The Owen home in Albion in 1972.
The Owen home in Albion in 1972.

John Owen was born in Wales.  When he came to Canada, he met and married Mary Martin, who was born in Ontario in December of 1861.  They had three children before coming to Maple Ridge; Lillie Ellen, Thomas John, and William (Bill) John.

John and Mary Owen homesteaded in the Whonnock Lake area in 1888.  In 1903, John purchased riverfront property in Albion just west of where the Albion Ferry landing is located.  The property was purchased from August Baker, another Albion pioneer.

The Owen family expanded to include eleven children (four girls and seven boys), one of whom was lost in infancy.  The eight born in Maple Ridge were Mary, George, Frank, Charlie, Norm, Minnie, Ethel and Arthur Gordon.  Only a year after coming to Albion, John Owen drowned in a tragic accident.  Mary was left a widow with ten children, the youngest only 2 months old.  The older boys had to leave school in order to help their mother run the farm and make a living.

William Owen; captain of the “Fort Langley” at Albion circa 1920.
William Owen; captain of the “Fort Langley” at Albion circa 1920.

The family not only survived, but went on to contribute a great deal to Albion and the surrounding area.  Three of the best known Owens were Charlie, George and Norm.  These three went off to World War I and returned alive, though all had suffered terrible wounds.

After the war, Charlie Owen worked for Spencer’s Dairy farm raising prize cattle.  During that time he was instrumental, along with his brother George, in the planning and building of Albion Hall.  Charlie then became a truck driver delivering cordwood, and later, a commercial fisherman; a career that continued until his death at age 97.

George had a varied life pursuing careers as a farmer, carpenter, writer, architect, and draftsman.  George was commissioned to draw up the plans for the Albion Community Hall in 1922.  He never married and occupied the family home until his death in 1991 at the age of 99.  Like his brothers, he worked right to the end.

P04741Norm Owen, who lost his right arm in WWI, is remembered most as the owner of the Maple Ridge Hotel.  However, as a somewhat younger man, he was often referred to as Mr. Baseball for his dedication to the sport, particularly the Little League.  He was a guiding light behind the building of Hammond Stadium in the 1950s.  He never retired, though sons Gerry and Marv joined him in the hotel business.  Norm Owen passed away in 1994 at the age of 96.