This page began as an email to Jack Brown and the Surreyhistory.ca web site from Debbie Maloway inquiring about historic wells in the uplands east of Cloverdale. This is Roger Bose's response to Debbie's inquiry.
Before Vancouver water was piped into Surrey, the community relied on many dug wells, as well as artesian wells.
Much of the property in and around Cloverdale consisted of large parcels of land, some of which were subdivided into 5 acre and 2 ½ acre lots. Many of those properties, though they were not full–fledged farms, did however raise poultry, pigs, and possibly milked one or two cows. Water was very important, and many wells were dug by hand, some without much success. Up until post world war two, living conditions were sometimes tough, and a dug well, though labor intensive, was a lot cheaper than having an artesian well drilled. Some small farms had more than one well on their property Artesian wells were few and costly to put in, and thus few and far between in what is now Cloverdale.
This is by no means a complete listing of the artesian wells in the general area. A good producing artesian well was on the former Milton property on New McLellan road, across from Surrey (later Lord Tweedsmuir) High School (presently Cloverdale Traditional School). This property was later owned by the Ziola family. Most dug wells would dry up in the early summer, and remained dry through September and October when the rains would return. The Ziola's supplemented their small farm income by selling water, and delivering it by tank truck. When the Surrey Co–OP built an expanded feed mill in 1948, they had difficulty in obtaining fire insurance, as there was no guaranteed supply of water in the area. The C0–OP built a water tower, which was required to be higher than the new mill. They drilled an artesian well on their property, and immediately, the adjacent wells experienced a drop in flow. The CO–OP had to cap their well, in order to return some flow to other adjacent land owners. With this water tower in place, they were able to get lower insurance rates. As there was still no Vancouver water supply, the Cloverdale Fire Dept. made use of this source of water on more than one occasion.
As many of the dug wells dried up during the dry season, water was brought in by tanker trucks to top them off. Several local truckers regularly hauled gravel from local pits, and they would supplement their income by trucking water in the dry season. Much of this water came from a good producing artesian well behind the Clayton general store at 184th Street and the Fraser Highway. The influx of new homes on the hilltop east of Cloverdale saw local residents scrambling for a supply of water. An artesian well was drilled on the property of Alan and Doris Davidson. This high producing well is in existence today at 18103 58 Ave. This well, of exceptional quality water, was drilled to a depth of 130 Ft., and supplied water to 32 homes. This local supply was known as the Hilltop Water Co. The minute books of this company have been turned over to the Surrey Archives.
The Bose family, on Bose Road (64th Ave.), supplied water to their extensive dairy farm and chicken barns as well as family homes. They also supplied water to a dozen residents at Surrey Centre. These homes were on Coast Meridian Road, one half mile from the well. They also served three residents on the north side of Bose Road.
Further south, the Kensington Prairie farmers utilized a spring on the hillside south of 32nd Ave. This local initiative utilized wood stave pipe. The following information comes from Nelson Drozdowich, a long time Cloverdale resident, and employee of the Surrey CO–OP.
When we moved to Pacific Highway in 1945 we had a small layer hen farm, a milk cow and two horses. We had two dug too wells; one for the house and one for the Chicken fenced field run. In the summer sometimes we had to buy water from the Ziola's who had an artesian well across from Lord Tweedsmuir School.
When the CO–OP drilled their well they almost drained Ziola's so they had to cap the pressure to give back water to other wells.
When I moved to coast meridian (168 St) in 1948 there was a Kensington water co–op water system fed by very large springs on the hill south of 32 Ave. (Brown Rd). The overflow fed Kensington Creek also known as the Logging Ditch. It was so named because it was dug wider by Japanese laborers to make it possible to float logs to the Nickomekl river. There was another spring fed creek on Mud Bay Road west of 168 St. where Bud Kerry had a saw mill. (See Keery Family) His father, Bob father of Marilyn Buchannan (Kerry), was manager of Kensington water Co–op and turned the job over to me in 1949 and I ran it until 1961.
The wood ripe was starting to rot and had a lot of leaks. I went to water well and plumbing Co. in New Westminster, it could have been Mac and Mac. There was a man working there that was very familiar with wood stave pipe lines and we had a long conversation. He said if you buy all the material from us, we will supply all the planning free. Bring in a piece of your 4 inch pipe next week I did and low and behold their three inch Polly pipe would fit inside. Now I had to convince these old farmers the plastic would not kill their cows. Bob Kerry was on side right away. We bought the pipe in 200 foot rolls. I hauled them out on my pickup truck with large red flags on each side and never got pulled over by the police. I had a young fellow working for me and we would stretch the pipe out in the heat of the day. My dad made a bullet shaped plug to put in the end of the plastic pipe and we would start right after breakfast when it was cool. We had large pipe from the dam to 32nd Ave or Brown Road so we had to have a reducer to three inches which the pipe Company made for us. We would shut off the water, break into the pipe line at 200 foot intervals and push 200 feet of plastic downhill with about six or eight men. If we ran into a root growing in the pipe line like twenty feet of weeping willow we had to measure to the spot, break the line clean it out and continue. It sure saved digging up the line; the old guys thought I was a genius. I just followed my Dad's advice. If you don't know something finds someone who does.
Thanks for inquiring Debbie. I hope this will flush out more information.