The early development of Surrey

BCER Station in Cloverdale, BC, taken in 1911.

Surrey, British Columbia, incorporated as a municipality in 1879, officially established as a city on September of 1993, is one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the Lower Mainland; it’s the province’s third largest city by area, and second-largest in population just after Vancouver. However, Surrey is expected to surpass Vancouver’s population by 2030.


There are six areas that are the town centres of the city: Guildford, Whalley/City Centre, Cloverdale, Fleetwood, South Surrey and Newton.


In the early history of Surrey, along the Fraser River, Crescent Beach and Campbell River were the well-established villages and settlements of the community, occupied by the European explorers, road-builders and settlers, with the Semiahmoo and Kwantlen First Nations people already settled for more than 6000 years. Most of the European settlers had quickly migrated into the region due to the mid-19th Century Fraser River Gold Rush.


heritage-overview1.jpgThe community had relied on the Campbell, Nicomekl and Serpentine Rivers as the inland routes for the trading and communication into and out of the area, also allowing connection between the various First Nations communities. Now, the city’s location is strategically located at the crossroads of the Pacific Rim, Metro Vancouver and the United States, allowing easy and convenient access to Vancouver International Airport, and putting them in the pathway of six major highways, railways and seaports, providing opportunities for transportation of goods and services internationally.


Early life in Surrey had centred on hunting and fishing, resources of shellfish and river supplies of salmon, herring and oolichans; shorelines and forests of birds, deer, elk and bear provided resources to support life in the delta of the Fraser River. As logging began, Surrey’s forests consisted of fir, cedar, spruce and hemlock, eventually cleared in order to create their farmland. Following Surrey’s agricultural expansion, dairy, vegetables, beef and hay were the major crops.


At the time Surrey was established as a municipality, the population was only less than 1,000 people, and was named Surrey by the first local municipal council clerk, HJ Brewer: “due to the geographic similarity of this district to that of County Surrey in England, in relation to Westminster, I suggest it be named Surrey, British Columbia,” he said. Surrey’s first city hall was built in 1881 and its first public school at Clover Valley in 1882.

Population estimates of Surrey, BC from 2005 to 2015.

Surrey’s population estimated growth from 2005-2015.

Surrey is one of the most diverse cities, according to the 2011 census, the total visible minority population was 243,760, 52.6% of the total population of 463,340 people.

Population projections of Surrey, BC from 2016-2046.

Surrey’s population projects from 2016-2046.

From Surrey’s start population at 1,000, there has been an incredible rise; the population according to a report on in 2015 is estimated to be at 516,650. The population is also projected to increase by over 300,000 people in the next three decades.


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