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Woodward's Hill, Surrey, BC
Written by Michael Gibbs

 

Woodward's Hill encompasses an area loosely bordered by 60th Avenue to the north, 148th Street to the east, King George Blvd to the west, and the Serpentine River and Colebrook Road to the South.

 
Woodward Hill sign
 

This small part of the City of Surrey has a long and rich history. The area is a south facing slope first settled by William Woodward in 1873. At that time, most inhabitants of Surrey lived along the Fraser River, with a barely passable route called the Kennedy Trail, connecting Brownsville to the Mud Bay flats of the area. William Woodward contracted to build a portion of the Semiahmoo Road from Brownsville up to a bridge at the Serpentine River.

 
Woodward Family Home

William Woodward's family home Woodward Hill

 

William Woodward established a homestead along the road on the hill which would later be named after him. Woodward's holding expanded into a productive farm, and with others improving this area, the Semiahmoo Road became an important link between New Westminster and the US border. The Woodward home was used as a stagecoach stop and even acted as the Post Office for the local farmers.

 

Descendants of the Woodward Family became integral to the dairy industry, dyking projects in the Mud Bay area, formation of the Surrey Co–Op, and even the establishment of the neighbourhood's first school. Although the Woodward family lost control of their farm during the depression, they continued to distinguish themselves in their professional and community contributions.

 
Woodward Hill School First class Woodward Hill school

On the left Woodward Hill school, on the right the first class at Woodward Hill School.

 

The original Woodward's Hill School operated from 1924 to 1951. The building was later used as the Hall at Unwin Park, 134th St, Newton. (The building was eventually demolished in 2002). The two acres on which the school stood, was sold by the Surrey School Board back to John K. Woodward in 1954, who is the great-grandson of William Woodward who pre-empted approx. 197 acres in 1873.  The one last acre was sold to a developer a few years ago and with an agreement between the developer, John and the City of Surrey, they had 55th Avenue named "Woodward Way". Mr. Woodward lives on Salt Spring Island and will turn 94 in June 2021.

 

The Municipal Hall and City services were moved to the vicinity of Woodward's Hill in 1962. Although the City Hall moved in 2014 to City Centre in Whalley, the RCMP, Provincial Courts and Remand Centre remain in Woodward's Hill.

 

The Semiahmoo Road fell into disrepair with the coming of the New Westminster Southern railway in 1891 and the opening of Pacific Highway. The north–south route became the King George Highway after the opening of the Pattullo Bridge in 1937, and was the major route to the USA until the completion of the construction of Hwy #99 in 1965. It remains one of Surrey's major arteries.

 

Woodward's Hill is also bisected by the #10 Hwy, which follows the route of the McLellan and New McLellan Roads. This transportation link was important as it connected Semiahmoo Road to Scott Road, and later to Surrey Centre and Cloverdale. Today it is the major connector between two freeways: Hwy #99 and Hwy #1 – Trans Canada Hwy.

 

Woodward's Hill shares its agricultural beginnings with Surrey's emerging role as a major urban centre. The area still includes hobby farms, spacious lots and new residential projects all surrounded by mature second growth forest.

A new school opened in 2010, was named École Woodward Hill, with many Woodward family members in attendance at the ceremony.

A few Surrey Stories about the area:

Karen and John Edward of Bradford Road, remember the Woodward Hill Store as a local hangout for local kids, as it mainly stocked sweets, pop and ice–cream!

 

Marion and Gaston Depape lived in the area for many years. He raised rabbits, their daughter kept horses, and neighbours raised chickens and sold eggs. Most of their farmland was used for the expansion of Hwy #10.

 

The Henry Tompson family lived at Woodward's Hill early 1920s. Son Johnny played on the school team against Johnston Road boys, but could never beat them! Their house burned down in the great fire of 1925 that swept across Surrey from the northwest.

 

The area shares challenges common to all of Surrey: to balance growth with a quality of life evident since the Woodward family first settled here in 1873.

 

Woodward's Hill, Surrey, BC by Michael Gibbs, SHS President 2015-2020

 

Resources: www.surreyhistory.ca; Surrey City Heritage Website; Along the Way; Tom Woodward; Jim Foulkes; Roger Bose; Ellen Edwards.
 

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