Surrey History

The Character of Surrey's forests

Douglas Fir

Stands of Douglas Fir such as this, were the mainstay of logging operations in the uplands of Surrey. These fully mature forests provided large dimension timbers as well as construction lumber and railway ties.

The mature evergreen rain forest which existed on the uplands of Surrey at the time of the earliest logging operations contained some of the best timber on the Pacific Coast. The cedars and firs, which dominated the uplands, were both giant species when fully matured; some of the virgin timbers were as great as eighteen and very occasionally twenty–five feet in diameter. As examples it might be mentioned that the King and Allan Logging Company took a fir tree off the Hardy property on Mud Bay Road which measured eleven feet in diameter, thirty–six feet from the butt; and in 1897, fifteen timbers trimmed to dimensions of forty–eight inches by forty–eight inches by one hundred and five feet long were sent to the Chicago exposition. In addition to the high quality of the timber, it was easily accessible, with water transportation being readily available.

Fir and Cedar

Stands of mixed Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar were commonplace on the uplands of Surrey. Some of the best stands in the Lower Fraser Valley were found here.

A description of Surrey's early forests has been given by Margaret M. Stewart.

In very early days the Douglas Fir was considered by far the most valuable and useful timber to be found in British Columbia. After a survey of the timber tracts in the Fraser Valley the Royal City Planing Mills of New Westminster decided that the best stand of Douglas Fir to be found anywhere, and some declared it was the best in the world, was the tract of heavy timber found south of the Nicomekl River in Surrey Municipality.
That wonderful stand of Douglas Fir has been logged of three times: first by use of oxen, then by horses, and finally by the use of the donkey engine.

It was the high quality of Surrey's forests which attracted many people and a number of logging and milling firms into the district, and there is no doubt that Forestry played a distinctive role in the settlement and development of Surrey.

Next Page: Logging in South Surrey

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