Community members will have the chance to discover mid-century Surrey through the lens of newsman Stan McKinnon in an upcoming history talk hosted by the Surrey Archives.
Longtime Surrey residents will recognize Stan McKinnon’s name and byline. He worked for the Surrey Leader newspaper for nearly 50 years, from when he started as an apprentice printer in 1936 to when he retired as editor in 1984.
McKinnon saw Surrey through decades of change, development and history, recording it for his newspaper in both print and photography. The Stan McKinnon collection, housed at the Surrey Archives, includes nearly 2.5 m of records.
The vast collection will be showcased at a free talk on Saturday, March 10, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will be hosted by Surrey Archives staff at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre (6188 176 Street).
“Stan McKinnon’s photos are an iconic representation of Surrey’s past,” said archivist Chelsea Bailey.
“He really had an eye for capturing the spirit of the community. This upcoming talk will showcase photos from the 1940s to the 1970s – it’s one you really don’t want to miss,” said Bailey.
The collection is comprised of two donations. In 1980, McKinnon donated approximately 5,500 photographs to the Surrey Archives: a record of Surrey events, businesses, residents and community groups from the 1940s to the 1960s. In 2016, a family member donated a box of research notes and correspondence from McKinnon’s work at the Surrey Leader, and hundreds of family photographs.
When McKinnon started as an apprentice printer at the Surrey Leader in 1936, it was a four-page paper with a yearly subscription cost of $1. He worked his way up to a part-time linotype operator and reporter, eventually becoming the editor in 1941. He enlisted in the Canadian Air Force in 1943, and returned to work at the paper as an editor and secretary following the Second World War. He became a junior partner in 1948, co-owner of the paper in 1961 and sole owner in 1977.
McKinnon continued on as editor of the Surrey Leader until he retired in 1984. He passed away in 1996 at 77 years of age.
Throughout his career, McKinnon described himself as an “old-fashioned newsman” as he despised the term “journalist.”
“Dad always wanted to be called a newsman and hated to be called a journalist because he thought the latter was far more interested in spreading their opinions, and inflating their egos, than sticking to the facts,” said Ian McKinnon, Stan McKinnon’s son.
Aside from being a no-nonsense “newsman,” McKinnon was also a Surrey Councillor on the Surrey Non-Partisan Association slate and a community builder. He served in various community organizations and actively worked to preserve green space in Surrey.
“He traveled widely and toured [municipalities] that suffered from poor planning for the future,” said Ian.
“As I recall, he fought hard for what would eventually become the Cloverdale Athletic Park, near 64th and 168th Street, even though at the time there was nothing but empty fields and very low-density housing,” said Ian, remembering that his father encouraged his elementary school class to write letters to the mayor and council.
For those who want to learn more about McKinnon’s work, and Surrey in the 1940s to 1970s, the March 10 talk is sponsored by the Friends of the Surrey Museum and Archives Society and is free to attend. It is geared towards those 13 years of age and older. For more information, call the Surrey Archives at 604-502-6459 or visit www.surrey.ca/heritage.