The Surrey Historical Society will host a series of oral history workshops to preserve the history of Surrey pioneers and their descendants, starting in the fall of 2018.
Surrey Historical Society (SHS) is a non-profit organization that promotes awareness of Surrey’s history, advocates for the preservation of items of historical significance to Surrey and collects stories, photos, articles and more to add to the historical record.
Through the new “Community Stories Neighbourhood Outreach Project,” SHS hopes to provide Surrey seniors a chance to share their stories, and preserve their memories in a record that will be accessible to future generations. The project was made possible with a $3,780 cultural grant provided by the City of Surrey, which will cover half of the project’s total cost.
SHS President Michael Gibbs said that the sessions would also be an opportunity to refer community members with an interest in preserving history to city resources, and that the historical society would be willing to receive any letters, documents and artifacts that seniors wish to preserve. SHS would pass any received items or documentation on to either the city archives, museum or one of its libraries.
“[Seniors] have knowledge, family and personal knowledge, that they’ve wondered if anyone wants to hear,” said Gibbs. “They ask, does anybody care? Does anybody want this old box of letters?”
“There is definitely an interest, and value,” said Gibbs. “And [the stories and artifacts] will be respectfully put into the history of Surrey.”
The society invites families who have lived in Surrey for generations, and those who immigrated or moved to the city during the 20th century as well.
At least six workshops are scheduled, one for each town centre in Surrey — Whalley, Newton, Guildford, Fleetwood, Cloverdale and South Surrey.
The workshops will be held at a well-known historic site or in a community facility. A guest speaker will open the session with a short presentation on local history, and then participants would be invited to share their own experiences of living in the Surrey community. The sessions would be about three hours in length, and include anywhere from 20 to 40 people.
Gibbs said that the society would be “thrilled” if they recieved even two or three stories from each session — and, of course, that the society would welcome more.
The first workshop is scheduled to be held in North Surrey this fall.