Douglas College is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and that history includes roots in Surrey.
The city was once home to B.C.’s first all-prefabricated portable college campus, on 140th Street at 92nd Avenue.
The college’s Surrey Campus, intended to be temporary, was used in the years beyond 1981 when the fledgling Kwantlen College took over operations.
Douglas College archivist Max Otte did some digging about the college’s history in Surrey, and unearthed old photographs.
The snapshots were taken in 1970 as the campus was being constructed, and also just after it opened.
From 1970 to 1981, Douglas College served a large geographic area including the Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge school districts north of the Fraser River, and the Richmond, Delta, Surrey and Langley school districts to the south.
The Surrey Campus was opened in October 1970, and courses were also held at other sites in the city, including North Surrey United Church, Simon Cunningham School and Newton Centre.
Many students and instructors had to make long daily trips between Douglas College’s campuses in New Westminster, Surrey and Richmond, according to Otte.
In 1980, a decision was made to split Douglas College into two colleges – one for the north side of Fraser River, one for the south.
The Douglas College name was given to the institution on the north side. For the new college on the south side of the river, a contest was held to have the public submit suggestions for the name. Kwantlen was chosen in honour of the Indigenous people of the area.
At the time, Education Minister Brian Smith said: “It now seems imperative that this region be served by two colleges rather than just one in order to respond sensitively to this growth and to meet the needs of all students throughout the area in a more effective manner. The decision to split the college’s jurisdiction along the natural boundary of the Fraser River should serve the cause of education well in the future.”
The official date of the Douglas/Kwantlen split was April 1, 1981, when Kwantlen College took over operations of all campus locations south of the Fraser River, including a leased facility in Richmond and the 140th Street campus.
Tony Wilkinson was appointed president of Kwantlen College, and Bill Day held the same job at Douglas College.
This year, Cloverdale’s Bose Corn Maze was designed with a Douglas College logo to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
On Oct. 5, Douglas College said it is adding large-scale Indigenous art pieces to its New Westminster and Coquitlam campuses in commemoration of its 50th anniversary.
Gerry Sheena, a Coast Salish carver, is carving a traditional welcoming pole for the Coquitlam campus, and Coast Salish artist Carrielynn Victor is painting a mural in New West.
Douglas College (douglascollege.ca) is considered the largest degree-granting college in B.C., “combining the academic foundations of a university and the employer-ready skills of a college to provide the most relevant and inspiring undergraduate experience in British Columbia.”
Meantime, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, as Kwantlen College is now known, operates campuses in Newton, Richmond, Cloverdale, Whalley and Langley.