South Surrey resident Dave Keane with a copy of the May 13, 1931 edition of Surrey Leader. The newspaper has been saved and handed down by members of his family over the years. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

South Surrey resident Dave Keane with a copy of the May 13, 1931 edition of Surrey Leader. The newspaper has been saved and handed down by members of his family over the years. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

SURREY NOW & THEN: Family’s old ‘Leader’ newspaper offers a snapshot of Surrey life in May 1931

The day’s big headline was ‘Opening Ball Game at Cloverdale Friday’

Talk about old news.

Dave Keene has kept a copy of the Surrey Leader in his possession for decades, ever since the newspaper was given to him by his parents.

The yellowed, slightly tattered broadsheet, folded and stored in a letter-sized envelope, and now more than 91 years old, is dated May 13, 1931.

A South Surrey resident, Keene recently emailed the Now-Leader with a message: “I have a May 1931 original Surrey Leader newspaper. Is this something you’d be interested in having?”

Why, yes we would.

“In 1931 my dad would have been a student at White Rock school,” noted Keene.

“How or why he kept (the newspaper), I have no idea.”

Turns out, the four-page paper published a story written by Keene’s father, Jack, who documented a trip from White Rock to Powell River. Jack was 14 at the time, and earned the trip by “winning a contest of getting new subscribers for the Vancouver Sun company,” the newspaper reported.

Back then, a Leader subscription was $1 a year for delivery every Wednesday, from an office in Cloverdale, with G.W.A Smith in the editor’s chair.

Dead-centre on the front page is gossipy news from White Rock and Crescent Beach.

“Miss Mary Haddock and party of Vancouver spent Saturday at the Tingley Camp,” one item reads.

“William Gardiner and Edwin Rice spent a few days in Vancouver last week,” reads another.

The day’s big headline was “Opening Ball Game at Cloverdale Friday.”

Further down the front page is news that J.B. Sloan would stand trial on a charge of manslaughter in connection with the death of William Smith, 9. “According to evidence the Smith boy was struck by an automobile allegedly driven by the accused on the Pacific Highway, near the Nicomekl bridge, Cloverdale, about four o’clock on April 24th.”

Inside the paper, a five-room house in White Rock, located “only one block to the beach,” is advertised for $1,500.

The Hughes & McKenzie real estate company sold cheap lots and cottages in White Rock. “Only $10 cash and $10 a month buys Fine View Lot on Columbia Ave.,” their ad reads. “Full price, only $130.”

People could rent “a comfortable bungalow on New McLellan Road” for $15 a month.

An ad for the Ivan-L movie theatre, located across the border in Blaine, hyped showings of “A Connecticut Yankee,” starring Will Rogers.

The ninth-anniversary sale at Curtis Dry Goods featured “a good line of all-wool bathing suits,” which must have been comfortable for some.

Phone numbers are published as “24” and “63L” and other short alphanumeric combinations – not the 10-digit numbers we know today.

A postponed annual meeting of Surrey Board of Trade was finally held “in the Parr Block,” with officers elected.

Those involved in “motorcycle hillclimbing,” described as “the world’s strangest sport,” were set to compete at Coulthard’s Hill, at the Boundary Bay end of Scott Road.

Life was pretty different back then, Keene agreed.

“This newspaper proves that.”

Posted below are stories and ads published in the 1931 edition of the Leader.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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A closer look at the Surrey Leader newspaper of May 13, 1931.

A story in the Surrey Leader newspaper of May 13, 1931.

An ad in the Surrey Leader newspaper of May 13, 1931.

An ad in the Surrey Leader newspaper of May 13, 1931.