How much does one Surrey know about the other?

People on the streets here and abroad share their impressions of two different locales with the same name.

  • Nov. 20, 2013 3:00 p.m.

by Kevin Diakiw

A recent Leader poll of area residents indicated almost no one from Surrey knows how this city got its name.

(Spoiler alert: Surrey was named in 1879, when New Westminster municipal clerk H.J. Brewer gazed across the Fraser River and was reminded of his native land: Surrey, England. See the full story about Surrey’s history on page 15).

Several Surrey residents said the city got its name from an aboriginal word, some didn’t know, and one said it was named after “Mr. Surrey.”

Many Vancouver residents said this city got its name from somewhere in Britain, with some even able to indicate it was the county of Surrey, just south of London.

Patricia Hazelwood (who had a British accent) also noted correctly that the county also has a “Guildford” – just like the City of Surrey does.

Hazelwood described Surrey, England as the “stockbroker belt” that is very posh.

Grace Shearman, from Vancouver, guessed correctly this city was named after its British counterpart. She knows Surrey, England to be “where Harry Potter is from.”

She said Surrey, England has “as bad a rep as this Surrey (B.C.) has… Not a very nice place.”

City of Surrey employee Bryan Tasaka said correctly that Surrey was named after the county in England.

His impression of Surrey, England is that it’s pastoral and beautiful, with lots of castles.

Former Surrey Coun. Bob Bose said he believed Surrey was named after the county in England, but he couldn’t be sure.

Asked what that Surrey was like, he said he didn’t know.

“I may have gone through it on my bike once,” said Bose, who served the city for 28 years, some of those as mayor.

Current Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts was aware her city was named after the county of Surrey in England.

“From my understanding, it’s a fairly affluent part of England,” Watts said.

“And very similar in terms of the landscape (as this city).”


‘I’m afraid I haven’t hear of Surrey in Canada’

by Guy Martin

What do people in Surrey, England, know about a city of the same name in Canada? That was a question put to people in Dorking.

Teacher and environmental campaigner Sally Elias said: “I have a sister who lives in Alberta in Canada and I haven’t heard of a Surrey there. I’m surprised she hasn’t mentioned it.”

Dr. Lois Lodge has worked as an army doctor and for the United Nations, and said: “I’m afraid I haven’t heard of Surrey in Canada.”

Former politician, Canon Peter Bruinvels, said: “I thought we had a sort of twinning with Surrey in Canada.

“And we definitely have a connection to Canada in Dorking and Canadians do come over here. George Sinclair, who was the MP for Dorking, had a cousin, Margaret, who married Pierre Trudeau, the (former) prime minister of Canada.

“This is a truly rural part of Great Britain and Surrey over there has some rural parts as well,” Bruinvels added, and correctly said Surrey, B.C.’s council promotes the area as the City of Parks.

Caroline Salmon, a councillor and art gallery owner, said: “My sister lives in Toronto but she did live in Vancouver, and that’s a fantastic place. But I think around Vancouver there are some tough areas. I don’t think Surrey is quite as salubrious an area there as it is here.

“I remember going on the boat from Seattle to Vancouver so I must have gone past it. I’d say at the moment they would know Surrey here better than people here know Surrey in Canada.

“And we have roads in Surrey that were built by Canadians. They built Young Street, in Leatherhead, to get tanks around Leatherhead in the Second World War. Real locals call it the Canadian roads.

“I do find that part of Canada, around Vancouver and the Rockies, very inspiring for my art.”

Salmon’s husband Adrian Taylor, who runs a film and photography company, has a Canadian passport having lived there for more than 20 years, and knows about the other Surrey.

“I don’t think it has benefited from the massive improvement Vancouver has in the last 10 years,” he said.

“In that part of Canada it feels very British – a lot of the place names are the same and the topography looks more like England than anywhere else I’ve seen in North America, with the residential streets and Tudor-style houses.”

Also see:

• A tale of two Surreys

• What’s in a name?

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