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The Newton Family of Newton, Surrey, BC

Elias John Newton received a Crown Land Grant in Surrey in 1890. The family name is now associated with a town centre, a wave pool, a seniors' centre, a skating rink, a public library, an elementary school and an athletic park.

Elias John Newton was born ca. 1844 in Nepean Township to William and Matilda Newton. Of French Canadian origin, his original surname was probably Villeneuve/neuf (New Town in French) but it appears he had already changed it to Newton while living in Eastern Canada. On June 29, 1866, he married Sarah Anne Greene, 17 of Huntley Township in Carp, Ontario. Five years later he appears in Pembroke Village, North Renfrew County, Ontario in the 1871 Federal Census. Four other Newtons are listed with him including two daughters: Sarah Ann Newton age 2, and Elizabeth M. Newton age 1 month, along with Telesphore Newton 13, and Mary Newton 12 (the latter two possibly his siblings). Sarah Ann Newton is also listed in the Drouin Collection (the largest database of French-Canadian records) as the legitimate daughter of Elias Newton and Sarah Anna Greene, baptized at the Basilique Notre Dame, Ottawa on August 10 ca. 1870, being born in June of the previous year. Sarah A. Newton, nee Greene appears to have died in childbirth, as she is listed in Schedule Two of the Census, which lists deaths that had occurred with the past twelve months. She is buried at the Holy Trinity Cemetery in Pembroke, where the upright tombstone reads: "Sarah Ann beloved wife of J. Newton".

It remains a mystery what happened to the remaining children and possible siblings of E.J. Newton. He reappears ten years later in the 1881 Census, however, this time in Western Canada in Yale, BC, listed as John Elias, along with a certain Isidore Montrose age 20, and Ella Nora Montrose age 2. He is also listed in the BC Directory of 1882–83 as a saddler living on Front Street in Yale. It is probable that he worked for the local Douglas and Deighton Harness and Saddlery business, also located on Front Street. Newton appears to have arrived in the Surrey area in 1884–85 as he is listed as a farmer in Brownsville in the BC Directory under those dates. This coincides with the moving of the Douglas and Deighton Company to New Westminster during this time.

BC Directory Record

Newton's Land Grant Newton's Pre–emption

Documents courtesy of Surrey Archives

Newton's 1890 land title

Document courtesy of Surrey Archives

In 1890 Newton received a Crown Land Grant, totalling 160 acres of the land encompassing the area between 72 and 76 Avenues and 124 and 128 Streets. This includes the land where the Surrey Mosque stands today and all of Newton Athletic Park. However, the name Newton Road (72 Ave) had already been in usage since at least 1897, when it appeared on a list of public works in the Columbian Newspaper, as Newton had settled the land much earlier.

Newton and Meyer advertisement

Elias John Newton worked for Douglas & Deighton before starting his own saddler and harness business with a certain Frederick H. Meyer(s), who had also previously lived Yale, around 1890.

Document courtesy of Surrey Archives

Newton Bankruptcy advertisement Advertisement of Stock removal

Documents courtesy of Surrey Archives

However, it seems that shortly afterward, by 1892, Newton was in business alone and by 1895 had bought out the bankrupt stock of the late business of Benjamin Douglas. Unfortunately, Newton's fortunes would take a turn for the worst as a result of the Great New Westminster Fire of 1898. The majority of his uninsured stock and trade which he would later value at $5000 in his application for relief was destroyed.

Relief Application

Document courtesy of Surrey Archives

Newton had several children with Mary Isidore (Isudore), who took on his name (no information as to whether they were married) including the eldest, Eleanor M. born ca. 1880 (although it is unclear in the 1881 census whether she is Newton's child, she is declared as such in later records). One son, who would have been born ca. 1885 is only listed on Newton's application for relief following the Great Fire and does not appear in later censuses records. Charles Joseph A Newton was born in 1892, Elias James A in 1894, Susanna Cecena Ivy in 1895, Josephine Alice S in 1897, and finally William Henry in 1899, all in New Westminster.

Although Newton restored his business following the fire, around 1904 he moved to Vancouver and settled at 56 Lansdowne Street where he died three years later on August 1, 1907. His obituary in the British Columbian described Newton as a member of the Harness makers' Union and the French Canadian Society, who had taken active part in both the New Westminster and Vancouver Conservative Associations.

The British Columbian, Saturday Aug. 3, 1907 E.J. Newton, for many years the proprietor of a harness making store in New Westminster and a worker in the ranks of the Conservative party in this city, died at the family residence at 56 Lansdowne Street, Vancouver yesterday. He was a member of the Harness Makers' Union and was also a member of the French Canadian Society.
Mr. Newton came to this country before the construction of the Canadian Pacific and took up his residence at Yale where he worked at his trade during the construction of the railway. He afterward came to this city and started up a store on Front Street in partnership with the late Benjamin Douglas. Soon after that he bought out the Douglas interest and carried on business until the fire of 1898 when his store and stock were burnt. He lost everything and had no insurance on either store or stock. After the fire he started up again but removed to Vancouver about three years ago where he has been living ever since.
The deceased took an active part in the work of the New Westminster Conservative Association while in this city and after his removal to Vancouver affiliated himself with the Vancouver association. He worked hard during the campaigns and assisted in the election of Premier McBride. The funeral will take place next Tuesday from the family residence to the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and from that point to the cemetery. Rev. Father Welch will conduct the services.

Elias John Newton is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, with no tombstone to mark his grave.

Newton's mortgage

In 1908 the Newton Land in Surrey, with a total mortgage debt of $5530.93 was foreclosed.

Document courtesy of Surrey Archives

By 1909 Newton's widow and children left for the United States and settled in King County, in Seattle.

The 1910 US Census

Document courtesy of Surrey Archives


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