Since 1929, from the waning days of the horse and buggy, through wars and celebrations, births and deaths, good times and bad, The Surrey Leader has chronicled the people and events shaping this community for nearly 88 years.
A little history is now in order.
The first edition of The Surrey Leader was printed on July 17, 1929. In his inaugural editorial, G.W.A. (Bill) Smith wrote from his Cloverdale office that it would be the paper’s aim to assist in hastening the development of an already growing Surrey.
“We have no use for knockers, but we do believe in constructive criticism, and while cheerfully allowing the other fellow the right to his opinion, we reserve to ourselves the same right.
In the first decade, an annual subscription (“always in advance”) to the four-page weekly publication cost $1 for residents of Canada, Great Britain and Ireland. For the U.S., the cost was $1.50.
In its final decade, The Leader was delivered to more than 80,000 homes.
In the early 1940s, Stan McKinnon began a 48-year career at The Leader as a writer, editor and columnist.
Hacker Press, the Abbotsford arm of a British publishing company, bought The Leader in 1979, followed by a transfer to David Black’s Black Press (no relation to Conrad Black) in the late 1990s.
The most recent editors were Frank Bucholtz in the mid-’80s, followed by Andrew Holota in the early ‘90s and Paula Carlson from 2009 to today, The Leader’s final issue.
The Leader’s recent publishers were Brian McCristall (1984-86), Barbara Baniulis (1987-91), Duane Geddes (1991-97), Candy Hodson (1997-99), Bruce McAuliffe (1999-2008), Jim Mihaly (2008-16) and Dwayne Weidendorf (2016-17).
The Leader’s offices moved around Cloverdale for the paper’s first few decades. The first big relocation was to 100 Avenue and King George then-Highway in the fall of 1983, recalls former editor Bucholtz, an expert on Surrey’s history. The office then moved to eight blocks south to 92 Avenue in 1994, followed by its last move to 152 Street and Highway 10 in August 2000.
Naturally, the technology of newspaper production evolved over the years, from painstaking hand-setting of letters on a page using metal of wood characters, to hot-metal typesetting machines to computerized typesetting to full-fledged computer pagination.
Macintosh computers began making their way into the newsrooms in the mid-1990s, followed by the first professional digital SLR camera in 2002. The Leader’s first connection to the Internet was in the fall of 1995 – through a phone line.
As technology accelerated, in addition to print editions, the newspaper became a 24/7 online news source at surreyleader.com
The last edition of The Leader is Friday, March 31, 2017.
A brief look over the years
The Surrey Leader’s commitment never changed: To bring readers the latest news and feature stories in the growing community. Here are some historical highlights:
• Oct. 16, 1929: George Shannon, one of the well-known Shannon Brothers, lies in bed suffering from serious injuries after being attacked by a bull.
• Feb. 5, 1930: Seventeen persons are convicted for not having licenses for their radio receivers.
• Oct. 15, 1930: Two more boy scouts have completed their Tenderfoot tests in Cloverdale.
• Feb. 4, 1931: An ad for a used item appears: A phonograph with 91 records. Horn speaker gives “splendid” tone. The cost is $2 down and $2 per month for 10 months. The seller is Ernest H. Dann, who would make a name for himself with electronics in Cloverdale.
• Feb. 10, 1932: Mrs. E.F. Vidal grows a pineapple in White Rock. The Leader gives a long list of the people who tasted it.
• Feb. 22, 1933: A Hard Times Dance takes place at the Athletic Hall. Music by Cy’s Music Makers.
• Sept. 12, 1934: Premier Pattullo announces a toll bridge over the Fraser River connecting Surrey to New Westminster.
• March 25, 1935: Surrey announces a tax hike that will bring in a total of $14,000 in collections.
• Sept. 28, 1938: The Housewives League of B.C. begins to organize in Surrey.
• Sept. 6, 1939: Attendants at the L.O.L picnic at the Fair Grounds in Cloverdale learn of the declaration of war.
• Dec. 13, 1939: King George VI Highway replaces the name Peace Arch Highway.
• Dec. 19, 1941: Areas of Surrey are blacked out due to report of Japanese planes off the West Coast.
• March 23, 1946: James Hill discovers an egg laid by one of his hens shaped in the perfect form of a chick.
• April 17, 1947: Surrey’s traffic toll to date is 60 accidents, 42 injuries and three deaths.
• Nov. 10, 1947: The Surrey Leader installs a Model 32 Bluestreak linotype machine for newspaper production.
• Aug. 10, 1950: Surrey is hit hard by Newcastle disease. A vaccination program proceeds at area poultry farms.
• Aug. 31, 1950: Surrey barbers raise the price of a standard haircut to 75 cents.
• March 20, 1952: The Athletic Hall and Opera House in Cloverdale is destroyed in a fire.
• June 24, 1954: A New Canadians Soccer Club sets up in Newton. The young immigrants involved are from The Netherlands.
• July 1955: Controversial musical figure Paul Robeson sings to a large crowd at Peace Arch Park.
• Dec. 15, 1956: White Rock separates from Surrey, becoming a separate municipality.
• May 9, 1957: Surrey and White Rock’s population reaches 49,366, the census shows. That’s a 50 per cent increase in five years.
• Jan. 22, 1959: Surrey moves to a six-day shopping week.
• Sept. 13, 1962: Surrey opens its new municipal hall in Newton.
• May 30, 1963: Surrey Council says the infestation of caterpillars are outside its jurisdiction.
• June 11, 1964: A big announcement: The opening of the Port Mann Bridge.
• Sept. 8, 1966: A Leader headline involves television: Many New Shows Going on Color.
• Nov. 3, 1966: Guildford Town Centre opens.
• April 11, 1968: The Fine Arts Centre opens in Bear Creek Park.
• May 14, 1970: Mayor Bill Vander Zalm demands a report on a protest at the U.S. border. A number of demonstrators protesting the American incursion into Cambodia crossed over the U.S. side and were pushed back by riot police.
• Dec. 17, 1970: After years of fundraising, Surrey Memorial Hospital opens.
• March 4, 1971: Meals on Wheels begins operating in Surrey. One menu includes clam chowder, roast beef, green beans and potatoes, with coconut cream pudding for dessert.
• Jan. 4, 1973: Surrey’s first high-rise tower is completed. The 22-storey building is named after retiring Surrey Coun. Ted Kuhn.
• Dec. 5, 1974: Surrey’s 1,300 public school teachers get a “huge” wage hike to $190 per month.
• Sept. 1, 1977: Surrey baseball player Kevin Halicki, 18, is signed by the Seattle Mariners.
• April 19, 1978: Surrey commits to the commercial development in the area of 152 Street and Fraser Highway.
• Sept. 24, 1980: The headline reads: Traffic Jams at Bridges Plague Motorists Daily.
• July 22, 1981: Dale Henderson, a 505-lb. Surdel Cabs taxi dispatcher, participates in the seventh-annual World Bellyflop and Cannonball Diving Championships.
• Jan. 26, 1983: The Non-Smokers Social Club gets organized.
• June 13, 1984: A gas price war continues, with some stations charging in the area of 34.5 cents per litre.
• March 20, 1985: The Surrey Public Library celebrates its second birthday with the grand opening of a new computerized library system and a space-age puppet show.
• June 23, 1985: Surrey Keg restaurants donate $1 from every entrée to Rick Hansen and his Man in Motion Tour.
• Jan. 10, 1988: Surrey announces that before long, separating recyclables will be mandatory.
• June 27, 1990: The opening of the Softball B.C. Complex – later Softball City – takes place in South Surrey.
• April 7, 1991: Surrey-Newton MLA Rita Johnston assumes the position premier of B.C. on a Social Credit ticket.
• Sept. 1, 1993: Tempers are tested with long wait times at the North Surrey Air Care Inspection Centre.
• March 27, 1994: The latest SkyTrain extension links Surrey’s city centre to downtown Vancouver for the first time.
• April 6, 1996: $59,000-worth of newly minted twoonies are stolen from a truck trailer in Surrey. The loot weights about 450 lbs.
• Sept. 17, 1997: The number of portables at Surrey schools is set to increase by nearly 40 per cent within a year – to a total of 459.
• Nov. 12, 1997: The leaky condo crisis hits a peak in Surrey.
• Dec. 18, 1998: A B.C. Supreme Court judge blasts the Surrey School Board for banning three books featuring same-sex relationships.
• Dec. 29, 1999: A headline reads: B Ready 4 Y2K.
• Jan. 4, 2002: A construction boom in Surrey set a record the previous year.
• March 5, 2003: Surrey has an estimated 4,500 active indoor marijuana grow-ops.