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The History of the Bose Farm

This history is a composite of original research essays produced for Mr. Brown's Social Studies 11 classes at Lord Tweedsmuir. The main contributors were: Donald Bose, 1975; Vern Bose, 1979. Further consultation and contributions were provided by Roger Bose.

Henry Bose was born in the City of London in the year 1868. In his younger years, he dreamed of sailing to far distant lands. At the age of 20, he set off in a sailing ship in search of those dreams.


After a year at sea and he realized that the life on the sea was not for him. By 1890, and at the age of 22, he had arrived in New Westminster, British Columbia. He soon found work and his first job was building a dam near the mouth of the Serpentine River. Seeing the quality of land in Surrey, he decided to try his hand at farming and in 1892 he took up land at Fry's corner. This property was extremely wet and the land flooded the first year. He tried that location for two years, but the land was not rewarding and, as a result, he decided to try his luck the Surrey Centre area. Henry purchased a quarter-section on the east bank of the Serpentine and on the north side of the present 64th Avenue (Bose Road). A quarter section was a piece of land a half mile square and contained 160 acres. At that time, there were no dykes on the river, so Henry built his shack on the bank. It wasn't a very impressive dwelling, but in those days he didn't need much more. He cleared 30 to 35 acres on the flats. The land was covered with hard hack and blue joint grass as the lowland kept flooding seasonally and it was too wet for trees. The land was low and swampy that he used bog shoes on the horses when plowing. The shoes were pieces of plank 2 inches (5cm) thick and 12 inches (30cm) square. They were bolted onto the horse's hoofs to prevent them from sinking in the wet earth.

Map of the Bose Farm 1900

This map shows the land that Henry Bose acquired after 1900. It also shows the location of his original shack on the banks of the Serpentine and the location of the current Bose Family home.


As Henry cleared his land any logs would be hauled to the ditches running into the river or the river itself. The logs would be floated down the river to lumber camps which were situated along the waterway. Henry floated a large number of shingle bolts down the river. These were large cedar slabs which, when received at the mill, would be split into shingles.


The first crops Henry tried to grow were hay and oats which were the popular grains which could be sold for the feeding of horses and cattle. The haying process consisted of; scything the hay, forking it around until it was dry, and then loading it on wagons and taking it to the barn for storage. A great many man-hours were entailed in this process. He also raised chickens and eggs that could easily be sold at Farmer's Markets. He also kept cows, pigs and some horses. However, in the early years most of his time was spent in clearing the land and farming the land that he had cleared.


The land would flood with the combination of high tides and heavy rainfall. The early farmers, such as Henry, had to build dykes by hand. These shut out the tides and dried out the land. The original lands were higher than the fields today as the tide no longer floods the land and covers the fields with silt. The drying of the soil and cultivation has lowered the land.


There were no roads or bridges in the area at that time, so most transportation was by water. There were no stores easily accessible at that time, so it was necessary to live off the land. In the 1890s, that was not difficult, as he could feed himself off the numerous wild duck in the area. There was also many deer, bear, pheasants and willow grouse. Henry loaded his own shells and such was the abundance of game that he had only to step outside his shack and in a very short time would have meat for his table.


Henry's brother Louis had come to Canada after Henry had established himself. He bought 20 acres at the top of the hill from the Boothroyds. There around 1899, they built the first half of the Bose home. Henry lived with his brother and when Louis moved back to England Henry acquired the twenty acres and the home. He then bought another quarter section around the hill side and half way to the Serpentine on the south side of what is now 64th Avenue. Later he purchased another field near the Serpentine River, quite a distance back from the present Bose Road.


Realizing the necessity of a road in the area, Henry cleared a trail from his home at the top of the hill to Coast Meridian Road, (now 168th Street). This trail became an important link for the early pioneers, who carried their produce to New Westminster every Friday where it would be sold at the Farmer's Market. These farmers would then bring back over the same trail those store bought goods they could not provide themselves. The Johnston Family had improved a trail north to Yale Road and this was named Johnston Road (152nd Street). It connected to a trail link connecting with Bose Road. A bridge over the Serpentine was built around 1912 or 1913. This was called the Huck Bridge. Bose Road was then extended west to meet Johnston Road and this became an important connector.


In those pioneer days, roads were infrequent, and if they did exist they were in extremely poor conditions. Those few gravel roads were considered good roads. Most roads, at that time, were corduroy roads. These were no more than trails covered with split cedar slabs which may or may not have been covered with gravel. The roads were not fit for heavy hauling, so most hauling was done by barges on the rivers. The barges would go along the coast and enter the mouth of the river. The barge men would anchor there until the tide started going in and they would follow the river assisted by the tide. When the tide started to recede, the barge men would anchor the barge and wait for the next incoming tide. They would continue up the river to their destination in this way. The barge men used poles to push themselves, and to prevent the barges from running aground. When they picked up or unladed their cargo, they would then return to the mouth of the river in the same manner. Huck Bridge was frequently used for loading and unloading shipments. Henry's first barn was built near the Serpentine River to facilitate the movement of the bulk products.


In the late 1890s, a store opened in Surrey Centre. John Churchland, with his wife Emma, and young family left Liverpool, England for Canada. After landing in Montreal, they traveled by CPR through to Vancouver. The Churchland's rented a home in New Westminster until they located in Surrey. Their first home was a split cedar store and house just down the hill from Christ Church. This had been the former Abraham Huck's home and store. Within three months of leaving England, John had put in a small stock and the store was open for business. This was a temporary location as Mr. Churchland purchased six acres at the corner of the Old McLellan and Coast Meridian Roads from Mr. Richardson. Here he enlarged an existing store which became known as Surrey Centre Store and Post Office. (See Surrey Centre Stores)

Harold Atlee and Mrs. Emma Churchland Emma Churchland's home

This picture shows Harold Atlee and Mrs. Emma Churchland aboard his horse and wagon. After John died in 1919, the Bose Family built Emma Chuchland a home within the Bose Family homestead. This is Emma's home.


Henry was a regular customer at the store. He would carry a hundred pound sacks of feed on his back the one mile to his farm in order to provide feed for his chickens. One of the attractions at the store was John's daughter May. In 1901, Henry married Miss May Churchland. In exchange for the hand of his daughter, Henry gave the land south of his original quarter section to his Father-in-Law, John Churchland. Henry and May had seven children in total: the two boys, Harry and Norman; and five daughters Anna, Phyllis, Dorothy, Beatrice and Katherine. Harry was born on March 10th, 1903. All of the children attended Surrey Centre School.

Henry and May Bose and children The Bose girls

The picture on the left is the Henry and May's family with the first four of their children. Anna is next to Henry, Phyllis is on the left, Harry is front centre and Norman is in May's arms. The picture on the right is of the Bose girls along with May. Anna is back left, Phyllis is on the right, Dorothy is left centre, and Beatrice is right centre.

Family picnic on Blackies Spit
Family names

After his marriage, Henry built the second part of the family home. Between 1900 and 1907, he built a number of buildings, all of which were on the 20 acres he bought from his brother Louis. These included a chicken barn, a cow barn, a horse barn, and a few sheds. In the early years of the 20th century Henry had about 100 chickens, 5 to 6 milk cows and some horses. Hay and grains were his most important crops.

Bose Family home

The Bose Family Home was and still is considered one of Surrey's heritage home. The home was built between in sections between 1899 and 1907. Henry Bose is leaning against the porch of the home.

Calf barn Horse barn

Just after the turn of the century, Henry made a number of additions to his farm. On the left, is the early calf barn he build and on the right is the horse barn. Both of these are considered heritage buildings.


As years went by, advancements were made. The hay was mowed down with a horse-drawn machine, and put in rows by a dump rake, also horse-drawn. The dump rake pulled the hay along, and at regular intervals released it by raising the forks with a lever. If the hay was wet a tedder was used to shake up the hay to aid the drying process. The hay was then put in stooks by hand with a hay fork. It helped the hay dry, shed the rain, and was a help in the gathering process. After a few days in the sun, the hay was loaded onto wagons and hauled to the barn where it was picked by harpoon forks, in four to five hundred pound bundles, and dropped inside the barn. It would then be moved and leveled. If the hay was brought to the barn loose it was fed to the cows loose. If the hay was to be sold or transported it could be bailed in the field. The hay would be fed into a stationary bailer. As the hay was being compressed, wires would be wrapped around it and tied by hand. The bales would be weighed. These weights would be recorded on a master sheet and written on small pieces of cedar and attached to the individual bales. These bales, which weighted an average of 120 pounds, would be stacked up to eighteen tiers high. Later, Henry got a pickup bailer which was pulled by a tractor. It was fed from the top, and, as in the stationary bailer, the bales had to be tied by hand with wire.

Plowing Cutting grain
Harvesting hay Hay wagons

In the Spring, teams would plow the fields. As the grain ripened teams would cut the grains or hay. Workers would coil the hay into stacks that could then be moved to the barn or the thrashing machine.


In the 1940s, hay was sold to Dairyland to provide feed for the milk delivery horses. In the 1970s and 80s the hay, grains and straw was sold to the Cloverdale Raceway to supply the race horses.


Oats were another of the early crops. Henry started planting oats around 1908. When harvesting with a binder, the first step was to cut down the oats. The binder was drawn by horses and as it moved, it cut the oats down, which fell onto a canvas which was on another part of the binder and the staves were tied in bundles. These bundles were stoke by hand and built into piles in the field until they were able to obtain the use of a threshing machine. There was only one threshing machine in the area, which was owned by the Bose Family, and it moved the District from field to field. The threshers were powered by a steam tractor. The bundles of oats were fed into it and as the oats come out the spout they were sacked. The sacks were sewed and piled. Later, more modern tractors were used and still later, a combine was bought.

Threshing machine

In the early days, the crop to be thrashed had to be brought to the threshing machine. These machines were powered by steam tractors and the sparks that came from the stack meant that is had to be positioned well away from the threshing machine. The grain was bagged before moving it to a storage facility.

Threshing Bring in the hay

Grains would be fed into the threshing machine by hand and the product bagged into bags weighing approximately 100 lbs. These were stacked in the field before moving. Loose hay was coiled and forked aboard hay wagons for movement toward the barn. Grains were coiled and moved toward the threshing machines.


Between 1912 and 1920, Henry kept on clearing the north side of Bose Road. He had Chinese labourers who cleared the best part of the land. They also dug the ditches to drain the land into the Serpentine. In 1918, part of the foot hill was cleared. There were a lot of underground stumps in the foot hill. These trees had been buried by glacial till during the last ice age. The stumps were the remnants.


With the added acreage, Henry began to grow potatoes. In the later years, he grew around fifty or sixty acres of potatoes, which, at that time, was considered a large amount. The potatoes had to be dug by hand. About 60 lbs of potatoes were sacked and then moved to a barn for grading. The graded potatoes were bagged in 100 lb. sacks and put in sacks of about a hundred pounds each. Later on a mechanical digger was acquired which dug a single row out of the ground and let the potatoes fall behind the machine. Workers would walk along behind and put the potatoes into sacks. These also would be moved, stored and graded and put into 100 lb. sacks.


The early seeding process consisted of plowing the ground and seeding every third furrow. The planted furrows were then covered over. Later on, more advanced seeding machines were purchased. These seeded one row and put in fertilizer at the same time.


The Bose family did not remain as potato farmers from 1915 to 1960. In those days, as now, potato farming was a chancy business. One day your crop could be worth a hundred dollars a ton and the next day it would be worth ten dollars a ton. Potato prices would fluctuate due to marketing, and the grading variations. Low grade potatoes were used for cattle feed (#3 potatoes).


Prior to the First World War, around 1910, a dairy herd was established. All the milking was done by hand. It was a slow process and large crews were necessary. The early milking machines were crude and difficult to use. Cows were not used to them and found them uncomfortable. Many farmers who had purchased those early machines went back to milking by hand. In time the machines were perfected and it wasn't long before hand milking became a thing of the past. Previously, it took 12 men to milk 75 cows, but with these new milking machines, two men could milk 75 cows alone. In the earlier days the milk was separated and the cream used to make butter for resale. Most of the skim milk was for the family's own use and was usually fed to the chickens and pigs. When they first began to sell the milk in large quantities the prices they received was as low as 75 cents for a hundred pound can. The milking crew certainly wasn't overpaid; they received $25 per month, or $30 for a married man who would not require board.


The Bose farm became very well known for the quality of their pure bread Holstein herd. It was considered the top pure bread Holstein herd in the District. The herd had grown from an original 6 to 40 by 1938. In 1939, with improved milking stations, the herd was increased to 51 milking cows. By 1962 the herd was increased to 75 milking cows with about 50 heifers and calves. The herd was sold in 1969.


How the Bose Farm got the name Meadowridge?

The original dairy barn was up on the top of the hill. As it had outgrown its useful life, a new barn was constructed. Site preparations were undertaken, and the first phase of the barn was constructed in 1936. This original section was built as a potato house on the ground level, and drive in machinery storage above. The builder of this first phase was Dan McGowan, a local building contractor. When we could no longer continue a successful dairy operation in the old barn, a further addition for accommodating the milk cows, calves, and young stock was constructed at this new site on the side of the hill. The excavation was done with the work of a "Fresno". A "Fresno" is a type of excavator that could be pulled by horses, or a tractor. It has handles on the rear, much like a wheelbarrow. The operator gauges the amount of earth to be loaded, by raising, or lowering the handles. This part was built in the spring and summer of 1939. All the cedar shakes for the original potato house / machinery storage, as well as the calf barn, were hand split from cedar snags drawn out of the bush on the property. The dairy barn was roofed with cedar shingles, which were purchased from a mill. Most of those original hand split shakes are still in use on that roof today. When the construction of the new dairy barn was completed the contractors, Nels Oland & Sons, were asked to return, and construct shutter to cover all the windows in the barn. Nels Oland & Sons had built most of the modern barns in the Fraser Valley for many years around that time.
Meadowridge Barn Meadowridge Barn
Meadowridge Barn Meadowridge Barn
We continued to operate a successful herd of "Grade" (not purebred) Holsteins up until about 1944. At this time, a good number of the cows were sold off, and we began our concentrated efforts on developing a herd of purebred Holstein cattle. As we were in the beginning stages of registering our purebred herd with the Holstein Friesen Association, we chose the name Meadowcrest. We employed a local painter, Mr. John Holms, to paint the name "Meadowcrest" on the end of the barn. When the application for registration as a farm name arrived in the office of the Holstein Friesen Association, the name "Meadowcrest" was rejected, as they had already registered that name for a farm in Nova Scotia. The name "Meadowridge" was approved by the Holstein Association, and we employed Mr. Holmes to come back and paint the part of the name "Ridge" over the old name "Crest". Over the intervening years, as the paint faded, there is evidence of the old original name with "Crest", showing through. In actual fact, this can be seen better through the eyes of a camera, than with the human eye.
As the dairy herd expanded, the milking barn became too small for the housing of all the cattle. In 1950, another larger addition was added to the rear of the existing stanchion type dairy barn, where the cows were tied into their stalls 24 hours a day during the winter months. This new "loafing" barn allowed the cows free access to feed and water, where they were able to wander about, and lay down in comfort. Cows were then brought in shifts so that we could milk in excess of 75 cows in a stanchion barn that held 51 stalls.
The loafing barn was cleaned out about twice a year, when we were able to get the manure spreaders on the fields. It was all taken out with a front end loader on the tractor. We just topped up the bedding with three loads of shavings a week. The cows were only tied up for about an hour twice a day for milking. Roger, January 2009

Henry Bose took an active part in Municipal and Community affairs. He served as a Councillor on Surrey Council for Ward 1 in 1904, and was Reeve of the Municipality from 1905 to 1909. In 1911 he was appointed Police Magistrate and held that position until 1946, 35 years. In 1900 he was appointed the Secretary Treasurer of the Lower Fraser Valley Agricultural Association. He was a charter member of the Surrey Farmers' Institute which he served on for over fifty years. He helped establish the Surrey Co-operative Association in 1920 and was a Director and its President for 25 years. In 1908 he was appointed Secretary of the Union of BC Municipalities and held that position for 10 years. Henry was one of the 1892 founding members of the Cloverdale Odd Fellows Lodge. He also stored and sold explosives for the Government. In addition, for 23 years Henry was secretary-treasurer of the Langley, Surrey, and Delta Pioneer Association.


With all of this outside involvements, Henry could not devote as much time to the farm as he might wish. As a result Harry's two sons, Henry (Harry) and Norman, began to take an active part in the operation of the farm around 1920. In 1920, Harry, the eldest of the two sons, brought 67 acres from the Serpentine River, east and on the south side of Bose Road. Around World War II Harry and Norman acquired thirty acres from a woman named Goldberg. This was north of the Bose Road, at the end of Pike Road. In total the Bose Family Farm comprised 330 acres.


Harry was married in 1926 to Freda May Hayton. She came from a farming family as her father had been farming 650 acres on the Matsqui Prairie. The Hayton Family still farms in the Abbotsford area. They raised four children; Norma, Doug, and twins Robert and Roger. Norman was married in the 1930s to Mildred Holoway. They raised five children; Audrey, Reginald, Marilyn, Bruce and Ken.

Bose Family Tree

The Boses' built the first part of the new barn halfway down the hill in 1936. Potatoes were stored on the bottom and equipment on the top section. The second part of the barn was built in 1938. It included the milk barn section. In 1950 a loafing barn was built on to the milk barn and the heard was increased to 75 milk cows. All together they had 150 head of cattle. In 1956 they bought a little one bedroom house and used it as a barn office and the Federal Register of Performance, ROP, inspector slept there one in a while when he come to test the herd. In 1966 a pole barn was built at the top of the hill. At the front, equipment was stored, and running down the back of the barn were feeders used to feed cows from the field behind the barn. This replaced the original old Red Barn Henry built on the Serpentine. In 1965, it has been burned down by an arsonist.

1967 aerial view of the farm

This aerial shot of the Bose Farm homestead was taken in 1967.

Dairy farming Storage shed

The Bose Family was in the dairy business for over 60 years. They had one of the best Holstein Dairy herds in the Fraser Valley. The building pictured was a threshing machine shed and behind it a calf barn. The threshing machine was stored in the center part, while wagons were stored in the two side lean to sections. These sections later became drive through truck sheds.


For three or four years, before World War II, sugar beets were grown on the farm. These were sent to Bellingham, Washington by rail car to be used to produce sugar. The farm also grew mangles, a turnip like crop that was used to feed the cows. The mangles were put through a chopper, along with potatoes, to make the feed more easily handled by the cows.


During World War II, it was very difficult to obtain farm labourers. Most of the able bodied men had been sent overseas. Those who were left were not adequate to carry on the job of farming; just at the time when it was very important that farms be in full production. During World War I wages had been high, sometimes as much as 40 cents per hour. Wages were even higher during the Second World War, for even less adequate work. Later in the post war period, with the coming of mechanization, only two or three men were needed for the year round work.


Henry John Bose died on January 20th, 1951 at the age of 83. Harry Bose died on October 22nd, 1991. Freda May Bose passed away seven years later on October 28th, 1998. However, life went on much as before and the family worked hard at running the farm. Over the years many of the family members; sons, grandsons, worked the farm and continue to operate it.

Henry Bose's home

This is the Bose Family home in the 2000s. It had only had minor changes from the home Henry Bose built at the turn of the century. It remains a Surrey Heritage home.  It was later restored as part of the development project now on the property and has become a private home once again.  It is still protected under the Heritage Revitalization Project.


From 1947 to 1967, the Bose Family had a bulldozer company and from 1946 to 1957, Harry was a part owner of Surrey Excavating which is now H.B. Contracting. In 1969, Harry and Norman split the farm between them and the Holstein Dairy herd was sold. Both brothers continued to operate independent farms with hay and oats being the major crops. Harry also ran a few head of cattle by buying calves, fattening them, and selling them. He also raised heifers for resale.

1969 farm division

In 1969, the family farm was divided between the two sons, Harry and Norman. Additional property was acquired for Doug Bose. The farms remain in the hands of the Bose Family and are successful operations to this day.


The Bose Family Farm continues to operate as two farms owned by the Bose Family members. Hay, straw, grains, certified seed grains (sold to Buckerfields), and cattle corn are the dominant field crops. Heifers continue to be raised for resale.  A corn maze each Autumn has become an annual event as well.

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