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Delta's rich history celebrated
Delta celebrated Heritage Week recently (Feb. 18-24) by recognizing people and places important to the history of the region.
One of three people to receive the Heritage Award of Merit was Laurence Guichon for his ongoing care of the Guichon family home.
It was in 1881 that Laurent Guichon, a French immigrant from Savoie province, sold his ranch in the Nicola Valley and bought 600 acres in Ladner for $12,000. The Guichon family home was built nine years later in 1890, where Roman Catholic services were held in the dining room until a church could be built nearby.
When the fishing community began building up in Ladner in the early 1900s, the Guichon home became the centre of commerce in South Delta.
Matt Rogers, a local historian who helped the Heritage Advisory Committee in their selections for the awards, explained the historic significance of the Guichon residence.
"This was a thriving community of farmers and fishermen and the land that was held by the Guichons goes all the way back to the [former] Indian Reserve," he said.
As the fishing boom brought more people to Ladner, the railway was built all the way to the Guichon home in 1903, and named Port Guichon.
"There was a store here and the person who ran the store for many years was actually the brother of Premier [Richard] McBride," said Rogers.
Although Ladner is often celebrated for its history, North Delta also has a significant number of houses and neighbourhoods that date back to the early 20th Century.
In fact, the first European settler to Delta was James Kennedy, who was commissioned by Colonel Richard Clement Moody in 1861 to build a trail from New Westminster to what is now Annieville in North Delta.
Annieville was one of the earliest settled regions of Delta, first by immigrants from Trondheim, Norway in the 1890s following the establishment of salmon canneries.
Rogers said he remembers in the 1940s many children and grandchildren of the pioneer families from North Delta because the only high school was located in Ladner at the time.
"When you played lacrosse or any kind of game it took all of Delta to make a team in your age group," he said laughing.
The Delta Museum and Archives received a "Friends of Heritage" Award from the Corporation for their work in The Mapping Project, an effort to document historic areas in North Delta.
Museum and Archives executive director Gabrielle Martin said the project involved working with a variety of focus groups composed of different ages, cultural backgrounds and neighbourhoods, and then had an artist create an original piece of art linking them together.
"North Delta feels that disconnect from Delta as a whole and they don't feel any kinship with Surrey," she said. "And so part of what came out of [the project] was this community discovering its own history and its culture and ethnic uniqueness."
One of North Delta's oldest homes is the Knight residence, built in 1932 on land owned by a Vancouver family who used it as a summer home. Situated on Sunshine Hills, the house had an impressive view.
"When the trees were cleared you could look all the way out down toward the south here," said Rogers.
Susannah Alexander and Edward Evans received the Heritage Award of Merit for the preservation of the Knight residence.
Receiving Friends of Heritage Awards were Tim Bowling, for his writing on Delta’s early fishing industry, James Price and Mike Wolzen, for donating their time and expertise to projects related to Delta’s Heritage Barns, and the Delta Museum and Archives for The Mapping Project.