Fleetwood is a district within Surrey, and is one of the later community centres to develop. What was to become the Fleetwood district was a heavily wooded area around the junction of Yale Road (Fraser Highway) and Pike Road (160th Street). Yale Road was opened in 1875 as a through route from Yale in the upper valley to New Westminster. Most early settlers preferred the lowlands of the Serpentine or Nicomekl rivers as the land was fertile and easy to clear. The uplands on the other hand were heavily timbered and difficult to clear. Only a few hardy settlers took up the challenge of settling in the Fleetwood area. This was the preferred area for loggers.
Fleetwood Homestead Map
The earliest settlers chose the area along Yale Road from Pike to Coast Meridian Roads. The area to the west toward Johnston Road (152nd Street) was heavily timbered and was not taken up by the earliest settlers. Some of Fleetwood's early settlers were Logan Davis, Guy & Ellen Whiteside, Joseph Drinkwater, and W.E. Pike.(See the Pike Family)
The Davis family was one of the earliest. Logan and Elizabeth arrived in 1889 and homesteaded the south-east quarter of section thirty, Township two. The homestead was at the corner of the Pike and Davis Roads (now 160th Street and 88 Ave.). They had a family of four children. This is the northern end of Fleetwood bordering the Tynehead district.
Guy and Ellen Whiteside left England in 1888 and went to New Westminster where they lived with Guy's brother Walter until 1889. That year, they preempted a homestead of 160 acres on the northwest corner of the Old Yale Road and Pike Road (now known as 160th Street & Fraser Highway). By hard work and determination they had cleared the land and built a home. This would become the central point of the area later known as Fleetwood.
By 1900 they had a family of five. Joseph and Anna Drinkwater arrived in Fleetwood about 1893. They settled on the Coast Meridian Road, just south of the Old Yale Road. They had a family of seven. In the early years Joe was the local constable and the tax collector. W.E. Pike homesteaded in Mud Bay/Elgin in 1872, but sold out to John Stevenson in 1876 and pre-empted a quarter section in Fleetwood. William worked in New Westminster and cleared his land. Little more is known about William, he served one year as a Surrey Councilor, except that he lived in the area long enough to give the local road (160th Street) his name.
In 1907 James and Edith Francis homesteaded on land in the vicinity of Yale Road and Pike Road. (Francis Road is 159th Street) A few years later on, other members of Edith's immediate family, the Fleetwoods, joined them. When World War I was declared many immigrants from England, like the Fleetwoods, felt honour bound to support their former home and country. Many enlisted to see action overseas. Edith's brother, Arthur Thomas (Tom) Fleetwood, joined the 46th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in August 1915. He was deployed to France and in September 1917 he died from his battle wounds. Edith was so upset with the loss of her brother and felt the need to honour him. She applied to the Provincial Government for a charter to name her community in remembrance of Tom.
Fleetwood, which refers to the immediate area around the Francis family homestead, honoured Tom Fleetwood by having his name as part of the community in which he had lived.
Fleetwood's growth was gradual but steady during the early years. Homes were located on large parcels of land, and more roads were being built to allow easier access to the settlements. The cementing of Pacific Highway in 1923 brought increased traffic from New Westminster to the USA through Fleetwood. This also eased access and resulted in a modest increase in settlement.
Residents who wished to have a community voice in Surrey public affairs formed the Fleetwood Community Association in 1923. Edith Francis was one of the founding members. The Fleetwood Community Hall was built in the 1930s to provide a much needed space for social functions and community meetings. The hall still operates today at the corner of 84th Avenue and 160th Street, across from the Fleetwood Community Centre. Community spirit and volunteer labour created the 120 acre Fleetwood Park, located on 80th Avenue, between 156th and 160th Streets. A swimming pool was built around the creek that runs through the park, and the fast flowing water continuously filled the pool. Students in the 1920s and 1930s attended Tynehead Elementary on Townline and Coast Meridian Roads (88th Avenue and 168th Street) as this was the communities existing school.
The depression years of the 1930s saw many people come out to Fleetwood as land was relatively inexpensive and access was good. The drought on the Prairies during most of the 30s saw many farming families leave the Prairie Provinces to come to BC where rain was usually assured. Many of the families who settled held small holdings of 2-1/2, 5 or 10 acres. Poultry farming was the occupation of choice. Some used Fleetwood as a residential base as they traveled to work in other locations. It was at this time that settlement moved westward along Pacific Highway towards Green Timbers and north along Johnston Road.
War time saw a significant population growth in the Fleetwood area as housing shortages in Vancouver and New Westminster forced people to look for housing in the Fraser Valley.
Fleetwood Elementary School was built in 1944 due to the growing student numbers. It opened as a four-room school with a basement. It was located on Davis Road near Johnston Road (15289 88th Avenue). This is west of the historic Fleetwood center but serviced the growing population of the district.
The end of World War II and the availability of heavy earth moving equipment allowed the clearing and development of Surrey's upland areas. Settlement in Fleetwood began to grow and the late 1940s and 1950s and was marked by gradual population growth and urban development. Retail and commercial sites tended to locate in the area around Pacific Highway from Coast Meridian Road to Johnston Road. This included the Wander Inn, a dine and dance facility, at Coast Meridian and Pacific Highway, and Bruce Brown's and Bert Grantham's General Stores. However, most shopping was still done at the Co-op in Cloverdale or in New Westminster. The opening of William Watson Elementary, at 16450 80th Avenue, in 1958 reflected this increased growth in the early settled part of the Fleetwood community.
The main commercial centers emerged at the intersection of Pacific Highway and Johnston Road (Fraser Highway and 152nd Street), and Pacific Highway and Pike Road (Fraser Highway and 160th Street) and the trend continued into the 1980s, along with the growth of more single residential and multi–family housing.
The opening of the new Trans Canada Highway in the 1960s saw the old Trans Canada or part of Pacific Highway renamed Fraser Highway.
The 1990s brought Fleetwood more amenities and recreational facilities. Fleetwood Park received a half million dollars in improvements, with the addition of a new washroom facility, water park, basketball/hockey court, and playground equipment.
In 1994, just west of Fleetwood Park, Fleetwood Park Secondary opened. It is located at 7940 156th Street.
In 1995 the Fleetwood Community Centre and Library opened and was a welcome addition to the community. On May 19th 2005 a Community Police facility was opened as part of the Community Centre. In the late 1990s the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex opened 16555 Fraser Highway. This provided two ice arenas and a meeting facility.
Fleetwood continues to be one of the fastest growing districts in Surrey. A widening of Fraser Highway was completed in 2005-06 which further development. The map belows shows the community map from the mid-2000s. One wonders what Tom Fleetwood would say if he could see his community today.
In 2021, the City of Surrey released a community development plan in conjunction with the Skytrain extension through to the Surrey Sports and Leisure Centre at 166 & Fraser Highway.
This will be an exciting time for Fleetwood as it grows to accommodate many more community members who will continue with the pride that the original Fleetwood family would be proud of.