The Edge Family Legacy Project

Edge Peak, Edge Street, Edgewater bar, all destinations, some more distinct than others, all a part of our everyday life in Maple Ridge but what are the stories behind the names?

Museum Director Val Patenaude asked the Family History Group to research two questions: How are the Edge families of Maple Ridge and Langley related? Is William Edge who died at Derby during the Haney Landslide in 1880 related to Sam Edge who is credited as the first to climb Edge Peak on Golden Ears? The Edge project Group decided to answer a third question: what the Edge families contributed to Maple Ridge?

The group took on the task of searching through the records. Members tackled different types of records. After nine months of research the group completed The Edge Family Legacy Project in 2016. There is now a family tree of over 160 people backed up with census records, birth, marriage, and death records, an analysis of their directory listings, newspapers, headstones, dominion land files, military records, voters lists, and more. Most importantly we have uncovered some of the story of what drew the Edge family to Maple Ridge and what they did in the community.

The boards are best viewed in person and only represent a fraction of the research done by the group. These displays travel to family and local history events, contact the Maple Ridge Family History Group to see if the boards and members of the group are available to speak on the various topics explored by the projects.

Brothers William and Sam Edge and their families made their way to British Columbia in 1874, the same year the district of Maple Ridge was founded. They were drawn to BC by the opportunities of land available through the 1872 Dominion Lands Act.

The Canadian Pacific Railway was ten years off so William Edge and his family left Ontario and travelled to San Francisco by train, then took a ship to Victoria.

The project reminded us that Langley and Maple Ridge were once an integrated community. Today we think of the Fraser River as a divider but when the Edge families arrived it was a connector.

People rowed across the Fraser River on a daily basis to go to school in Maple Ridge, the riverfront properties had docks, they rowed across the river to collect their mail or to meet the train. The Edge family owned land on both sides.

The story as to which Sam Edge did what is a little more complex. The records do not make the distinction between Samuel Edge and his nephew Samuel Ephraim Edge. Collectively the Sams have been credited with the contracts to build the Anniedale, Port Kells, and South Lillooet schools.

One of the Sams helped Thomas Haney build Haney House. One or both of the Sams climbed what is now known as Edge peak. It is likely that Sam Sr. directed the crew of men who relocated St. John the Divine church from the Langley side of the Fraser at Derby to Maple Ridge. It seems plausible that the construction of many roads and bridges can be attributed to Sam Ephraim.

At minimum we have found a few more historic destinations.

In 1885 Mary Ann Edge, daughter of the first Sam Edge, signed a petition for women to be granted the right to vote.

Moving down a few generations, Vernon Edge was a First World War veteran. He brought back a war bride from England. Vernon became a Land Surveyor and set up an office that became a part of J.M.C. Wade & Associates and is still in operation today.

We learned how the Edge family was interconnected with other pioneering Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows families and reinforced our belief that family history is community history.

And then, of course, there was the tragedy.

Many Maple Ridge residents have heard of the Haney Slide that occurred in the winter of 1880 and the death of William Edge but we did not know many details. The papers reported a sound like a heavy cannon and a gigantic 70 foot wave of water, ice and debris, essentially the height of a 6 storey apartment block, “demolishing and conquering everything in its course.”

Sadly, William Edge was one of the things in its course. William was working on the Langley side when he was hit by the wave and “thrown against trees, stumps, etc. and when found was unconscious.” He suffered serious internal injuries and died four days later leaving behind his wife and eight children.

The place in Derby where he was severely injured is a geocache site. The slide area is just west of St. Andrews Hall and bounded on the north edge by Cliff Ave. You can actually feel the boundary of the west edge of the slide crater as you descend River Road from Carshill St. heading East toward Port Haney Station.

Two more distinctive destinations.

Most importantly we have uncovered some of the story of what drew the Edge family to Maple Ridge and what they did in the community. We hope that you feel a little more connected to the destinations around us and the people for whom they are named.