Frank and Frances Zeron celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary at Albion Hall in 1975
Frank and Frances Zeron celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary at Albion Hall in 1975

George and Pearl Zeron emigrated to the Albion area from Manitoba.  Frank was born on February 14th, 1902, and George had to wade across the icy waters of Kanaka Creek to fetch the midwife.  At that time, there was no road or bridge.

When Frank started school in 1908, the six year old boy walked over a muddy road his father had recently helped build to a one-room schoolhouse situated on the west side of what is now 240th and 104th.  The 1910 school register lists 44 pupils, including Frank Zeron, under teacher Beatrice K. Loat.

When he was 14 years old, Frank got his first job in McKerchers shingle mill at the mouth of Kanaka Creek.  This job was followed by a short stint on a Fraser River tugboat.  He left this to  work for his future wife’s uncle, John Gaugler, in a meat market in Haney.  In those days the whole business area of Haney was located on River Road between 223rd and 224th Street.  One of Frank’s duties was to deliver meat once a week to the shingle-bolt cutters out at Stave Falls.  The return trip by horse and buggy via Dewdney Trunk Road took all day.

In 1919, David Spencer’s Ltd. of Vancouver bought 400 acres of land on Albion flats, not far from the Zeron home, including the present municipal fairgrounds.  Colonel Victor Spencer, the owner, purchased pure-bred Jersey cattle from the Isle of Jersey and operated the place as a dairy farm.  Frank went to work for Spencer and developed a lasting interest in cattle.

Frank Zeron in his grader in 1941
Frank Zeron in his grader in 1941

In 1933, Canada was in the midst of the Great Depression, and men were riding freight trains from coast to coast looking for work.  The government set up “Relief Camps” across the country to house and feed some of the masses of unemployed.  One such camp was established in Maple Ridge in the old Abernethy-Lougheed Logging Camp buildings on the Alouette River.  Frank got a job as foreman of the Relief Crew.  Not long afterwards the municipality purchased its first road grader and Reeve Mussallem asked Frank if he could run it.  Frank accepted without hesitation.  He’d never run one before, but it didn’t take him long to learn.

While there were no roads when Frank was born, he worked for 25 years grading, snow-ploughing, ditching, and helping build every road in Maple Ridge.  For years he was the envy of small boys who used to run out after school to watch the grader working nearby and stare in awe at Frank in his big machine.  Frank was promoted to Road Foreman and later to Road Superintendent.  He served 40 years with the municipality before he retired.

In 1923 the citizens of Albion wanted a place where they could gather for community activities.  Frank helped build the Albion Hall on 240th Street and was president of the Albion Community Association off and on for some 20 years.  He and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Albion Hall.  Frank and Frances had four children; Jack, Monica, Raymond and Theresa.