Monday, March 10, 2014

The Mystique of Surrey, British Columbia

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The Mystique of Surrey, British Columbia

By Kobeni Yonomori
The Daily Magi
September 10, 2065

Surrey is a city in the province of British Columbia, Canada. It is a member municipality of Metro Vancouver, the governing body of the Greater Vancouver Regional District. It is the province's third-largest city by population after the cities of Mitakihara and Vancouver. The six "town centres" the City of Surrey comprises are: Fleetwood, Whalley/City Centre, Guildford, Newton, Cloverdale, and South Surrey.

Surrey became incorporated in 1879, and encompasses land formerly occupied by a number of Halqemeylem-speaking aboriginal groups. When Englishman H.J. Brewer looked across the Fraser River from New Westminster and saw a land reminiscent of his native County of Surrey in England, the settlement of Surrey was placed on the map. The area then comprised forests of douglas-fir, fir, red cedar, hemlock, blackberry bushes, and cranberry bogs. A portion of present-day Whalley (named after Harry Whalley, who owned and operated a gas bar at the bend in King George Blvd, (formerly King George Highway) at 108 Avenue, "Whalley's Corner") was used as a burial ground by the Kwantlen (or Qw’ontl’en) Nation.

Settlers arrived first in Cloverdale and parts of South Surrey, mostly to farm, fish, harvest oysters, or set up small stores. Once the Pattullo Bridge was erected in 1937, the way was open for Surrey to expand. In the post-war 1950s, North Surrey's neighbourhoods filled with single family homes and Surrey (not yet a city) became a bedroom community, absorbing commuters who worked in Burnaby or Vancouver.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Surrey witnessed unprecedented growth, as people from different parts of Canada and the world, particularly Asia, began to make the municipality their home.

The first settlement of Surrey was Crescent Beach, in South Surrey, and Bridgeview/Brownsville, in North Surrey. Early trails and roads helped to encourage the settlement of Surrey. The first trail built by a settler was the 1861 the Kennedy Trail. James Kennedy built the trail to provide a route between New Westminster and the natural pasture land on the Mud Bay Flats next to the Serpentine River. The Semiahmoo Wagon Road was built in 1873 between Brownsville opposite New Westminster and Semiahmoo (Blaine). The first regular ferry service across the Fraser River started in 1882 on the steam ferry K de K with the point of departure at Brownsville. The ferry landed on the Surrey side at the start of the Old Yale Road, which connected directly inland to Yale, and was a major gold rush trail.

The New Westminster Rail Bridge was opened in 1904, allowing personal vehicles to cross the Fraser River on the upper deck. The lower deck, for rail, enabled BC Electric Railway to finally construct the Interurban line, an electric suburb commuter rail route connecting Chilliwack to Vancouver. It opened for service in 1910, and ran through Kennedy, Newton, Sullivan, and Cloverdale. 

In 1937, the then two-lane Pattullo Bridge linking New Westminster and Surrey was opened.

In the early 1950s, BC Electric Railways ceased operating its interurban line, thus increasing the number of vehicles on Surrey roads. Highway 10 was built in 1953, and Highway 15 in 1957. In 1964, the provincial government completed Highway 401 and the Port Mann Bridge; that section of roadway would later be renamed Highway 1. In 1959, the George Massey Tunnel was opened, along with what is known as Highway 99. With the completion of the new Highways 1 and 99, the Fraser Highway and King George Boulevard became major arteries.

In the early 1990s, Surrey saw the return of rail transit with the SkyTrain Expo Line expansion into Surrey. The four stations added were Scott Road, Gateway, Surrey Central (and bus loop) and King George.

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