted from Crown Land and purchased for a $1.00 an acre upon improvement. William was granted clear title to 197 acres of improved lands on June 14, 1886. William initially built a log cabin but by the following year he had built a substantial frame house, one of the first in Surrey. His land extended from the crest of the upland to the Serpentine lowlands in the vicinity of the crest of the hill below Highway #10 and along King George Highway, at what is now known as Woodward's Hill. In time, the farm would extend across the Serpentine River. John Brewer preempted the quarter section just east of William Woodward's property.

Map of Woodward farm Map of Woodward land
Preemption Record

Preemption of Crown Land was allowed in British Columbia until a general land survey of the Fraser Valley was undertaken in 1879. William Woodward's preemption #977 involved 197 acres of land. This could only be held in freehold if the land was improved and the Government paid $1.00 per acre. William was granted clear title to the improved lands on June 14, 1886.


In about 1880 William returned to England and brought back his unmarried daughters, Elizabeth and Ann, to the Surrey homestead. Ellen remained in England as she had married John Weaver. While there the couple lived in Cheshire and their first seven children were born. Another four children were born in Delta, BC.

William Woodward's family

This photo was taken in England about 1880 when William Woodward went back and brought out his two unmarried daughters to live with him and his son John in their Surrey home at Woodward's Hill.

  • Back Row: Elizabeth Woodward, William Woodward
  • Middle Row Adults L to R: Ann Woodward, Ellen (Woodward) Weaver and John Weaver.
  • Front Row: First four children of John and Ellen Weaver. *Julia, Florence, William and Francis.
  • *Later on the Weaver Family immigrated to Surrey, BC and Julia ended up in marriage with her Uncle John Woodward.
John and Ellen Weaver

The Weavers, John and Ellen immigrated to Canada with their young family in 1887. John and Ellen eventually had a family of eleven: three girls and eight boys. Initially the family stayed at William Woodward's home for a few years, but in 1889 John Woodward bought 200 acres (District Lot 173) in South Burnaby and John Weaver moved his family to Burnaby to manage the Rose Hill Dairy. He remained in this position for a few years until he bought his own farm in Delta.

Map of Rose Hill Farm

In 1889 John Woodward purchased 200 acres at District Lot 173. He developed "Rosehill" a small farm beside the North Arm Trail (Marine Drive). In the 1890's he was well known for the operation of a dairy farm and the production of root and hay crops. Woodward leased much of the excess land to Chinese farmers who farmed along Holland Road and below Trapp avenue on the Fraser River and sold their produce to the residents of New Westminster as wagon peddlers. In 1892 John sold 40 acres to A.M.S. Chalmers.


In 1906 the Canadian Pacific Railway began construction of a branch line to connect Eburne and New Westminster. John Woodward drew up an agreement with a real estate syndicate to subdivide the District Lot into twelve blocks each with 10–12 lots for sale. A Street grid followed the city grid plan of New Westminster incorporating the old North Arm Road and a railway spur. This spur line served the waterfront lots which were leased by the Municipality of Burnaby for unloading gravel for road construction. However, very little development occurred as the majority of the property was continued to be leased to Chinese Farmers. John sold the property in 1908.

Rose Hill Dairy

This was the dairy farm "Rosehill" of John Woodward of Burnaby.

  • Julia (Weaver) Woodward and daughter Gertrude on the horse.
  • John and Ellen (Woodward) Weaver sitting on the wagon.
  • Far Right – John Woodward
  • Far Left – Ann Woodward
  • Man standing on the wagon is probably John H. Lewis.

Elizabeth Woodward married, an East Delta farmer, John Oliver. Together they had five sons and three daughters. John developed a very prosperous farm in East Delta. At age 44 he entered BC politics. In 1916, at age 60, he was appointed the first Liberal Minister of Agriculture and Railways for British Columbia. In 1918 became the Premier of British Columbia and served until his death in 1927. Through out his political career he was known Province wide as "Honest John Oliver". Elizabeth died in 1952 at the age of 93.

John and Elizabeth Oliver The Oliver Family

John Oliver and Elizabeth (Woodward) Oliver. The Oliver's and their family of eight.

Ann Woodward remained a spinster. s a child, in England, she was brain damaged from a bought of Black Measles. She lived with her family at Rose Hill Dairy and later with her sister Elizabeth and John Oliver in East Delta. Ann died in 1916 at age 61.

John and Julia Woodward

John Woodward married his niece, Julia Weaver. John and Julia had four children; Harry, Gertrude (Mrs. Cecil Collishaw), Hilda (Mrs. Percy Rumble), and Evelyn (Mrs. Ken Armstrong).

John and Julia's family
  • John Woodward and Julia (Weaver) Woodward and their family.
  • Back Row L to R: Gertrude, Harry and Hilda
  • Front Row L to R: Julia(Weaver), Evelyn and John Woodward

John was a very successful dairy farmer with Rose Hill Dairy in South Burnaby. In addition he operated the Woodward Family farm after his father's death in Dec. 1893. The family operated a stall in the Farmer's Market in New Westminster where they sold the products from the farm.

Woodward Family at home
  • This picture is taken inside the Woodward Family home, on Woodward's Hill, in around 1910..
  • Back Row L to R: Harry, Hilda and Gertrude
  • Front Row L to R: John Woodward, Evelyn and Julia (Weaver)
William Woodward home
  • This picture is taken on the porch of the Woodward home..
  • Back Row: Harry Woodward
  • Middle Row: John Woodward, Julia Woodward, Nellie Brown, Nellie Oliver, Gertrude Woodward with her hands on the top rail.
  • Front Row: Evelyn Woodward is in white, and Hilda Woodward is leaning on the post.
Woodward Family Home

The Woodward family home was built by William Woodward beginning in 1874. The driveway was part way up 144A street just off King George Hwy on Panorama Ridge. It was continuously occupied by the family until the farm was foreclosed on and sold after 1933. The Woodward family home was torn down in 1946 after the family had used it for over 60 years.


The Woodward home became a Stage Coach Stop on the road from New Westminster to Blaine. This stage stop operated until the New Westminster Southern Railway began operation in 1891. The stop became the first Government Post Office, known as Mud Bay. The Mud Bay Post Office opened on July 1st, 1881 and closed May 4th, 1889. William Woodward was the Postmaster, which was Surrey's first postmaster. The Woodward home was the centre for social and religious activities in the area until Elgin became the main settlement centre about 10 years later. With the opening of the Victoria Terminal Railway in 1903, the Alluvia Station was located just south of their farm near Colebrook Road and the Semiahmoo Road. The station operated as Alluvia Post Office from March 1st, 1890 to Jan 1st, 1904. Alluvia Station was an important stop where farm and timber products were shipped. William served on the inaugural Surrey Council from 1879 until 1881. He was an active farmer and continued to take road improvement contracts. William Woodward died December 28, 1893 at his son's home at Rose Hill. He was 72 years of age.

John Woodward took over possession of the family farm. In 1898 he along with his neighbours Chantrell, John Stewart, and William McBride formed a company to dyke the farms with outside help. The total cost being $5,162.20 to dyke 538.73 acres. This price also included the necessary flood boxes. Milk was sold to Crescent Beach, with any surplus being made into butter with the skim milk being fed to pigs and calves. The grain and hay were usually shipped to Victoria, via the boat The Grainier, which drew so much water that it had to wait for the high tide to come up to the dock on the river.


John Woodward died from pneumonia on June 18, 1919. Mrs. Julia Woodward continued to live in New Westminster and for many years lived at 912 Tenth Street. She passed away in March 1955. From 1919 until his early death in 1932, their son Harry continued to operate the family farm. Harry Woodward married Gwendolin Ruth Ash in 1926. Harry and Ruth had three children; John, Beverly and Raymond.

Harry and Ruth Woodward Raymond, John and Bev Woodward

Harry and Ruth Woodward resided in the original Woodward Family Home and worked the Woodward farm property. Their children are shown on the steps of the Ash farm house, which was located on New McLellan Road (Hwy. #10) across from the original Woodward farm. Ray on the left, John in the centre, and Beverly on the right.


Over the years all the Woodward and Weaver children had always gone to Mud Bay School, but when it closed in 1921 the children had the long walk over to Elgin School. As a result in 1924, Harry Woodward and a neighbour, Mr. Twist, donated an acre each to the Surrey School District. Woodward Hill School was built on those two acres at McLellan Road and Goldstone Road (Highway #10 and 146th Street).

Woodward's Hill School

Woodward's Hill School operated from 1924 to 1951 when it was closed and the students were accommodated at the new Sullivan Elementary that had been built after the destruction by fire of the Johnston Road School. The original Woodward School building was moved to 6945 134th Street and used as Unwin Hall at Unwin Park in Newton and was used as a facility for different occasions. The building was torn down in approximately 2002.

Woodward's Hill School Class of 1926

Harry Woodward died in 1932 from pneumonia that was caused by his inhaling wheat husk dust into his lungs and the infection killed him. His wife, Ruth, could not manage the farm with three young children. This was the beginning of the Great Depression, land prices were depressed and a mortgage was being called in by the mortgage holder. Ruth was unable to pay. The estate was forced into bankruptcy and Westminster Trust took over the land and sold it off later. Louie Sangters had sold Harry $20,000 in life insurance. There was a $10,000 mortgage on the farm. Ruth chose to give up the farm. Ruth's youngest son, Raymond Woodward, was only two at the time. Ruth took her three children John, Bev and Raymond to White Rock after leaving the farm. They all lived there in a rental home from approximately 1933 to 1935. Ruth then met John Lihou, and remarried. She became pregnant with her fourth child but died in child birth Feb. 13th, 1937, six months before her 30th birthday. As the Great Depression was on John Lihou could not afford to look after four children. After about a year he was forced to give up the older children. The baby, Ruth Lihou, had survived at birth and was raised by her father and his new wife. The two oldest Woodward children, John and Beverly, went into foster homes in New Westminster until 1942. Eventually John and Bev were taken in by their grandparents, the Ash Family, whose farm was on Highway #10 almost across from the original Woodward Farm House and property. John and Bervery attended Lord Tweedsmuir High School.

Cecil and Gertrude Collishaw

Harry Woodward's sister Gertrude had married William Cecil Collishaw of White Rock. Ruth Woodward's youngest son, Raymond, was taken in by his aunt and uncle and raised in White Rock. Ray attended White Rock Elementary and Semiahmoo High School. Cecil and Gertrude had a family of their own; a son, Len, and two daughters, Edythe and Doreen.


Ray Woodward went into the automotive garage business, operating one on Marine Drive in White Rock, in partnership with Byrl Darling, before moving to the corner of 16th Avenue and 152nd Street (North Bluff and Johnston Road) and operating Coast Motors, a Shell Service Station and car wash. Today that is the site of the Royal Place Mall and Ray remains the owner. Ray married Jacqueline (Jackie) Carol Smith and had four children. William Thomas(Tom) whose extensive research is the basis of this history, Robert Steven(Steve), Cynthia(Cindy) Louise McGarva, and Kenneth James(Jim).

Ray and Jackie Woodward
  • This is Ray and Jackie Woodward's wedding, June, 30th 1952.
  • Adults are shown L to R.
  • Ken Rumble, Gloria (Harris) Magley, John Woodward, Jacqueline (Smith) Woodward, Bonnie (Smith) Melko, Len Collishaw.
  • Girls L to R: Linda (Woodward) Stanton, Valerie (Arell) Galey.
John and Louise Woodward

John Woodward married B. Louise Wade and resided in New Westminster. John went into the Real Estate business with J.K. Cooper Real Estate. John and Louise had one daughter Linda (Woodward) Stanton and a son Eric John(Jack). This is John and Louise's wedding picture. On the left is Beverly Woodward and on the right is Norman Wade. In 1952 John bought two acres of land his great grandfather had settled on and built his family home at 14615 56th Avenue (New McLellan Road), now Highway #10. This property had been the two acres that Mr. Twist and John's father (Harry) had donated, in 1924, to Surrey School District for Woodward's Hill School. When the school closed in 1951 John bought both acres. He built his family home on Mr. Twist's acre and still holds the one acre that the actual school was built on. This is the last acre left from the original preemption of his great grandfather William Woodward in 1873. John now resides on Salt Spring Island and his brother Ray owns a summer house right next door.


Beverly Woodward married Waverly Spetch on April 7th, 1951. The couple lived in Burnaby and Waverly was an electrician contractor with his own company. They had three children; a son, Alan, and two girls, Marcia and Cathy.

Extended Woodward Family
  • This is a picture of the extended Woodward Family taken June 27, 1954 at Peace Arch Park to celebrate the 75th birthday of Lilian Ash.
  • Back Row: Ruth (Lihou) Sather,(half sister to John, Bev, & Ray) Ray Woodward, John Woodward, Wave Spetch, Carl Stenvold.
  • Middle Row: Jackie Woodward, Louise (Wade) Woodward, Lilian Ash, Bev (Woodward) Spetch, Dorothy (Ash) Stenvold.
  • Children on laps: Tom Woodward, Alan Spetch, Roger Stenvold
  • Front Row: Linda & Jack Woodward, Sandra Stenvold
Next Page: Woodward's Hill

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