Mary Jane Pope was born November 4th, 1856 in Cornwall, England. She married John Henry Laity, son of Thomas and Honor Rogers, on November 2nd, 1878 in Denver, Colorado. Later, they moved to Maple Ridge with their friends, the Hamptons, and established farms here.
Edmund Pope was Mary Jane’s younger brother by a decade. He appears to have been a lively scallywag who, despite having a wife and two children, managed to get himself into sufficient difficulty with the law that he had to leave England for Canada just ahead of being arrested. He got into further scrapes in eastern Canada before appealing to his older sister and her family for aid. They sent him enough to travel to Maple Ridge where they helped him get established.
He purchased some property just east of the Anglican Church – St. John the Divine – on River Road and sent for his wife and children.
In the New Westminster Columbian of October 23, 1888, it was reported that there had been a successful fund-raising “entertainment” at the Maple Ridge School. Mr. Pope was apparently an enthusiastic entertainer:
“The next was a solo, “The man behind the plough.” by Mr. Edmund Pope, who was encored; he sang a parody on “Grandfather’s clock” which took the house by storm.”
Further reports indicate that he was much valued as a baritone voice in all sorts of community entertainments.
Given his earlier brushes with the law, it is somewhat ironic that he became Maple Ridge’s first policeman. He did his rounds on horseback. In 1896, he was made superintendant of the cemetery and remained in that position for more than 40 years.
His daughter Edith married George Donahoe and the younger couple stayed on in the family home with her father until he passed away in 1944. She was very involved with the Anglican Church that was right next door and when she passed away, she left the family farm to the church. It was that addition of property that allowed St. John the Divine to be moved back from the edge of Laity Street to where it sits today.