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The last corner of the Government Reserve

March 29, 2014

In 1903, with the Fraser River bridge nearing completion, the municipality of Surrey was making plans for property on the south side approach, located in Lot 1, part of the Government Reserve dating back to 1860.

Council clerk E Carncross wrote to the Dominion Land Agent at New Westminster.

December 19, 1903

“I am instructed by the Surrey Municipal Council to apply through you to the Dominion Government – for a grant of 23.47 acres of the Government Reserve as indicated by the enclosed plat; being a portion of Section 18 B5N R2W Township 38 WCM, for public roads, Military Parade grounds, stock yards and other public purposes, – also said to be part of Lot 1 Group 2.”

AJ Hill Plan of Dominion Lands Applied for by Surrey Council

Other parties were also showing interest in the property.  The British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER)  wanted land for future rights of way and shops, and the Militia had expressed an interest in extending the limits of the rifle range in this direction, extending the line of fire to 1200 yards.

John McKenzie, in a Memo to the Secretary, Department of the Interior, dated May 26, 1906 detailed his recommendations for the property.

“Dominion Lands Office,
New Westminster
Sir,-
The enclosed plan shows that all the land between the N. bdy Lot 2 on South — South bdy Sec 7 B5N R2W on north — Sec 17 B5N R2W as Crown Granted on East, and right of way Bridge approach on West is Dominion Land —
Mr John Wise is to have SW portion S. and W. of existing plank Road —
The BC Electric Ry may need the 3 cornered place N. of said existing plank Road — but their scheme is not fully defined yet.
Remainder is clear — excepting app. of Surrey Municipality.
That application is not however to stand in the way of Rifle Range requirements —
I enclose copy letter I gave Lt Col JC Whyte Commanding 6th Regt. at this point.
I consider best method is for Rifle Range authorities to take what they need — after which app. of Surrey to be considered.”

Below, Dominion Land Agent sketch of competing land interests at south end of Fraser River bridge, 1906.


1905 Dominion Land Agent  sketch of competing land interests at Fraser River bridge approach


Another matter to consider was that the provincial department of lands had gone ahead and gazetted a 66-foot wide right-of-way for the “plank road” which ran from the Old Yale Road to the New Westminster Bridge, thereby alienating a portion of Dominion property without submitting a survey.

As late as May 1907 McKenzie was still waiting for plans from the Department of Militia for disposal of this property.

In 1911 Surrey renewed its request for a portion of the reserve, hoping to acquire 16 acres for a  park at the place where it formerly wanted to put a military parade ground.
It does not appear Surrey obtained any part of the Dominion lands in the neighborhood.

The BCER did acquire the corner property close to the Bridge.

The Valley Lumber Company obtained a portion of the former Government Reserve in Lot 1 and established a lumber yard.

In 1930 the last remaining portion of Lot 1, which had been held as Government Reserve since 1860, was offered at public auction in conjunction with the sale of the former Dominion Rifle Range.  The Valley Lumber Company bought this 11.7 acre portion to add to its existing property.

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