Local History

Heroes of Our History

This weekend at the Surrey Archives and Museum in Cloverdale, well-known heritage consultant, advocate and author, Donald Luxton gave a talk on the process of preserving heritage sites in the face of the continued growth and development in Surrey.

Luxton is basically Metro Vancouver’s local history and heritage rock star.

Donald Luxton

His firm, Donald Luxton & Associates is THE go-to cultural and heritage resource management firm in Western Canada.

If you love local history you should check out some of the richly illustrated books he’s published such as Building the West, Lion’s Gate and Vancouver General Hospital 100 Years of Care and Service.

Donald Luxton Books - Building the West, Lion's Gate and Vancouver General Hospital 100 Years of Care and Service

I am fascinated by local history (a total history nerd, so expect more posts on the subject). My dad was a history prof, I guess it’s in my blood.

Anyway… Luxton met with the Surrey Historical society and discussed some of the problems, successes and rewards of preservation and the Heritage Foundation.

We met with some of the members of the society after the talk and made some new friends. Many of them are retired folks who have witnessed the growth of Surrey from a backwoods farm land with a one-room school, to the second largest city in BC. Imagine!

I spoke with the Surrey Historical Society about two books on local history published by their members. Here’s the videos:

Kennedy’s Trail: Past to Present by John MacDonald

Kennedy's Trail: Past to Present By John MacdonaldThis is the story of how in 1861 James Kennedy made the first settler-built trail in BC’s Lower Mainland, how its route almost became lost to local history, and how the author found remnants of the 150 year old trail in North Delta and Surrey.

John MacDonald has received Friend of Heritage awards from both Delta and Surrey, and is a member of the Surrey Historical Society. He has combined information from historical maps, survey plans, modern maps, satellite images, and photographs to clearly illustrate the route of Kennedy’s trail in relation to other early trails and roads.

The Semiahmoo Trail: Myths, Makers, Memories by Ron Dowle

The Semiahmoo Trail: Myths, Makers, Memories by Ron DowleThe Semiahmoo Trail: Myths, Makers, Memories, pulls back the curtain on a little-known piece of Surrey history. The Semiahmoo Trail was built 1873-74 and crossed Surrey from the Fraser River to the Canada-U.S. border.

Author Ron Dowle has written a highly readable first-ever history of the Trail. The 68-page book includes previously-unpublished material from pioneer writings, surveyor field books and historical plans and maps held in archival collections in British Columbia and Whatcom County in Washington State.

These books are available through the BC Historical Society book sales on-line. They can also be ordered from the Society at (778) 294-1515 or contact jhwb@shaw.ca

Pioneer Profiles

Richard Clement MoodyRichard Clement Moody was the commander of the British Army’s Royal Engineers Columbia Detachment at New Westminster, and BC’s Commissioner of Lands and Works.
James DouglasJames Douglas resided in Victoria. He was Governor of the separate British colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.

Upcoming Events:

Surrey Archives Series

Surrey’s Pioneer Profiles
with Ryan Gallagher

Saturday April 14th, 11 am to 12 noon.
The location to be announced.

The Surrey Historical Society

The Surrey Historical Society was incorporated in 1969 to promote interest in the heritage of the city of Surrey; to identify and support the preservaton of historical materials, site and structures pertaining to the people of Surrey, especially those of early settlers; to support research and documentation of Surrey history; and to publish materials on Surrey’s history.

First Land Owners in Surrey

Old maps

James and Caroline KennedyJames Kennedy was an architect, builder, and an entrepreneur. After some initial difficulty he found work constructing roads and buildings in New Westminster.

In 1860 he became the first person to pre–empt un–surveyed land on the south side of the Fraser River in what is now the Annieville area of North Delta, near the boundary with Surrey.

He taught school at Derby near Fort Langley between 1867 and 1873. He and his sons James M. and Robert eventually pre–empted or purchased more than a thousand acres of land in Delta and Surrey, mostly along Scott Road. Several of his sons worked for The British Columbian newspaper in New Westminster and his sons George, Robert, and James become its owners in 1888. More on the society website…

(Pictured: James and Caroline Kennedy at the time of their marriage in Ontario in 1854)


Daman Beatty
The creator of Surrey604.com, Daman Beatty (AKA 'Beatler') is originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Daddy.