‘Doors Open’ to museum, dozens of other Surrey places

Surrey’s annual Doors Open event happens again this Saturday (June 27), giving people a behind-the-scenes look at the city’s culture, history, art and architecture.

The free event involves 39 sites in Cloverdale, Newton, Bear Creek and City Centre neighbourhoods, with a hop-on, hop-off trolley part of the “Be a tourist in your own city” action from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Surrey Museum’s collections storage area is on the Doors Open map for a second time, giving curator Lana Panko a chance to showcase some of the 40,000 artifacts kept there.

“It’s pretty rare for the public to see this space,” said Panko as she gave the Now an hour-long tour there.

The rooms store everything from kitchen gadgets to a big fire truck, and all of it is somehow related to Surrey.

During the Doors Open event, Panko said, “we want to give people a scope of the history here, to tell the story of Surrey.”

The collections wing includes a plate with the image of Rita Johnston, the former Surrey alderman and MLA who went on to become Canada’s first female premier.

There’s an Order of the British Empire medal given to Cyril Headey, a Surrey poultry farmer who, during the First World War, figured out a way to ship eggs to Europe — by placing them in crates of wet sand.

Musicians would be keen to see the museum’s rare Estralita guitar, just the 45th such axe of about 100 made by the company in the 1930s.

Also of note is the recording made by American singer/activist Paul Robeson during a concert at the Peace Arch in 1953.

“There are so many interesting things here,” said a smiling Panko, whose job involves fielding calls from people looking to donate items they believe are worthy of storage in a museum.

“We get calls at least once a day,” she said, noting that appointments for such transactions are best.

“I’d say 98 per cent of the items here are donated,” added Panko, who is the curator of collections for both Surrey Museum and Historic Stewart Farm.

“We do have holes in our collection.”

Not long ago, the city’s heritage department put out a call for multicultural objects in a bid to bolster that area of its collection. Desired items include personal clothing and adornment, crafts, home wares and tools, music recordings, ceremonial wear and more. Those with items to donate are asked to call Panko at 604-502-6405.

This year, the Surrey Doors Open website (Surrey.ca/doorsopen) includes an interactive map to all tour sites — from the BC Vintage Truck Museum to Whalley’s Corner Community Festival, in alphabetical order — and all are located north of Highway 10.

Participating sites are offering a variety of free activities including tours, demonstrations, local food, live entertainment and children’s activities. Event goers can also take part in the Surrey Doors Open photo contest by uploading photos of sites visited to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #SURREYDOORSOPEN or emailing doorsopen@surrey.ca.

“Surrey enjoys a rich cultural fabric and strong sense of community that is further explored each year through Surrey Doors Open,” said Coun. Judy Villeneuve.

“Residents are provided a sneak peek into many important and socially significant civic spaces that contribute to our quality of life and connect our heritage to one another.”


The opening ceremony for Surrey Doors Open kicks off at 1 p.m. at the Newton Community Festival, and free bus and trolley transportation is available in each of the following participating communities: City Centre, Bear Creek Park, Newton and Cloverdale. Doors Open runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.