Exterior of the Haney Centre Post Office, on 224th Street, in the 1950s. (Maple Ridge Museum)

Looking Back: Heritage stands test of time

Objects, traditions passed down through history to present.

  • Feb. 5, 2018 12:00 a.m.

Heritage Week will be celebrated Feb. 18–24 and the theme this year is “Heritage stands the test of time,” with a look to how our collective history is told in our languages, music, photographs, maps documents, in objects and traditions – passed down through history to the present day.

Our heritage buildings are physical records of the people and events that shape our past and our future, and our cultural landscapes bear the imprint of generations of Canadians.

This year, the Maple Ridge Museum will have displays in the library focusing on neighbourhoods: how communities have endured the test of time.

One of the first things a newcomer to the city will notice is that Maple Ridge is not the only name in use. People familiar with the area from childhood will ask, ‘Didn’t this used to be Haney?’

Other frequently heard names are Hammond, Whonnock, Webster’s Corners, Ruskin, Albion, and Yennadon. These names refer to the original historic neighbourhoods, each of which once had its own post office and community centre that included stores, schools, churches and halls. Allco was a railway logging camp in the 1920s that had the last post office issued in the City of Maple Ridge.

One of the earliest European settlers to the area was John McIver, who emigrated from Scotland and homesteaded the land now known as the Maple Ridge Golf Course. As his property incorporated a fine ridge topped by maple trees, McIver called his farm Maple Ridge.

The Incorporation of the Distract of Maple Ridge was created on Sept. 12, 1874. It included all the land between the Pitt and Stave rivers, plus a triangle of land north of the Pitt, in what is now Port Coquitlam.

In 1876, the first post office was established in the area where Laity Street meets River Road and it was called Maple Ridge.

The completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway caused the community to rethink the location of the post office, and by 1886 three new post offices were opened in Port Haney, Port Hammond and Whonnock – all along the railway line.

This was the most influential change to the development of Maple Ridge, and shaped much of how the city is still structured today.

Each neighbourhood held onto its own post office for as long as possible, but with door-to-door delivery in Haney in 1961, all mail was sorted in a centralized location, not at the small local post offices.

From mayor and council on the re-establishment of Maple Ridge as our postal address in 1970: “It is to be hoped that this decision will tend to unite Maple Ridge as a community and at the same time never lose the identities of the several place names in the area which are so proud.”

During February, consider celebrating Heritage Week by visiting museums, historic sites, and cultural centres that help preserve and share our heritage for posterity.

You can even walk around your neighhourhood to take in all the heritage around you. Our heritage buildings were built to last.

Participate in our tour of the Maple Ridge Cemetery, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m., or our downtown walking tour, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m., run by the Maple Ridge Historical Society.

• Visit mapleridgemuseum.org for more details or call 604-463-5311.

Allison White is curator of the Maple Ridge Museum and Community Archives.

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