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Hard Landing — Bishop Hills’ Day Trip

October 16, 2012

In September 1877, Bishop George Hills of the Anglican Church was on of one of his periodic visitations to the hinterlands of the Diocese of British Columbia.
From the upper Fraser River he came down to Hope by canoe, spent the night there and held services the next day.

The day after, Hills was up before dawn to catch a steamer down to Brown’s Landing. Owing to delays it was not until late in the afternoon before he got started on the next leg of his excursion, which would see him exploring the district on the south side of the Fraser as far out as the Serpentine River.

Bishop Hills and horse - thumnail - Link to photo at BC Archives   The Bishop took a bad fall at Brownsville, and was feeling it, as he mounted a horse for the ride up the Yale road hill.

From  Hills’  diary, beginning at Hope, BC —

  "Friday, Sept 14. Up at 1/2 past 4. Steamer did not arrive till 6.  At 1 arrived at Brown’s Landing — at 1/4 to 3 started with Mr Kells on horseback from the Serpentine settlement, reached Mr Kells cottage at 5:30. Road very rough in great part — the Semiahmo road, cross road from which to Mr Kells a mere chop for a horse trail.’    

The “horse trail” likely branched off from the Semiahmoo Road at about 142 Street, following the direction of 64 Avenue eastward to 152 Street.   Bishop Hills and Mr Kells had covered a distance of about 8 or 9 miles in 2 3/4 hours — a walking pace.

Henry Kells from Serpentine settlement was homesteading on a quarter section of land on the west bank of the Serpentine River, at what is now the northeast corner of 152 Street and 64 Avenue.  

This neighbourhood later became known as the Johnston Settlement, after James Johnston and his sons who homesteaded adjoining sections here, and then later called Sullivan. Henry Kells, a bachelor at this time,  was later married to Mary Ann Kells and with her brother, also a Henry Kells, a bootmaker at New Westminster, founded the settlement of Port Kells on Fraser River in 1889.

By now Hills had been on the go more than 12 hours since rising in Hope.

  "Two other young settlers & an older one met me, latter obliged to go soon (Johnson)  — dined —  bed in the chamber between the eves — could not stand up it — straw mattress — any bunk in a prison more comfortable, still sleep & not to be had & it was the best my host cd give — so I was content — though stiff & sore on account of a fall I got just before starting from Browns. Had a talk about the Settlers around there were between 150 & 200 between Ladners (Trenant) and Mud Bay including the Serpentine, a very important body to look after. A Presbyterian minister comes once in 3 weeks."  

The Presbyterian minister Mr Alexander Dunn, residing at Langley, served congregations throughout the Fraser Valley, his weekly services, often in two locales on one day, involved extensive travelling over roads even less accommodating than the trunk roads.

  "Saturday, Sept 15. Breakfast 1/2 past 6. Walked over to Mr Kells clearing, land excellent. Off at 1/2 past 8.

10:30 arrived at Mr Turners on the road from Ladners to Hope & Yale. Held service 10 present – preached from Titus ii, 11-14."


John James Turner was an American homesteader on the west bank of the Serpentine fronting on the Ladner & Hope Wagon Road, occupying the SE 1/4 Section 11, Township 2, WCM. Current address 156 St to 160 St on 56 Ave (#10 Hwy), extending back to 60 Ave.  Turner was married to Mary Elizabeth Huck, daughter of  neighbours Abraham and Nancy Huck.

  "Visited with Mr Turner and Mr Kells the proposed site of Church — dine at Mrs Huck, wife of an American backwoods settler lately come here — very worthy people. Methodists however."  

Notwithstanding his different religious denomination, Abraham Huck donated property for the Anglican Christ Church on the Coast Meridian Road at Surrey Centre.  Huck was a farmer and blacksmith with extensive property holdings.

  "At 2 off again along main road (Ladners & Hope) towards Ladners till junction with road from N. Westminster — then to Browns Landing & across Ferry to N. Westminster arriving at the Rectory at 1/2 past 5 very tired & stiff."  

This return leg of his trip was a 3 1/2 hour journey that followed the present Old McClellan Road west from 168 Street and #10 Highway  for 3 miles to the junction with the Semiahmoo Road near to 144 Street, thence northwest to Brown’s Landing, about 8 miles. The Ferry was a private boat.

The source for this account is from notes of a rough transcription of Hills’ Diary. It is best to consult the original for absolute accuracy.

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