Surrey Centre developed near the junction of the Old McLellan Road and Coast Meridian Road. Surrey Municipality was established November 10, 1879. The earliest council meetings were held in private homes around the District but it was decided that a town hall needed to be established in a central location. Abraham Huck donated an acre of land at Surrey Centre and a contract was let for a building of 20 feet by 30 feet. Town Hall was completed and the first meeting held on May 2nd 1881. The building continued to be the seat of Municipal government in Surrey until 1912, when a fine new Municipal Hall was built in Cloverdale. The original Town Hall was moved to the new Surrey Fairgrounds in 1938, where it is now incorporated as part of Surrey Senior Center.
The old Town Hall on the Surrey Fairgrounds on the present site of Surrey Museum at Hwy. 15 and 60th Avenue.
The original settlers in Surrey Centre were the Hucks and the Boothroyds. In 1872 Abraham and Nancy Huck bought 320 acres of land. He held the two quarter sections south of 60th Avenue. In addition to farming Abe built a room onto the house for a small general store. A large barn was also built. Abe had a blacksmith shop in one end of the barn where he shod oxen and horses. His home was located at the junction of Coast Meridian Road and Old McClellan Road. Next to his home he and his wife operated a store and the local post office. He donated the site for the first Surrey Centre School, and provided the property for the first Town Hall.
The Boothroyds were the second family to come to Surrey Centre. George Boothroyd and his brother William had operated a road house near Boston Bar for miners continuing up the Caribou Road to the gold fields. In 1878 George sold his interest in the roadhouse and came down to the coast to start farming at Surrey Centre near the Hucks. George held the quarter section north of Old McClellan Road and east of Coast Meridian Road.
The very large Boothroyd Family was typical of the families of the 1870s. The original Boothroyd home still stands on the north east corner of 168th Street and 60th Avenue.
The Reverend William Bell an Anglican Minister came to Surrey in 1882 and he was instrumental in having the first church – Christ Church – in the municipality built at Surrey Centre. Its foundation stone was laid August 16, 1884.
Bell Hall was built in the 1930s but named after the first Anglican Minister of Christ Church.
In 1877 the Royal Orange Lodge opened a hall at Surrey Centre along the Old McLellan Road. This lodge reflected the Protestant character of the community.
Other early settlers in Surrey Centre were Alf McCallum seen here beside his cabin, and Harold Altree, who is driving Mrs. Churchland in his buggy.
In 1891 with the growth of young families in the Surrey Centre district a one-room Surrey Centre School was opened. This was built on the site where the Christ Church/Surrey Centre cemetery is located across the street from the present school. It had a very small school yard, about half an acre. Classes began August 10, 1891. Eighteen farm kids aged from five to fourteen learned the 3 R's from their first teacher, Miss Martha McDowell. The school was described as being similar to Anniedale Elementary which still stands at 176th Street and Hwy 1.
This is the 1891 Surrey Centre one–room school. In the early years the water for the school was not taken for the well in the school yard. Some parents claimed that the school well was too close to the graves in the nearby cemetery, and that there might be danger of contamination of the ground water. There was an outhouse in each corner of the school yard, one for the girls and one for the boys.
In 1939–40 the school expanded into the three-room Fairground buildings across the street from the first school. It was a two room building, with space for grades one to three, and grades four to six, plus a teacher's room. A gym was added later. When the school moved to a new 1949 building, the old school became the school board administration office and the gym a maintenance work shop.
By 1949 school enrollment had increased to 144 and as a result, on December 14, 1949, a new four room school Surrey Centre was officially declared open. At that time the lower level was used as a basement for indoor play and the school had an attached gymnasium. An Addition of two classrooms was added in the early 1960s.
In early 2000 the school had grown to 269 students with 11 classes from Kindergarten to Grade 7. Growing parental and staff concerns with over-crowding, health issues, efficiency and seismic safety spurred a lobby to get a new school built. As a result, construction of a new facility began in December 2002. The fourth Surrey Centre School opened to; 400 students in 16 classrooms, a full-sized gym, library, and several special education rooms. Eight more classrooms will be added in the future. The former school site will become the playground and sports field.
Surrey Centre Elementary 2004
The opening of the New Westminster and Southern Railway in 1891 saw the rapid growth of Cloverdale. Surrey Centre remained the administrative center of Surrey until a new Municipal Hall was opened in Cloverdale in 1912. Cloverdale's developed eclipsed the development of Surrey Centre. Many of the functions that Surrey Centre had held were taken over by the blossoming Cloverdale. Surrey Centre remained a local focus only, but with the 1990s it has seen a resurgence as a residential area.
The name Elgin today is associated with residential subdivisions, and a Surrey Secondary School.
Content contributions and photo contributions by Jack Berry and Lorne Pearson.