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The Parr Family of Cloverdale

The Parr Family History narrative was compiled for Jack Brown's "Surrey History" by: Donna–Marie Parr Johnson, Vincent Parr and Vicky Parr.

From England to America

When Edward and Mary Parr arrived in Surrey in 1883 with their two youngest children, they were ready for a fresh start and were full of high hopes for a better economic future. Like many settlers in the area, their journey to the Canadian West Coast was circuitous.

Edward was born in Redmile, Leicestershire County, England, in 1831. He had dreams of becoming a Queen's Life Guard, but fell short of the six–foot height requirement. For a time, he worked as a gardener for the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle. When he was not quite 17, he married twenty–year–old Mary Flowers of Marston, Lincolnshire.

Shortly after their marriage, the young couple emigrated from England, arriving in Louisiana in November, 1849. They immediately made their way to Shullsburg, Wisconsin, an area known for lead and zinc mining.

In 1860, after ten years in Wisconsin, Edward and Mary and their five children moved to Grass Valley, California, where Edward obtained work as a quartz miner. A major gold strike had occurred in Grass Valley in the fall of 1850. Three of their children died in Grass Valley and four more children were born. The two youngest children were Frances Ann (born 1867) and Henry Vincent (born 1871).

During their time in California, Edward and Mary were able to purchase some land and accumulate some savings, but by 1878, Grass Valley mine productivity had declined precipitously. It was time to move on.

Edward Parr
Edward Parr, c. 1907.

Moving on to the Dominion of Canada

The impetus for the family's move to Surrey and the exact timing are uncertain. In Along the Way, Richard Fallowfield (son of Frances Ann Parr and Robert Fallowfield) is reported as saying that Edward first came to British Columbia in the early 1860s during the Cariboo Gold Rush. Richard also said that Edward staked several claims, then returned to California to bring his family to Canada, settling them in a rented house in Clover Valley (which later became Cloverdale).

When Edward returned to his claims, the best ones had been jumped by a Canadian; however, he felt that, as an American citizen, he had no recourse. (Edward had become an American citizen while living in Wisconsin.) Richard Fallowfield's account also stated that Edward stayed on in the Cariboo working on roads before returning to Cloverdale, where he filed for a half section of Dominion of Canada land. Source: Along the Way by Margaret Lang Hastings, 1981, p. 127

It is not certain that this account is completely factual. Grandson Harry Parr's version of events is that Edward was attracted to British Columbia by a newspaper ad which offered property parcels of 160 acres for $1 per acre. The use of newspaper ads is mentioned in The Surrey Story where author G. Fern Treleaven states that in 1884, Henry Thrift (who was serving as Clerk, Collector and Assessor for Surrey municipality) persuaded Council to publish information about Surrey and the availability of good land in various British Columbia papers. She writes: Edward Parr was the first to respond. Source: Surrey Story, G. Fern Treleaven, Surrey Historical Society, 1992, p. 33 However, in the same book, the date of the Parr family's arrival is given as 1882, two years before the ads were supposed to have appeared. [ibid., p. 49]

In his account of Surrey history, Henry Thrift also mentions the Council advertising activity, and his role in initiating it, and says that Mr. E. Parr was the first permanent settler on Kensington Prairie. [Reminiscences of Events of an Historical Character Occurring in the Experience of Henry T. Thrift of White Rock, B. C., Canada, Henry T. Thrift, Jr., July 3, 1931]

Henry Parr told his son, Harry, that when his father, mother, sister and he reached the end of the trail on their journey to Surrey, they knocked on the door of the house located there to inquire about the location of their new land. The owners of the house were the Mr. and Mrs. George Boothroyd, and their family put the Parrs up for the night in their Surrey Centre home.

Homesteading on Kensington Prairie

The following day, the property was located on Kensington Prairie at the northeast corner of the Mud Bay Road and the Coast Meridian (40 Avenue and 168 Street), near the Nicomekl River, and some time later, the Mud Bay farm house was built from cedar logs. The logs said Harry Parr, were beautifully split by Pa, although he was only 11 or 12 years old. Some years later, in 1887, Edward donated a corner of this land so that Kensington Prairie School could be built.
(See Schools to 1900)

Edward soon made himself known to members of Council. On August 16, 1883, accompanied by Mr. Senalley, he addressed Council, at some length, and asked for $200 to be spent that season on road-building in Kensington Prairie. Council was not opposed, but adroitly deferred a decision until the following meeting.

By the time of the September 6 meeting, Council had received a letter from Edward, which was put aside and ordered filed. It seems that, at that time, Council simply had too many other road and bridge projects to be able to fund this one as well. A motion to put $300 towards improvements to the Coast Meridian to make it a passable Road was defeated. However, a follow–up motion was approved. This allocated $150 to road improvements south of the Nicomekl, with the proviso that the New Settlers located on the Kensington Prairie do work to the value of like amount on said road and become bonafide settlers. [Source: Surrey municipal council minutes for September 6, 1883] (See Coast Meridian Road)

Then at its December 15 meeting, Council seemed to have a change of heart and passed another motion, acknowledging that the settlers who have located on the Kensington Prairie have no possible way of getting their Horses, cattle or stock into said Kensington prairie and request[ed] the Govt. (through the District Members) to have the Coast Meridian line opened through, at least far enough to give said settlers a means of getting in and out, and that may be commenced at the earliest possible date.
[Source: Surrey municipal council minutes for December 15, 1883]

In November 1887, Edward was elected to the School Board, re-elected in June 1885 and resigned in May 1887, just prior to the completion of his two–year term.

Meanwhile, the Parr children, Henry and Frances, attended classes in the schoolhouse at the foot of the Old McLellan Road across from the fairgrounds in Cloverdale, where the teacher was Robie Reid.

In 1887, Frances Ann married Robert Fallowfield and they made their home at Robert’s property on Mud Bay Road. Henry was a good student, and in November 1889, he inquired about the timing of the entrance exam for high school (which would have entailed traveling to New Westminster), but for some reason, he did not continue with his schooling. Instead, he worked the farm. Later, his ambitions turned elsewhere.

Edward as Councilor, Ward 4

In 1890, Edward was elected to council, serving Ward 4 under Reeve James Punch. One of the most contentious issues Council worked on at that time was dyking. Minutes of meetings in 1889 record the fact that a contract was awarded, but the assessments to fund the work were being appealed. Nonetheless, the bylaw was passed, and work was carried out, after which one of the dams was found to be ineffective. This necessitated further work with more cost and additional assessments.

By this time, there was a change in players – Reeve Punch had gone on to the provincial legislature and municipal elections were held, then the replacement Reeve resigned. ( Edward's term was not up, so he continued to serve.)

In 1891, after the failure of the Serpentine Dam, the municipality proceeded with a lawsuit against the contractor and a new estimate for repairs was developed to cover widening and deepening of the river to reduce the speed of the currents, which were causing the damage. Council asked the affected landowners to post bonds before proceeding with the work, which they refused to do; the atmosphere amongst ratepayers was heating up.

In 1892, Council considered a motion to get the provincial legislature to make the Surrey Dyking Act enforceable and to clear the way for them to raise funds through debentures without prior ratepayer approval. During the discussion at Council, Edward Parr demanded a division (a process of separating the members of a legislative body into groups in order to count their votes) and insisted that the vote be recorded. The Reeve and one councilor voted in favour of the motion; Edward and one other councilor voted against and one councilor abstained. Edward's stake in the ground failed.

But the battle was not over. At the next month's meeting, one of the councilors spoke against the Reeve (Henry Thrift) and was supported by Edward. The council minutes state: a very warm discussion ensued, between Councilors Parr, Bamford, McDonald and the Reeve. Edward then moved that the Reeve should resign, which he did. When Henry Thrift left the meeting hall, Edward was elected chairman and the remaining councilors decided that an election to replace the Reeve should be held as soon as possible. Edward left politics at the end of his term in 1892, perhaps disillusioned by the experience.

Henry Marries Ethel Smith in Minnesota

In the same year, 1892, when he was 21, Henry traveled to Sauk Centre, Minnesota, where he worked in his brother's grocery store, gaining experience which he would later put to use when he opened his own business. While he was in Sauk Centre, he met Ethel Victoria Smith, who was studying to become a school teacher. He wrote to her after their meeting in 1894, asking permission for him to write to her.

Henry subsequently returned to Cloverdale, and a long correspondence followed, culminating in a marriage proposal by letter in 1896 while Ethel was still at teacher's college. By this time, Henry had gone to Bodie, California, in the Sierra Mountains, to try his luck at gold mining, where his older brother was the manager of the mine.

Henry also wrote to Ethel's widowed mother, Emmagene Smith, requesting permission to marry her daughter, and while she expressed reservations about Henry's peripatetic ways, she indicated she would not stand in the way. Perhaps as a way of demonstrating his intent to settle down, Henry took over the operation of half of the Mud Bay farm. In any case, the wild and lawless environment in Bodie was definitely not to his liking. In September, 1897, his mother died; his father became more dependent on his youngest son. In 1899, Henry went back to Minnesota and in June, he and Ethel were married. They returned to Kensington Prairie and lived with Edward in the Mud Bay farmhouse. In April, 1900, Mildred Inez, Ethel's and Henry's first child, was born there.

Ethel and Henry Parr
Ethel Smith and Henry Parr, c. 1899

H. V. Parr General Merchandise

In about 1903, Henry apparently decided to quit the farm, foreseeing better opportunities as a merchant and the chance to create a more comfortable life for his young family.

He first opened a butcher shop in Cloverdale and operated it for a year before selling it to Messrs. White and Whiteley.

In 1904, after selling the butcher shop, Henry opened a general store at the southwest corner of the Pacific Highway and Melrose Street in Cloverdale (now 5699 176 Street). A walkway was constructed between the store and the adjacent butcher shop to make it easier for customers to get from one store to the other.

Henry's decision to open the store was an audacious move, as the town and surrounding area was already served by the Red and White Store, operated by A. J. Burrows, but the business flourished. The community was growing and able to support both enterprises. Henry also bought a nearby warehouse in order to handle feed sales. The first two employees were a Mr. Rice and Percy Phillips. Ken Robinson was also hired to delivery groceries using the horse and buggy.

H. V. Parr General Store

The H. V. Parr General Store on the Pacific Highway (176 Street) in Cloverdale. Part of the White and Whiteley Butcher Shop can be seen to the left. Left to right: Edward Parr, either Mr. White or Mr. Whiteley in his butcher's uniform, Percy Phillips, Harry Parr, Henry Parr. (c. 1907)

H. V. Parr General Store

The H. V. Parr General Store on the Pacific Highway (176 Street) in Cloverdale. The White and Whiteley Butcher Shop is to the left. Edward Parr is standing at the rear between the two buildings and Henry Parr is at the extreme right. Sam Shannon is to his left. The gentleman in front of the door is unidentified. Ken Robinson is driving the horse-drawn delivery wagon. (c. 1907)

Store interior 1915

The interior of the store in 1915. The shelves are well-stocked with canned goods on the left. The display case on the right contains a stack of straw boater hats, with clothing and other dry goods on the shelves behind. There are boxes of fresh produce on the floor, including peas in the shell and apples, and several shovels are hung up on the wall at the back. Coal lamps hang from the ceiling. Henry Parr is behind the counter on the left. A customer, Mr. Arnison and Percy Phillips who worked in the store are to his right, along with Harry Parr, who was then about eight years old.

First Parr Home in Cloverdale

At some point, Henry and Ethel either bought or built a house in Cloverdale. Whether this was coincident with the opening of the butcher shop or the general store, or later, is unknown. Henry's and Ethel's second child, Muriel Flowers, was born in December, 1903, in this house. Martha and Abe Currie (parents of Lyall and Hugh) lived in this house, as boarders of Henry and Ethel when they first settled in the area in about 1903, and continued to live there until their own home on Shannon Hill was built.

Martha and Ethel became close friends. In 1905, when Ethel's and Henry's second daughter, Muriel, was stricken with scarlet fever. Martha, a generous and loyal friend, took fiv–year–old Mildred into the Currie's upstairs quarters to isolate her from the infection. Muriel was unable to fight off the illness, however. She died at the age of eleven months and was interred next to her paternal grandmother at Surrey Centre Cemetery.

Less than two years later, in 1907, Henry's and Ethel's son, Harry Laverne, was born in this same house. It was a large house, originally lit with oil lamps.

First Parr family home in Cloverdale

The first Parr family home in Cloverdale, c. 1907, located on Melrose (57 Avenue) at King Street (176 A Street). Left to right: Edward Parr, Mildred, Harry (Henry's and Ethel's children), Henry Parr, Ethel Parr. The house was pulled down in the 1950s, having served as a boarding house for many years. Initially, it was operated by Mrs. H. MacDonald, and latterly, by Mrs. Pearl Nielsen.

The store evidently prospered, and in about 1912, Henry bought a Ford touring car with a brass radiator and brass headlamps, possibly the first such car in Cloverdale. The capacious vehicle was a boon for making deliveries from the store.

A New House in Cloverdale

Following their return from a trip to California to visit relatives, the Henry Parr family moved into a new home in Cloverdale, where Edward died in November, 1912.

Company was frequent and Ethel’s relatives from Yakima visited annually. The house was on slightly boggy land (like much of the Cloverdale lowlands) and when the railway cars were shunted in front, the windows rattled. When relatives came to stay, they awoke with a start, certain that there was an earthquake.

Parr Home c1913

The Bank of Montreal building (extreme left) was later converted into the Parr family home as shown in the photo below. (c. 1910)

Parr home

The Parr house at the corner of the No. 10 and Pacific Highways (previously the Bank of Montreal and subsequently a restaurant), following its conversion into a large, four–bedroom home. It was moved back on the lot (the railway tracks originally ran just outside the front door as shown in the photo above) and a basement was added.

Henry and Ethel's home

Front view of the house, which was later moved to King Street (176A Street)behind the Overwaitea store, where it was occupied by the Barker family. It was later moved again and has probably since been demolished.

The Hazelmere and Aldergrove Stores

As Henry Parr's business grew, a second smaller store was opened in Hazlemere at the corner of the North Bluff and Halls Prairie roads (16 Avenue and 184 Street). This store was run by Minor Smith, Ethel's elder brother, from about 1914 until early 1916. A third store was opened in Aldergrove, and operated by Byron Smith, Ethel's younger brother.

Hazelmere General Store
The general store at Hazelmere, c. 1914.

When the Parrs decided on an extended stay in Long Beach, California, in 1913, Henry closed the Aldergrove store and Minor Smith took over the operation of the Cloverdale general store, in addition to managing the Hazelmere location. While in Long Beach, Henry operated a real estate business, along with Edward Carncross, who was also from Cloverdale. (See Hugh and McKinnon) Subsequent to the sales of the Hazlemere and Aldergrove stores, Henry took on the Ford and Studebaker automobile agency in Chilliwack.

Henry's Property and Business Interests

Cloverdale was a highway junction and a center of development in the Fraser Valley when the BC Electric Railway officially opened in 1910. In anticipation of future growth, in 1911, Henry purchased a five–acre plot in Cloverdale, bounded by King (176A Street), Maine (177B Street), Melrose (57 Avenue) and Hawthorne (57A Avenue). The economic depression, which hit with a vengeance in the 1930s, transformed this investment into a white elephant. Henry and Ethel constructed at least one house on this property on 57A Avenue and while it is now referred to as "the Henry Parr house", the Parr family never lived there

However, in the near term, as Henry surmised, his business did well as the railway construction proceeded. A photograph of the store, taken around 1918–20, shows that several modifications were made to the storefront: a suspended canopy was added, the windows converted to full-panes of glass, and new signage added. The sidewalk had also been improved and the boardwalk had been replaced with concrete.

H. V. Parr General Store in Cloverdale

The H. V. Parr General Store in Cloverdale, c. 1918–20.
Left: Percy Phillips; right: Henry Parr.

The store could be seen from the porch of the family home and one night, Henry awoke and spotted a light in the store. Anticipating trouble, he grabbed his shotgun. In fact, it was the light of a fuse lit by a burglar who was in the process of blowing open the safe. Henry pumped a few rounds into the air, scaring off the thief, but not before the safe door was blown off its hinges into the ceiling where it left a permanent dent.

In 1928, Henry sold the Cloverdale general store to Messrs. Armstrong and White. Henry then had a new building erected on the lot between the B.C. Telephone office and Augustsen's ice cream parlor. The building had space for two offices. In one of them, Henry operated a small real estate and insurance office as an agent of R.P.Clark Ltd. of Vancouver. The office remained open until Henry's death on April 3, 1936.

The Summer House at White Rock

At some point (probably in the 1920s), Henry and Ethel bought a lot in White Rock overlooking Semiahmoo Bay. The lot cost $310. It was cleared and leftover lumber from the Aldergrove store was used to build a summer house. This building was just a shell, two-storeys with an open sleeping porch and with a garage underneath. The house still stands on Victoria Avenue, the original structure having been completely enclosed.

Service on Municipal Council

Like many men of his generation, Henry was an active community member. Along with Abe Currie and Charlie Hamre, Henry was a catalyst in the building of the Cloverdale Athletic Hall, and served as secretary–treasurer of the Surrey Amateur Athletic Association. He was also a member of the Board of Trade and the International Order of Odd Fellows Cloverdale Lodge No. 15. He was part of the group who drilled the first artesian well in Cloverdale near the corner of Bond Street (58A Avenue) and King Street (176A Street).

On November 7, 1928, a fire destroyed several Cloverdale businesses on the Pacific Highway, and threatened the entire business district. At that time, the municipality had no fire fighting equipment of its own; the hastily organized citizen bucket brigade barely made a dent. Calls to the Vancouver and New Westminster fire departments were not fruitful. Fortunately, the volunteer fire department from Blaine, Washington, responded immediately and used their chemical equipment to extinguish the blaze. It was a wake-up call, and ten days later, Reeve Reid reported to Council that a Committee had met and recommended that chemical equipment be acquired, with funding to be obtained through a voluntary collection from both businesses and homeowners.

Arthur Christmas spearheaded negotiations with the City of Vancouver and, together with Henry Parr, obtained a horse–drawn chemical wagon and a hose reel on an indefinite loan. The wagon was modified so that it could be pulled by a car or a truck. Mr. Christmas continued to move ahead, galvanizing the community to form a volunteer fire brigade. Charles Hamre was elected the first fire chief and Harry Parr was named Secretary–Treasurer of the Association. Many other young men willingly served as volunteer firemen. (See Surrey's Fire Service)

Henry ran for and was elected to the Surrey Municipal Council in 1929, having already served as school trustee in 1916 and 1917. He ran again and was elected in successive years: 1930, 1931, 1932, and 1933, by acclamation. His time on Council was apparently less controversial than that of his father's, although the effects of the Depression were a great worry and had to be managed. Council allocated funds to public works projects to deal with unemployment in 1930, adjusted rates for relief work in 1931, and reduced city staff wages in 1932 and in 1933. In 1934, they set aside land for parks; otherwise, Council business was routine. (See Surrey Council)

Ethel, meanwhile, also took an active part in the community. Along with Martha Currie, she became a founding member of a chapter of the King's Daughters (a Christian-based philanthropic organization) and remained a member for over 50 years. In 1924, Ethel's friends gathered round to present her and Henry with a silver flower basket in celebration of their twenty–fifth wedding anniversary, a mark of the community's affection and regard.

Henry and Ethel on their 25th wedding anniversary

Henry and Ethel on their 25th wedding anniversary, 1924. Among those present were Mrs. A. J. Burrows, Mrs. Clay, Mrs. Coates, Mrs. Creelman, Martha Currie, Mrs. Kerwood and her son, who presented the basket, Christine Matheson, Mrs. McIntyre, Emmagene Smith, and Mrs. Siddons.

Harry's Childhood Memories

Harry Parr said that he remembered getting a bicycle that he was to share with his sister, Mildred, but since Mildred was more interested in her friends, he latched on to it. He spent an entire day in front of the general store using the raised boardwalk to get on the bike, pedaling unsteadily forward, and falling off, and then began the process all over again. Through persistence, by the end of the day, he was able to ride down the street.

He relished the town's strawberry teas and sipping a blackberry cordial drink in summer, bobbing for apples at Halloween and eating caramel popcorn. On what is now the fairground property (at 176 Street and 60 Avenue), there were bleeding hearts, trilliums and dogtooth violets. The violets were gathered as posies for Mother's Day.

It was easy for Harry as a young boy to find things to do. He could catch frogs across the street from the General Store. He could explore along the mill ponds across from Flannigan's Mill.

Halloween, or other dark evenings, led to games of tic–tac. He and Leslie Heppell would creep up to a neighbour's window and stick a 60–grade tack into the sill. A long length of string was fastened to the tack and when the string was rubbed with rosin (a solid form of resin), it created a high–pitched scraping sound. When the door of the house shot open and the irritated residents came out to investigate, he and Les would dash away in the darkness.

He also remembered listening to early radio broadcasts. The man in charge of the BC Electric substation could receive a signal since he had a tall antenna pole at his house. He extended the transmission to the Municipal Hall landing, where people would gather to listen on a shared headset.

When he was about 11 or 12, Harry salvaged a tea crate from the General Store and found a set of wheels. He set about making a car, but fastened the wheels directly to the axle, making it impossible to steer.

Harry Parr in his soapbox car
Harry Parr in his version of a soapbox car, c. 1918–1919.

His father was never interested in fishing, but Harry and his friends often tried their luck in the Nicomekl River, using a bamboo pole, a line and a float. He said he would usually get so excited when he got a bite, he would pull the line back with a jerk. It would then would whip backwards and get caught in the trees. Cec Heppell knew the best fishing holes, he said, and could catch steelhead with ease.

Harry's first job (at the age of 14) was delivering groceries for his father's general store in the Model T Ford. While it was his father's wish that he should work in the store, life as a merchant didn't appeal to him. His interests lay in building and auto mechanics.

T. J. Trapp Technical School

In 1923, at the age of 16, Harry enrolled at T.J. Trapp Technical School ("Tech") in New Westminster and completed two years of their three–year program. He drove every day from Cloverdale in his Model T roadster, racing down the Peterson Hill on the King George Highway. At this point, he would spot the Kenora approaching the New Westminster Bridge, so he would use the hill to gain momentum and cross the bridge before the span opened, reaching class in the knick of time.

Mildred Parr Marries

In September, 1926, Mildred married Alexander Neucom McRae, also from Surrey. (Alec's father, Duncan McRae, established the Presbyterian church in Cloverdale.) Mildred and Alec subsequently made their home in Los Angeles, California. Alec died in 1959, and Mildred in 1978.

Harry Earns his Wings

Harry had dreamed of learning to fly when he was a boy and in school, he set his sights on getting into the air force. But a university degree was required for acceptance into the pilot training program, and in order to enter university, French was needed, and French was his nemesis. But his indulgent father agreed to go with him to Sea Island where Harry's first flight was from Seattle to Portland in a Fokker aircraft. He was smitten.

In 1928, at the age of 21, he went to Los Angeles to take flying lessons. He completed his pilot's training in California, and then went home to Cloverdale and briefly worked at Hamilton Hardware. The commercial flying industry was not established at that time, but his father, with great misgivings, said he was willing to put up the funds to buy an airplane. Two tragic accidents changed all that. Harry's flight instructor in Vancouver was killed. Then, Harry's cousin's boyfriend disappeared during a flight north on a search mission and was never found. His next move was to return to California to attend business school.

Harry Parr with the Eagle Rock aircraft

Harry Parr with the Eagle Rock aircraft he learned to fly in Los Angeles. It ran on a Curtis LX5 motor. Starting it was tricky. You had to balance on one leg and swing the prop, then move out of the way, quickly, when the engine caught. (1928)

Falling in Love

Meanwhile, in about 1925, he met 13–year–old Rose Staley. He was working in his father's grocery store, having left school. Rose had come to Cloverdale from her parent's home in Altario, Alberta, to care for her sister, Evelyn Milton, who was ill with Bright's disease. Rose's parent's, Rose and Charlie Staley, followed, and in about 1926, opened a bakery on Melrose Street (57 Avenue).

Rose and Charlie Staley

Rose and Charlie Staley with a basket of freshly–baked bread outside their bakery on Melrose Street in Cloverdale, c. 1927.

When Rose dropped out of school and went in to Vancouver to board with her aunt and uncle while attending a business course, Harry continued his courtship. In 1928, they became engaged and in 1931, they were married.

Rose Staley and Harry Parr
Rose Staley and Harry Parr, c. 1928.

Harry had been working as a mechanic for Ed Hamre at the Highway Garage on the Pacific Highway, but after his marriage, he found work as a checker at the CN Steamship docks in Vancouver. He and Rose rented a house at 15 Avenue and Cambie Street. He earned $30 per week, but the job didn't last. As the Depression worsened, the layoffs began. He was steadily bumped down the ladder, until he became the night watchman; then, there was no work at all.

The Clover Valley Farm

Harry and Rose returned to live with Henry and Ethel in Cloverdale, along with their infant daughter. Henry suggested his son try his hand at farming on the Clover Valley Road, north of the Yale Road (Fraser Highway). The property sloped gently upwards to the west and there was a small pond on it. He set about making improvements to the drainage. A huge cedar log buried on the property was turned into fence posts. The old barn was torn down and a new one built with the assistance of Hugh Charbonneau. Hugh could fearlessly climb the bare roof, a bundle of shingles under his arm and worked deftly, unsecured, as he laid the shingles along the steep hips of the roof, while Harry had to tie a rope around his waist and hold on for dear life.

Despite his fondness for the land and its pretty situation, Harry discovered he had no talent for farming. Cattle purchased from up the Fraser Valley turned out to be diseased. There was a deep ditch fronting the property and it wasn't unusual for cows to fall in, and rescue attempts were often futile. But despite the disasters, he and Rose built a home on King Street; a pretty California Spanish-style two-storey home clad in white stucco and with a red asphalt tile roof. The house was patterned after the homes so popular in southern California in the 1920s and was built by two of Cloverdale's best carpenters -- Pete Unger and Alex McCulloch.

Snow at the Parr Home Spring at the Parr Home

California Spanish architecture comes to Cloverdale! The home of Rose and Harry Parron King Street (176A Street).

Harry's Confectionary

In about 1933, Augustsen's ice cream parlour was being foreclosed, and since Harry didn't have the knack for farming, the idea of opening a lunch counter was hatched. His friend, Edgar McDonald, had spotted a place in Bellingham, and persuaded Harry to drive down to inspect it. Harry decided to replicate the same thing in Cloverdale, and he hired Pete Unger and Alex McCulloch to convert the building interior and to build booths, but as everything was done by hand, progress was slow and only one booth per day was completed. Arnold Michaelson was brought on board to do the painting.

Finally, they were open for business. The store opened at 8 a.m. and served breakfast, lunch and dinner. Celia Clark was the first person to work there. Harry did some of the cooking, and Rose baked and made pies. Coffee was five cents a cup, with the fourth cup free, but the most popular item was the ice cream, which was supplied in five–gallon cans by Westminster Ice Cream. The Sunday afternoon drive was a common form of family entertainment and people from as far away as New Westminster would stop at the store for an ice cream cone. Deliveries were unpredictable, but when the ice cream was restocked, word spread quickly. One waitress would take the orders and the money, and Harry and one other person would scoop the ice cream, assembly–line style, until they ran out.

Harry's Confectionary Harry's Confectionary

Harry's Confectionary on 176 Street during the war years (c 1939), and on the right with the family car and motor boat parked in front, ready for a quick post–work getaway to White Rock. (c 1949)

Minnie Kirk worked for them for two or three years until she married, followed by Jean Crutchley, then Vera Christmas, Evelyn Everall, Rene Thomas, Leona Ingram and Kay McGowan. Norma Kidd was their last hire. Harry's and Rose's eldest daughter often acted as cashier.

In 1936, Henry Parr died. Ethel was devastated. She found it hard to continue living in the community where she and Henry had raised their family, and where there were constant reminders of his absence. To fill the void, she moved into Vancouver and rented an apartment on Cornwall Avenue overlooking the Kitsilano pool and beach.

Meanwhile, the confectionary store struggled on, but it was a meager living, so despite his lack of aptitude for farming, Harry tackled it once again in order to bring in some extra income.

CP Woodworking

But happier times lay ahead. Hugh Charbonneau returned from his World War II service in the air force. Like Harry, Hugh was also interested in building and suggested that they form a partnership. In 1946, CP Woodworking was founded.

Ed Caterer, who worked at a maple furniture factory in New Westminster, approached them for employment. Since he and his wife, Hazel, lived in Port Kells, he wanted to be closer to home for his work. Ed became their first employee at 85 cents an hour, with Harry secretly worrying how are we going to be able to pay him? Ed was very knowledgeable about machinery and since Hugh had purchased several pieces of second-hand equipment, some of it home-made and not very good quality, Ed's skills were sorely needed. He had a knack for getting even the most temperamental pieces ticking over. Over the years, they were fortunate to have many excellent craftsmen come to work for them – among them Ed Caterer, Rocco and Joe Zappone, and Ian and Derek Forrester.

The firm eventually secured a number of contracts building store fixtures for the Super Valu supermarket chain. When Super Valu asked about the possibility of having adjustable shelving, standard in stores now, but an innovation at the time, Harry and Hugh researched the construction and brought special materials in from Chicago to build the fixtures; the first of their type in B.C. They also installed extruded aluminum edging to hold price tags – another first.

When the millwork business was slow, CP Woodworking built many family homes in the Cloverdale area.

Later, Harry and Hugh formed Kingsway Construction Ltd. with Chuck Jarrett as a third partner. They won the contract to construct the Community Centre in Cloverdale, after which Chuck left to pursue other interests. Bill Pekonen, who was CP Woodworking's talented bookkeeper, became the third partner. They secured the contract to build the first Surrey Museum and Archives building at 176 Street and 60 Avenue. Bill introduced job planning and scheduling techniques to the business, which were key to managing larger projects.

In the early 1950s, Harry and Hugh felt that Cloverdale would benefit from a small hardware store and opened CP Hardware. Abe Regher managed it for them.

Harry's and Hugh's partnership was a happy and successful one; their skills were complementary. Hugh was confident and outgoing and focused on building their client base. Harry preferred to stay closer to the shop floor and often worked alongside the crew when deadlines were tight.

Building the Thomas Road House with Local Craftsmen

Meanwhile, in the late 1940s, Harry and Rose bought five–acres at the corner of 182 Street (Thomas Road) and 60 Avenue (Old McLellan Road) from Lester Heppell to build a new family home. The house was designed by Tom Berwick of Berwick and Pratt, Architects. Willis Brock and Bill Friedan dug the foundation by hand as the caterpillar tractor couldn't move the soil. During slack times at CP Woodworking, the carpenters employed there worked on the house, but as the business became busier, this was impossible and they completed the concrete work only. When progress slowed to a snail's pace, Frank Brams was hired. As the structure went up, people began to refer to the low-profile, split–level home as the chicken coop. Harry had obtained some rock from the Fraser Canyon and stonemason Joe Surney incorporated it into a large fireplace in the living room and planters at the front of the house.

Parr's home on Thomas Road Parr's home on Thomas Road

Rose and Harry Parr's home on Thomas Road (182 Street at Old McLellan Road). The house later became the home of the George Scott family and then the Art Bucholtz family. It was recently pulled down to make way for a new development.

The family moved into the house in August 1951, although it was far from finished. Flooring wasn't installed until the following year. Christmas dinner for the extended family of 20 was served on a table made of sheets of plywood laid on sawhorses. Over the following months, hardwood floors were laid and wood paneling was installed extensively throughout the house; African mahogany and pine on the living room walls, birch in the hallways and in the dining room, maple in the kitchen and downstairs bedrooms. The maple came from an enormous tree from the George and Honey Hooser property. Part of the acreage had a barn, where Harry kept a few white-face cattle, and in the late 1950s, a rusting 1929 Cord automobile, which he spent ten years restoring.

Social life in Cloverdale revolved around the Tuesday night Neighbourhood Bowling League, Parent-Teacher Association meetings, the Victorian Order of Nurses Ladies Auxiliary, impromptu visits around the neighbourhood (where the coffee pot was always on) and house parties which began in the early evening with supper and often ended with wee-small-hours bacon and egg breakfasts.

In 1964, Harry and Rose sold their home and moved back to Vancouver where their married life had begun. Although they were some distance away, the friendships formed over a lifetime in Cloverdale endured, and their connection to the community and its history remained.

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