Pictures courtesy of Surrey Archives
The Anderson Farmhouse was designated with the Heritage Register #65 in 1998. The house was built in 1925 on acreage along the Semiahmoo Trail, between 28th. Avenue and 32 Avenue in South Surrey. (See Semiahmoo Trail) As a previous owner and now neighbour Heather Ferguson interviewed family members to add some family stories to the heritage home. Bob Reimer added aerial photos and facts to maintain the historical perspective.
The origins of the New Westminster to Semiahmoo Road have been obscured by a fog of mistaken beliefs and the story told by the few remaining papers is related here for the first time in its 135 year history. It was built as a Wagon Road and formerly ran across Surrey from the Fraser River to the US border, much as the King George Highway does today. Although the construction of the Road had already been given some consideration by the Provincial Government in Victoria it was correspondence from an unlikely source, which, in 1873, finally produced action.
Information about the use made of the Road is sadly lacking and within 30 years of its construction, with the coming of the railways, it was falling into disuse. The Semiahmoo Road was built in 1873–74 to link New Westminster with Semiahmoo; a settlement located at the 49th parallel in US territory where present day Blaine, Washington, now stands. The Road started on the south bank of the Fraser River from Brown's Landing, a wharf built by Ebenezer Brown, a prosperous wine and liquor merchant and a prominent New Westminster citizen. Today, at low tide the remains of wooden pilings can be seen in the Fraser River under the Skytrain Bridge, all that remain of Brown's once busy wharf. Browns' Landing developed into a thriving community which became known as Brownsville. Today it is known as South Westminster and the once respected name of Ebenezer Brown is little remembered.
It is not clear when the romantic notion arose that the Semiahmoo Trail was originally an aboriginal trail to the Fraser River.... No references to the story have been found before the 1970s but it had certainly become a verbal legend by the late 1940s.
Pressures within British Columbia
On July 1st 1871 British Columbia entered Confederation with Canada as a Province. The agreement with British Columbia provided a very generous population estimate which was the basis for annual grants from the Federal Government. The Province was heavily indebted due to road construction during the Cariboo Gold Rush and other regional rushes. There was pent–up demand for many capital projects especially road construction to provide settlement access through many parts of the Province. One of the priority projects was a road from New Westminster to the border community of Semiahmoo (present Blaine, Washington). Courtesy of Jack Brown
It was the Hudson Bay Trading Company 1821, that first paddled their canoes from Fort Vancouver along Crescent Beach and up the Nicomekl River. The Chief Trader James McMillan, explorer was on his way to the Fraser River location of Darby (first location of Fort Langley) to establish a Trading Post to service the trappers in the Pacific North West, which included the Russian trappers along the Alaska panhandle. They paddled through Surrey on the Nicomekl River then portaged to the Salmon River in Langley to the Fraser River.
Map courtesy of Surrey Archives
The first survey of Surrey was done by J.W. Trutch in 1859. The Fraser Valley was surveyed using the Canada US border (49 parallel) and the Coast Meridian (168th St.) as base lines. This survey formed the basis of the New West Minster District Land Registration that is still used today. On the Plan of Township1 West Coast Meridian, the Anderson Farmhouse is in Section 22, North West Quarter on the East side of Semiahmoo Trail. Aerial Photo of Anderson Farmhouse 1961
Areal phot and overlay provided by Surrey Engineering
The 1961 aerial photo shows the Anderson Farmhouse with the barns and fields. To the east is the King George Highway (today called King George Boulevard) and 32nd Avenue to the north. Aerial Photo of Farm House with Development overlay 1995.
Areal phot and overlay provided by Surrey Engineering
The 1961 aerial photograph was overlaid with the Canlan Development proposal of the Heritage Trails subdivision.
In 1995 the Surrey Council passed a bylaw to make a change in the Official Community Plan to allow the area to be sub divided into smaller lots. The application by Canlan to create a subdivision included the Anderson property and surrounding farms east of Semiahmoo trail between 28 Ave. to the south, 32nd Avenue to the north and 148 St. to the east. This development was named Heritage Trails
Areal phot and overlay provided by Surrey Engineering
The Anderson home was no. 65 on Surrey's heritage registry.
Marie Anderson Fostvelt and Ron Marie [are the grandchildren] of John and Charlotte Anderson.
Alice Anderson Harris, daughter of Charlotte and John Anderson born in 1909, Mrs. Harris is 96 years old and well at the time of this writing.
The Anderson Family lived in the Royal Oak area in White Rock but recently they had just moved to White Rock from Nelson BC. Alice Anderson, second born child, was three and a half when she moved to White Rock. Her first school was White Rock Elementary when she turned 6. Her mother Charlotte was of Irish decent. The family moved to Semiahmoo Trail in 1914. One might think that they traveled along Johnson Road to Semiahmoo Trail because that road did exist at the time but it was so deeply rutted that that they had [to make] their own trail. The family moved into an existing house which was positioned further up the hill, further south than the present day heritage house.
1916 – the original house burned down due to a moss fire on the roof. Alice Anderson, with an excellent memory and she's a great story teller, later told the Peace Arch news that she and her brother ran home when they noticed the smoke and found their mother dragging her most prized possession a new wood stove from the house. No one was hurt but the house burned to the ground.
Photo courtesy of Surrey Archives
John Anderson had to walk to Cloverdale and back to get a permit to build a new house.
In the meantime, the family had to have a place to live so they rented a little bungalow on Crescent Road at a house they called the Chantrell house. It's near the Nico–Wynd golf course and Stewart Farm. That house was still there as of 2004 but not sure if it still is. Alice remembered the water of the Nicomekl River would lap at the back door after a heavy rain and high tide. It was not a dry house. Looking at that little house now, the dyke along the river keeps the water back about 400 metres.
This was a hard working but poor family, 9 children at this stage. John Anderson was a carpenter by trade. He was also locally known as a water diviner. He would later locate a water well for the Elgin School location which then made it possible to build a school at the corner of Semiahmoo Trail and Crescent Road.
For 5 years after the fire, John worked part time at hand digging and pouring the foundation for the new home. Without credit in those days, buying all the supplies to build a new home was a long–term project on top of the rent and expenses of daily living. The house was built separately from the foundation and when it was ready they hauled it uphill drawn by horses and placed it on the foundation. The upstairs portion was added on in another separate phase of the construction.
Fishing salmon in the Nicomekl was one way the family survived and brought in some extra income. This was a fall activity. Alice remembered that you could get 50 cents per salmon which truly was a good sum back then. A commercial boat came up the river from Blackie's Spit each day to buy up the fish that had been caught. Alice remembers that there were rules about what time you could fish each day and that she and her brothers were good about abiding by the rules.
The family with 9 children moved back to Semiahmoo Trail in 1921 and left the rented house on Crescent Road.
On December 9th 1921, the youngest child, number 10, Alice's youngest brother was born. Alice remembers this night. She was 10 years old and she was worried for her mother. Her brothers and father were all gone to the river to fish. It was a very foggy night and she was worried that she'd be sent out in it to look for them but at the same time she did not want to leave her mother alone.
Elenor and Dave Anderson
Photo courtesy of Surrey Archives
Her mother planted the willow tree that year.
The bedrooms upstairs were occupied by the four girls in the bedroom facing west. Four boys were in the bedroom facing east and the baby brother was in the bedroom with the parents at the bottom of the stairs.
This only accounts for 9 of the 10 children and unfortunately this is due to a death. The eldest brother, John, accidentally shot himself with a rifle while lighting a cigarette. He reached up to light, dropped the gun which hit the ground, and it went off and shot him. John was 20. At the time he had just finished taking a mail order course on how to build motor cars. It was $5/month for the course. There is a photograph of John with the first motor car that he built from a kit.
Alice played a part in encouraging her mother to make money in new ways in order to augment her father's income as a carpenter. They raised some cows, horses, chickens. They grew an orchard by planted fruit trees. You can still see the a few old fruit trees such as apple and cherry right along Semiahmoo Trail and across the road in what is now the park area behind the elementary school.
Alice remembers her mother making a big dinner with mashed potatoes for the loggers who worked in various logging camps in the area. There were no camps right close by. The nearest neighbours were the Loneys. The Loneys, Jack and James, had 160 acres on the Nicomekl west of Semiahmoo Trail. They raised dairy cattle, pigs, Clydesdale horses, and grain crops. James Loney opened the Thomas and Hookway Ranch on the Mud Bay Kensington and Johnson roads.
Photo courtesy of Surrey Archives
In 1921 the construction of the Elgin Hall school began. John Anderson located a water well which made it all possible. There are contractor stories in Surrey's published history about names of people involved in this project, but Alice remembers her father's role. The hall was constructed under the direction of John Anderson but it was not a paying job, it was a community effort. The first year the school opened they used a tent as the school building. It was dark, cold and wet. When the school was completed, Alice, 15 years old, had the job of getting there early each morning to start the fire and warm up the classroom. She remembers the dark walk along Semiahmoo trail in the early morning having to take care of warming up the class.
Christmas was meagre for this family. It meant a nice meal but was otherwise it was a regular working day. They maybe got a pair of mittens or slippers. It would always be something they needed. There was no extra money for anything. Alice remembers that the first time she ever had an orange was at Elgin School when she was 15. She remembers many long winters when all other food supplies had run out they ate oatmeal and apples everyday. She laughs that this is the secret to a long healthy life. Alice later went to high school in Crescent Park, the one room school house that still exists. Not all girls went to high school, but she was a good student and determined. She walked there and back each day. She followed a trail that was wooded the whole way.
Alice married and moved to Vancouver with her new husband. She moved to the address where she still resides. She and her family continued to travel to the farm each summer to help with the farm and visit the younger siblings. It was a full day's journey from Vancouver to White Rock's Semiahmoo Trail. John and Charlotte moved to Vancouver themselves in 1944 by which time Alice was 35.
Alice Kenny and Ernie Kenny started the EE Mink Ranch.
Children: Richard, Barbara, Margie, Doug and Doreen. This family had moved from the Grande Prairie area of Alberta.
Remember the house was built to face Semiahmoo Trail. The front door is facing the trail with steps up to the glassed–in wrap–around porch and front entry way. The representatives from the Hudson Bay Company come each year to meet with Mr. Kenney and make deals for the prized mink fur. One year the twins, Doug and Doreen, youngest of the 5 children belonging to the Kenny–s hid in the built–in bookshelf and wall cupboard in the living room by the fireplace. Much to their mother's surprise they jumped out just as she was serving tea to the gentlemen from Hudson's Bay and embarrassed her, nearly making her spill the tea.
The living room has cream coloured walls, a white mantle over the fireplace and brown/red brickwork around the fireplace.
The kitchen area was at that time is now the living room/dining room area. All the kitchen appliances and plumbing were here. The sink was against a barn board wall. The floor was linoleum. There were stairs down to the basement in the corner of the kitchen. This beneath the stairs going up–down in the basement was the sawdust furnace, the washer and dryer and a sewing area.
The master bedroom was at the bottom of the stairs going up. This is where the parents and the twins slept with the older 3 children upstairs in separate rooms. There was she living along the landing at the top of the stairs. The bathroom was always in the same place as it is now.
Outside the house, out the kitchen window to the north facing direction was a big riding ring. This replaced the Anderson's former large chicken bam. The ring was surrounded by cottonwood trees with lights in them for riding at night. Inside the middle of the ring was is a large BBQ area. Richard had an elaborate tree fort on the north side of the tree grouping at the edge of the riding ring. The Kenny's always kept sheep on the property to keep the brambles down.
The exterior of the house is wooden siding perhaps shingles. They are sky blue colour around the bottom. Same blue trim around the windows.
Interestingly, this farm never had a well. There were enough artesian groundwater sources up the hill towards the present day "Rona store" and further to the south that they never had to pump for water. They had several free flowing, gravity driven, set–ups that brought water through ceramic tile to the house and to all the barns. Water from directly east, today's RONA area was for the animals and water from the region further south near the street 30th Ave and 147A had a high volume of good quality water which was delivered to the house. The full size of the farm was diminished by some sub–dividing of the south edge of the property along Semiahmoo Trail. The north edge was sold to the Olafson's who still live there. Across the Semiahmoo Trail on the west side was a wheat filed with a creek running through it that runs to Elgin Creek. The creek is called Anderson creek. This piece of the property was sub–divided and sold to the Dunsford's. Mavis Dunsford still lives there to this day.
The following information was gathered by watching historical films and videos dated 1956–1972.
The Kenny's had to clear the orchard trees to make room for the 10 mink sheds. They bulldozed the orchard.
The Kenny children entertained themselves in winter by getting pulled around in a toboggan behind a horse. Their pet collie dogs danced all around them. There are many winters with lots of snow.
In the old red barn, poor Marge fell through the floor into a manure pile. In the barn, they kept calves and foals. In the films, we see ducks, sheep too. Richard has a pet skunk.
Richard and Chip Hebert are teenagers and built a go cart. They wore cowboy hats rode horses and re–built a 1947 Mercury. (interestingly, it was Chip Hebert who worked for B&B Construction in 1996 that would later demolish the buildings and fences in preparation for Canlans's housing development). Chip Hebert recalls fondly that he and Richard planted the cedar tree, in front of the house near the edge of Semiahmoo Trail, as commemoration of the BC Centennial, that would be 1971 so cedars grow well in the Tight place. That's a big tree now.
Kenny's were a horse family and regularly visited the Cloverdale rodeos and parade. They were all horse riders. It was the Kenny family that originated the riding trails in what later became the Sunnyside Urban forest. The Kenny family cut the trails over the course of many years.
A two–car garage was build out back. This would later become a pool house when the Day's take over the property. It is white with horizontal siding. The garage was turned into a room for a long–term boarder and friend of the Richards, Ian Smith. Ian lived in the garage for several years. Later, he bought himself a property on Semiahmoo Trail just on the opposite side of the trail and up hill to the south about 400 metres. He married and raised his family there and lives there to this day with the sign "Gray Wolf" at the driveway entrance. Ian Smith is a custom sheet metal tradesman and raises honey bees.
Christmas talent shows were the highlight of many years of filming. The Christmas tree was in the living room, in the comer by the fireplace (this is the original living room). People walk through the large archway which joins to the kitchen area. Parties with 30–40 people were common. A giant eating table goes across the kitchen along the south wall of the house under the windows. One of these windows is the window that is now a mirror in the hallway (2004). Everyone is seated for the dinner.
In the archway between the Kitchen and living room a jolly jumper is attached. And there's a baby jumping up and down.
1958–1959 the whole family is learning to do the twist in the living room. Lots of little children, lots of Kenny relatives, and Santa Claus.
1960 Crescent Beach parade.
1960 Doug and Doreen have separate birthday parties this year. They turn 8.
1960 Barbara is the Surrey Rodeo Queen, Cloverdale Rodeo parade.
The children play baseball in the yard with the willow tree as the centre. (this is interesting because it's the same game in the same place 40 years later). The children run the bases by using the trees around the willow as bases. Three of the five trees in the video are still in the yard.
10 mink sheds. An electric mink feeding cart to automate the feeding.
The process as shown: mink look a lot like otters. These were Saphire mink, pastel variety. Surprisingly, the children pick them up and cuddle them.
Mr. Kenny shows many awards for raising the best mink in Canada year after year,
The Kenny's subdivided another piece of the property halfway between the Olafson's and 3082. They moved next door in 1973. The children are now grown up Ernie retires. Alice Kenny lived there until Canlan purchased her house in 1993. She now lives near Ocean Bluff, 20th Ave and 144. One of daughters stayed very serious in the riding world and lives near the Spruce Meadows facility just south of Calgary.
Ed Kenny with horse Semi
Founder of the Peninsula medical clinic in the shopping mall on 24th Ave. Mr. Day is a successful doctor and businessman. The swimming pool was built on the property and pool house. The house became well known for the great pool parties. The property was sold to developers Canlan but Steve Day asked for the original house not to be demolished because he wanted the option to move back in. For 2 more years, the house was rented as the whole project hung in limbo waiting for final approval. Eventually Steve decided that Canlan could sell it. He was happily living in West Elgin estates and enjoying his other new home in Whistler. Steve loved that house and again came by in 2004 to help locate what would have been a furnace oil storage tank. It had long ago been in the centre of the riding ring so long since removed and houses are now built over that location. He toured the house and still wished he'd kept it. He loves the property.
The Fergusons, both geologists, moved to White Rock from Fort McMurray, Alberta. They were motivated by a taste for history and the opportunity to save a character home. It was almost a year before any construction began on Heritage Trails so it was country living on 12 acres. Outside the landscaping had to be changed to reorient the back of the property to become the front. The Ferguson's enjoyed visits from the former inhabitants such as Alice Anderson Harris, Alice Kenny, and Stephen Day. The Anderson Family with their descendants of 10 children continue to honour their farm on Semiahmoo Trail and continue hold family reunions at Elgin Hall and stop to take pictures at the farm. Like all previous owners over the past 55 years, the Fergusons did not move far away, only 1000 feet north, next door to the Olafson farm.
Ed Kenny with horse Semi
Just a short walk north on Semiahmoo Trail is the Elgin School. On April 30, 1921 money was set aside to build a new school at Elgin. Mr. Edward Irwin was awarded the contract for the building for $1530. Elgin School opened on October 1st, 1921. The teacher, Miss Christine McIvor had taught at Mud Bay for a month before moving to the new school. Mud Bay School was finally closed. Elgin operated as a one room school but in more recent years as a 1–room 1–3 school. Mrs. Alice Sears taught at Elgin from 1965 – 1984 and when the school closed that year she retired. It has been retained as a heritage site and a Surrey Recreation Pre–School center.
Mrs. Alice Sears
The photo is of teacher Alice Sears gathering her pupils around her for a story. The occasion was Mrs. Sears retirement after 35 years as a teacher and the closing of Elgin Elementary. "The little green school house on 144th Street was built in 1921, but it has been deemed on longer cost effective with only 13 kids in Grade 1 and 2 this last term. Mrs. Sears, Elgin's only teacher for 19 years, was a loving touching person who knows when a child need a hug. She always gave her pupils a good start by stressing values and the three R's and teaching them to help one another." The Province, June 11, 1984. Clipping provided by Nancy Dawson, niece of Alice Sears.
This account is taken from an anonymous, unpublished, hand written account that might have been written in 1961. The manuscript was provided courtesy of Terry Simpson, the son of Miss Myrtle Irwin (one of the early teachers), later Mrs. Myrtle (Pete) Simpson.
The history of Elgin school began one evening forty years ago when a meeting was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Loney. The subject to be discussed was whether the old red school house on the old Mud Bay Road (now King George Highway) should be moved over to the hill or a new school be built. The old school was always flooded in the winter and spring and the children had to build rafts to get to and from the outhouses. Also, there were more children living in the hillside areas. After much arguing for and against, it was finally decided to build a new school, the site to be on the corner of the Semiahmoo Trail and the Archibald Road. This piece of land was purchased from Mrs. Alex Lamb. Mr. Edward Irwin was given the contract build the school. The lumber was hauled with team and wagons by a Mr. Jones. He was the son of an old timer from Hazelmere known as "Waterwitch Jones".
Map of heritage water wells