These heritage fruit trees were planted more than 100 years ago, shortly after the Scott family arrived in Cloverdale in 1912. They were in full bloom during the informal opening ceremony for the park on April 16, 2019. (Jim Foulkes)

Cloverdale’s newly named Henry Houston Scott Park opens

Park named for African-American settlers who came to Surrey in 1912

Cloverdale’s newly named Henry Houston Scott Park was recognized in an informal ceremony last Tuesday afternoon (April 16).

It was the perfect time of year for a welcoming event. The sun shone down on blooming heritage trees, first planted more than 100 years ago by the Scotts, African-American settlers who came to Cloverdale in 1912.

Although the park is a small pocket of land at the corner of what is now 64 Avenue and 181A Street, it was just a piece of the Scott’s seven-acre farm in 1912.

The event was hosted by the Surrey Historical Society (SHS), the heritage group who advocated to name the park after Henry Houston Scott.

SHS president Michael Gibbs said the event “was a great example of community engagement, with the [Cloverdale] Chamber of Commerce, Block Watch, and many neighbours present to not only appreciate the important heritage of this park but also the significance of a clean green space to the neighbourhood’s livability.”

Surrey’s manager of parks Neal Aven, one of the city representatives at the event, said that “Parks staff were pleased to support the Surrey Heritage Society’s tremendous efforts in preparing for and hosting this opening event for the community.”

“Through the official naming of this park and the installation of a heritage sign nearby, the City formally recognizes and honours the Henry Houston Scott family’s contributions to the Cloverdale area,” he said.

According to research by the Surrey Historical Society, Henry Houston Scott’s history has been traced back to his birth in Texas in 1854, nearly a decade before slavery was abolished in the United States.

Scott met and married Amy Florence in Texas, and the couple moved to Oklahoma before coming to Canada in 1912 with their three youngest children. (The elder seven children were old enough to have their own lives by then.)

The Scotts grew hay and raised dairy cattle on their Cloverdale farm. The family members also took up other trades. According to research by SHS member Jim Foulkes, Henry Scott became a shoemaker, son Roy a sawmill worker and a porter for the railroad, daughter Benola a school teacher well-known for her beautiful singing voice, and son Jesse a worker at a Burnaby oil refinery.

Jesse also played for the company baseball team, IOCO (Imperial Oil). As far as the heritage society is aware, the only remaining photos of the Scott family consist of Jesse’s team photos.

The mark of the family’s involvement in the community can still be seen today. Henry Scott cleared a road from Bose Road (64 Avenue) and Pacific Highway (176 Street) to the family farm, which is where 181A Street would be today.

And, of course, you can still see the family’s fruit trees at Henry Houston Scott Park.

The Surrey Historical Society first presented their research on the Scott family to the City of Surrey in April 2018, as part of an effort to provide a headstone for the Scott family grave, which had gone unmarked for 84 years.

They had discovered that the family grave at Surrey Centre Cemetery, which is the final resting place for Henry Houston, Amy Florence and their children Jesse, Roy and Benola, had gone unmarked for 84 years.

The society received permission to install a headstone in a quiet ceremony last year. Now the Scott name is recorded alongside other settler families buried in the cemetery, including the Kells, Johnston, and Bose families.

They then went further, advocating to name the pocket park after the family.

City council passed a motion approving the naming on Feb. 26, 2019. At the time, mayor Doug McCallum said that council was pleased to name the park after the Scott family as it recognizes “the important role that the Scott family played in shaping the community” and “provides a sense of history and belonging to our residents and city as a whole.”

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