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Portrait of William Sr. and Esther Ansell, who settled here in 1887

William Ansell came to Webster’s Corners with his family in 1887 – when he was a boy nine years of age – with his parents Esther and William Sr.

William Jr. had two siblings, May and Herbert, and all three children grew up and married into local Maple Ridge families.  May married Gus Smith, who farmed a homestead near the family farm, and they had four children; Essie, Herbert, Arthur and Ida.  Herbert married a woman named Olive Weldon, and they had two children; Ruth and Richard.

William Jr. married Alberta Elizabeth Cook in 1903, always known by her nickname Birdie, who had been born in Pitt Meadows in 1880.  Their first child, Edith, was born in 1904.  Edith later had one sister, Myrtle, and five brothers; Laurence, Gordon, Arthur, Clarence and Louis.

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William and Birdie Ansell (nee Cook) with daughter Edith in 1908.

The Ansell family played a large part in the growth and development of the district.  William Ansell Sr., a founding member of the Maple Ridge Agricultural Association, served as Reeve for the district in 1902.  William Sr. and Esther Ansell both passed away in 1912.

William Jr. also had a life of public service, working at various times as a school trustee, police commissioner, council member, and reeve from 1917 to 1920.  This was in addition to his regular work as a poultry farmer who was also active in the Consumer’s Co-op of Webster’s Corners.

According to a copy of her certificate in the Maple Ridge Museum, young Edith Ansell received first rank in proficiency and deportment at Webster’s Corners School.  Edith grew up on the Ansell property at the southwest corner of Dewdney Trunk Road and 248th Street.  Her cousin Ruth Ansell served as organist at the Webster’s Corners Presbyterian [later United] Church on Dewdney Trunk Road for many years.

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Members of the Ansell family, with organist Ruth Ansell in the front centre, on the steps of the United Church in Webster’s Corners. The two older women are Mrs. Skyes and Mrs. Stanley. 1937 c

When Edith married in 1926, she chose Frederick Robert Kimberly Lilley, member of yet another pioneer family.  The Lilley farm included the land where Garibaldi High School and Blue Mountain School are now.  Kim, as he was always known, worked as a logger, and later a chicken farmer.  He also worked at road building.

Edith was a devoted gardener, using time honoured organic methods such as companion planting and soil building with compost and manure, long before these techniques again became fashionable.  Another hobby that she continued for many years was rug hooking.