Historic Surrey

As Surrey continues to make headlines as a sprawling suburban centre, on pace to overtake Vancouver as the most populated city in the province in the next fifteen years, let’s take a quick glance at the history of the fast-booming city. British Columbia was proclaimed a British colony on November 19, 1858. The capital city was established in 1859, and Queen Victoria named it New Westminster after her beloved part of London. About 20 years later, Surrey was officially incorporated as a municipality. Taking inspiration from Her Majesty, H. J. Brewer came up with the name Surrey when, standing on the bank of the Fraser River, he was reminded of the County of Surrey, which in his homeland sat right across the Thames from Westminster. Brewer was the first Clerk of the Municipal Council. Early pioneers made use of Surrey’s natural resources, and before long fishing, farming and logging developed into major industries (today Surrey remains home to over 500 farms). Small stores flourished as the settler community grew. In 1910, the B.C. Electric Inter-Urban Railway began operating from New Westminster to Chilliwack, enabling further growth in trade and enhancing unity with the community by bringing residents of the municipal towns together. The opening of the Pattullo Bridge in 1937 enabled the municipality to reach neighbouring communities. Building steadily upon its profile and economic viability—aided by the tremendous growth in immigrant population—Surrey embarked upon exponential growth from the 1980s on and, despite its rather notorious struggle with crime control, looks poised anddetermined to establish itself front and centre as the economic and cultural hub of the province.

Quick Facts about Surrey

  • Surrey was incorporated as a municipality in 1879
  • Surrey was incorporated as a city in 1993.
  • Surrey is the 12th largest city in Canada.
  • Built in 1912, the Surrey Municipal Hall, now rehabilitated to hold to City’s archives, had a total construction cost of $11,920.
  • The six “town centres” that form the City of Surrey are: Fleetwood, Whalley/City Centre, Guildford, Newton, Cloverdale, and South Surrey.
  • The first Canada Cup International Women’s Fastpitch Tournament took place at Softball City in South Surrey, B.C. The Tournament is now in its 16th year.
  • Surrey is the second-most populated city in British Columbia.
  • Surrey’s city flag features a crest divided by three wavy lines, with five gold stars, a gold beaver and a building.
  • Surrey Central City is the winner of the 2004 MIPIM (Marche International des Professionels de l’Immobilier) special jury prize.
  • During the American Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, Cloverdale became a popular destination for Americans because its liquor store was the closest to the border. Lineups were a common sight.

“You Know You’re From Surrey When…” —Taken from a Facebook group (2955 members strong) with the same name

  • You’ve had your car broken into, and stolen.
  • You remind other people that Vancouver is the gateway to Surrey.
  • You know that the Serpentine and Nicomekl are where all those storm drains with the painted yellow fish drain into.
  • You’ve helped paint those yellow fish on the road.
  • You know that annoying kid doesn’t live in White Rock, he lives in South Surrey.
  • You know that April 13th is Vaisakhi either because you’ve been to the parade or you know the roads will be closed in Newton.
  • You have a friend named G-Unit.
  • You’ve watched a grow-op get raided.
  • You explain to people why your area is the nice area when you tell them you’re from Surrey.
  • You know “Pattullo” rhymes with “Nutella.”