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A Historic Look Into Surrey: A City of Stories

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Surrey, British Columbia is met with a mixed reputation in the eye of our surrounding provinces. For years, the media has put a main focus on negative events that take place, as it does with most cities, never bringing attention to our growing community, developing infrastructure, and the unique, good-hearted people that choose to call this place home. What most don’t know is that Surrey possesses a rich history far greater than what many of its inhabitants could imagine. In celebration of Canada 150, author K. Jane Watt has penned Surrey: A City of Stories , which she hopes will shine a light on our evolving community’s past, present, and future.

“People we spoke to told us over and over again what a great place Surrey is to live, and to raise a family,” Watt explains. “We were told repeatedly that residents here are tired of the negative spin that outside newsmedia puts on life here. They wanted this book to be a celebration of human connection and human ingenuity over time. I think we have done that.”

Surrey: A City of Stories is a visual record that details the history of Surrey’s early years and growth into the the modern society it is today. This book, made in partnership with the Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission, Surrey Archives, Surrey Museum, and Surrey Historical Society, trails the city as far back as the 1700s, giving readers an in-depth look at the landmarks, artifacts, and those who were here before us, the Indigenous peoples and European discoverers.

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“Surrey has an incredible history, and one that is little-known,” the author states. “This place on which we all live is a known land, and it has been a beloved home for Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Katzie tribes since long before Europeans arrived. Descendants of each of these nations still live here, they still call this place home.” Watt continues: “We wanted this new history of Surrey to span that breadth of time and experience, and remind readers that this remains traditional territory, the ancestral home of modern Indigenous people with ancient roots. They are part of the fabric of today’s Surrey. That’s how we began the book and we carried on from there.”

Pages are decorated with hundreds of eye-catching images profound enough to carry the weight of this nearly 290 page historical encyclopedia. Surrey: A City of Stories does not hold back in giving readers a visual guide as informative as the words they support, providing an intimate look into the city’s evolution over time.

“We wanted this book to be a gorgeous and colourful celebration of Surrey’s history. We worked closely with book designer William Glasgow to showcase material and to make the pages engaging. We also included maps and original handwritten documents. We want people to get a glimpse of the holdings, and hear parts of human stories. We want the material in the book to spark dialogue and connection.”

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Upon opening the book’s hardcover, you are immediately greeted by a First Nations art-piece entitled “Paddling Through the Waves of Change” by Phyllis Atkins. The work features a male and female salmon etched to the side of the canoe as it rides the ocean-waves beneath the sun. The opening pages contain photographs that span from the 1800s through modern times and the book’s dialogue begins with a quote from local-man Henry Thrift, taken from the 1929 newspaper the Surrey Gazette. The near-90 year old quote still holds truth to this very day.

“The municipality of Surrey had its ups and downs, but has come through it all stronger than ever, prepared to meet the future that it has before it.” – Henry Theft, the Surrey Gazette .

K. Jane Watt will be doing a reading of the book at Semiahmoo Library on Thursday, November 16.

“It’s kind of a ‘behind the scenes’ presentation. I’ll be talking about the journey to create this book, introducing people we met along the way, both historical and modern, and telling their stories. We will also be showing some of the incredible photographs and maps that grace the book and talking about the decisions we made as we put the book together.”

Watt concludes with an ode to her partners in creating this proud work: “My name is on the cover of the book, but it depended on the hard work, trust and vision of lots of people. Surrey: A City of Stories was a deeply collaborative project.“

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Copies of Surrey: A City of Stories will be available at K. Jane Watt’s reading at the Semiahmoo Library on Thursday, November 16. To register, call 604-502-6459 or email archives@surrey.ca The book can also be purchased online as well as at various city locations. To find out how you can get your copy visit | www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/

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Jonathan Nicholas “Johnny” Papan is a Canadian writer, filmmaker, and musician born in Surrey, British Columbia to a Guyanese mother and half-Hungarian, half-Trinidadian father. Aside from film and music, Johnny also enjoys performing standup comedy. His interest in journalism surfaced after watching documentaries on influential writers Nora Ephron and Hunter S. Thompson. - www.johnnypapan.tk

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Local History

Discover first major exhibit in Canada to shine spotlight on Surrey’s Punjabis

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Surrey, BC – A contemporary and engaging exhibit led by Surrey’s Punjabi community is coming to Museum of Surrey October 2 to February 23.

Being Punjabi: Unfolding the Surrey Story is the first major exhibition in Canada to shine a spotlight on Surrey’s Punjabis, showcasing their stories of struggle and success. The exhibition is intended to be a catalyst for discussion and sharing, while also documenting histories of this diverse community.

Engage with personal objects, archival documents, art and riveting stories – all brought forth from a diverse group of people in the Punjabi community.

“We are pleased to unveil the first community-led exhibit at the Museum of Surrey, which highlights the vibrant and diverse culture of Surrey’s Punjabi community,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “The Punjabi community has a long history in Surrey and the 16 stories that are the centrepiece of this exhibit will illuminate the contributions they have made to our City. Thank-you to all of the community members who have come forward to share their story and make this feature exhibit such a success.”

Earlier this year, the museum sought the voices of Surrey’s Punjabi community by holding a series of community sharing sessions at locations throughout the city. Staff asked Punjabi residents to share stories, photos and personal objects for display in the exhibit. Sixteen stories have been selected to be the centre of this community-led feature at the Museum of Surrey, which are transcribed in both Punjabi and English.


Artifacts sourced during the sessions, include farming equipment, cooking utensils, historical documents, hand-woven tapestries, textiles and much more. Visitors are also invited to contribute their stories about Punjabi culture via the museum’s Show and Share display on the second floor. People are invited to lend their own objects for display inspired by the exhibit or personal travels and experiences.

This new feature exhibit opens October 2, and the City of Surrey invites members of the public to a free Exhibit Spotlight celebration on October 5 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The family friendly event will include live performance, henna and crafts, as well as free food samples.

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Local History

City Council renames Surrey street to commemorate Komagata Maru victims

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SURREY | Surrey City Council has approved the renaming of a Surrey street to commemorate the victims of the 1914 Komagata Maru incident. At last night’s Regular Council Meeting, Council voted to authorize the installation of commemorative signs that say Komagata Maru Way on 75A Avenue between 120 Street and 121A Street.

“Surrey is a city that embraces diversity and renaming this stretch of road is a reminder that intolerance has no place in our city,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “As we celebrate and welcome people from all over the world, we also need to learn from our past to ensure such injustices never happen again.”

In addition to the commemorative street name signs, Council also approved the installation of a storyboard at R.A Nicholson Park, explaining the history of the Komagata Maru and a city project to document the history and contributions of the earliest South Asian residents in Surrey.
Commemorate the Victims of the Komagata Maru Incident

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Local History

Surrey names park in honour of African American settler

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The City of Surrey announced today a park will be named in honour of one of the first African American families to settle in the area in 1912.  The park site, located in Cloverdale at 64 Avenue and 181A Street, was formerly referred to as 77C Utility Row, and now officially holds the name of Henry Houston Scott Park.

The park sits on part of the original Scott family property and is home to fruit trees originally planted by the family. Along with officially naming the parkland, a heritage sign has been installed to share the Scott family’s story and will allow park users to learn more about the history of their contributions to the community.

“Council is pleased to support the naming of this park, as we recognize the important role that the Scott family played in shaping the community,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Naming this park after Henry Houston Scott provides a sense of history and belonging to our residents and city as a whole.”

Henry Houston Scott was an African American born in 1854 in Texas.  He married Amy Florence Alridge in 1880 and the couple had ten children and resided in various U.S. states before arriving in Canada.  In 1912, the Scotts and three oftheir children, Roy, Jesse and Benola moved to the Fraser Valley, settling in Cloverdale along the border of 64 Avenue and approximately 181A Street.

The Scotts grew hay and farmed dairy cattle which contributed to tremendous growth and development in Cloverdale between 1912 and 1971. When Benola Scott, the family’s youngest child passed away in 1971, she was laid to rest with her family in the Surrey Centre Cemetery, where a family gravestone was installed in 2018.

As the steward of the city’s natural environment, Surrey Parks works together with the community to celebrate nature and protect the environment, while building a legacy for future generations and celebrating Surrey’s rich cultural history.

With over 300 parks, 300km of trails and over 7000 acres of parkland, Surrey is home to an abundance of parks and natural areas interconnected throughout the city. Surrey Parks aims to continually create opportunities for everyone to get outdoors and explore, discover and connect with nature. Surrey is an open, inclusive and diverse city that fully supports and celebrates Black History Month.

For more information, visit surrey.ca/parks.

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20 Years in the Making | #webelong

Did you know that BC was the first province in Canada to close all it’s large institutions that segregated people with developmental disabilities? (Inclusion BC). That was 1996! In 2007, Canada signed the UN Convention on Rights of Person’s with Disabilities, which required member nations to develop legislation that promoted the human rights of person’s with disabilities and create a more inclusive society. (CCD) And in 2009, Canada’s first and largest institution, the “Huronia Regional Center” once known as the “Orilla Asylum for Idiots” finally closed. (Wikipedia) Canada has come a long way in 20 years! Now, those who were segregated are full participants of our culture and society.

And that’s because of Change Makers, who worked tirelessly over the last half a century to make a difference one person, one action, one moment at a time. That’s why we are excited to share our next episode because person’s with disability, and their advocates, are taking their message, their story, our story as a nation, to other countries who are beginning their journey from segregation to inclusion. Get ready for episode 3 where we follow a team from Langley BC to Hunedoara Romania.Help us share their message of inclusion by liking and sharing their story when it premiers this week.

Want to learn more about the history of the disability right movement in Canada, watch this story from Inclusion BC:

Special Thank You to Our Sponsor

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Want to become a change maker too and share your brand message alongside our content and stories?

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Did you know that BC was the first province in Canada to close all it’s large institutions that segregated people with developmental disabilities? (Inclusion BC). That was 1996! In 2007, Canada signed the UN Convention on Rights of Person’s with Disabilities, which required member nations to develop legislation that promoted the human rights of person’s with disabilities and create a more inclusive society. (CCD) And in 2009, Canada’s first and largest institution, the “Huronia Regional Center” once known as the “Orilla Asylum for Idiots” finally closed. (Wikipedia) Canada has come a long way in 20 years! Now, those who were segregated are full participants of our culture and society.

And that’s because of Change Makers, who worked tirelessly over the last half a century to make a difference one person, one action, one moment at a time. That’s why we are excited to share our next episode because person’s with disability, and their advocates, are taking their message, their story, our story as a nation, to other countries who are beginning their journey from segregation to inclusion. Get ready for episode 3 where we follow a team from Langley BC to Hunedoara Romania.Help us share their message of inclusion by liking and sharing their story when it premiers this week.

Want to learn more about the history of the disability right movement in Canada, watch this story from Inclusion BC:

Special Thank You to Our Sponsor

Pacific Development Pathways


Want to become a change maker too and share your brand message alongside our content and stories?

Learn more and download the Sponsorship Package Today! http://bit.ly/TCM-Sponsor-Package


Little Bird Media – www.littlebirdmedia.ca
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/little_bird_media/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/littlebirdmediaca/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/KafkaJJ

Surrey604 – https://surrey604.com/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/surrey604/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Surrey604/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/sry604

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Local History

Guildford Town Centre and Museum of Surrey Hosting ‘What We Bring’ Exhibit

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New Exhibit to Feature Objects and Artifacts That Local Individuals and Families Brought When First Immigrating to Canada

In celebration of Canada Day, Guildford Town Centre and the Museum of Surrey will be hosting a new exhibit, What We Bring, June 25th to July 9th. The exhibit will showcase many beloved objects and artifacts that people carried with them when first immigrating to Canada. What We Bring will be open to visitors during regular mall hours at Centre Court at Guildford Town Centre.

“We are very pleased to bring this exhibit to our shoppers here at Guildford Town Centre. It provides our shoppers with the opportunity to engage with the Museum of Surrey in our Centre while bringing the community together.” Kyla Way, Marketing Director, Guildford Town Centre.

Some of the items that will be on display as part of the exhibit include:

  • An antique trunk brought to Canada in 1914, by nine-year-old Elizabeth Muir when she immigrated to Canada from Scotland aboard the RMS Hesperian. Elizabeth is the grandmother of Kyla Way, Guildford Town Centre’s Marketing Director. One of over 100,000 British Home Children sent to Canada from Great Britain between 1869 and the late 1940s, Elizabeth was given the two-foot by one-foot box to make her journey – it held everything she had in the world when she came to Canada.
  • Hand embroidered wedding gown brought to Canada by Dalia Al Husseini from Palestine. Dalia is from Jerusalem and a shopper at Guildford Town Centre. The gown was worn by Dalia at her wedding and was given to her by her mother in 2009. It is painstakingly handstitched by Palestinian refugee and expert embroiderer Raghad Hatahet.
  • A Teddy Bear won at a State Fair in the 1950’s lent by Trudy Deichen of Surrey, BC and shopper of Guildford Town Centre. This teddy bear with red fur body and red fur chest was won by Trudy Deichen’s father for her at a state fair in Washington State when she was 8 years old.  Her father Jimmy Parker worked as a logger. Trudy was born in Bellingham and grew up on Orcas Island. Her family was a pioneer family on Orcas for hundreds of years, and their items are still displayed in the local museum. She later immigrated to Canada with her husband who was a teacher.  The bear is one of only 2 items Trudy has left from her childhood.
  • A Cake Pan with recipe lent to the exhibit by Sharon Clayton of Surrey, BC and Guildford Town Centre shopper. The items were brought to Canada by Sharon’s mother Marjorie Kentish Davis who lived in Jamaica and who met her husband Kenneth MacRae Campbell in Jamaica. He was a piper in the Canadian army. Mary was a war bride from Jamaica to Canada. There were many war brides from England to Canada, but not many know about women from Jamaica to Canada.  The items were lent by Sharon Joan MacRae Campbell (now Clayton) who was the first-born child of Marjorie Kentish Davis. She was born in Jamaica. The cake pan on display and recipe were Sharon’s mothers. The pan was used to make Jamaican Christmas Pudding a traditional pudding that was steamed.
  • A Briefcase from Thailand “Hitachi” from about 1990 on loan from Mr. Win Zaw  of Surrey, BC and a shopper at Guildford Town Centre. He has lived in Canada for 30 years. Before he came to Canada he was a refugee from Myanmar (Burma) to Thailand.  On display is a photo ID from a refugee labor camp where he lived in Thailand. The briefcase was purchased in Thailand and came to Canada when Mr. Zaw immigrated. He said inside were his few possessions including 500 Thai Baht, about $20 Canadian.

“Talking to shoppers we heard so many deeply sentimental stories and learning that this exhibit matters to the people of Surrey. Our vision is to be the best people’s museum in Canada. And so, with this exhibit, it is important for us to be in a public location such as Guildford Town Centre and to talk to people who may not often visit the Museum. We want to tell the stories of the people of Surrey.” Colleen Sharpe, Curator of Exhibits, Museum of Surrey.

For more information visit www.guildfordtowncentre.com

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