Looking Back: Memorial Peace Park

Let’s go on an adventure.  As most of us are not going on physical adventures at the moment we are going to use our imaginations, grab our time machine, and go on a time travel journey.  Imagine you are sitting in the bandstand at Memorial Peace Park, facing the ACT (east).  Better yet, if you are in need of a walk during this fine summer weather, take this article and read it in the bandstand itself. 

It’s 2020 and we are looking at our cultural centre.  Summer camp kids enjoying the park, city employees headed to Municipal Hall, people on their way to the leisure centre, or dropping books off at the library, taking in a show at the ACT or just enjoying a nice walk downtown. There might even be a movie filming or bard on the bandstand underway.     

Now let’s hop in our time machine and head all the way back to 2000, what do we see then? Sitting in the bandstand still we see that the ACT (c. 2003) and the Greg Moore Youth Centre (c. 2001) are not there.  The library (c. 2001) is the most nomadic institution along our journey with a new location in each time, and in the year 2000 it was housed in a building to your left where the Club 16 sits today.  Ahead of you to the left you see the same Municipal Hall and to your right you see the Leisure Centre. Ahead to your right you see Haney Place Mall. Behind you still sits the Cenotaph but it has moved further back towards 224th.  

Memorial Peace Park on May Day, 2003.
Opening day of the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park, 1994.

We jump back in our time machine and head to 1980. To the sounds of Pink Floyd and smells of polyester clothing, we are sitting on the grass now. The bandstand (c. 1994) is gone. Huge changes were underway in the last 20 years. The Municipal Hall (c. 1981), Leisure centre (c. 1981), library, and Haney Place Mall (c.1981) are now gone.  Ahead of you sits the Centennial complex that included the senior’s activity centre, arena, and library.  Ahead and to your right where Haney Place Mall would shortly be built, stands the old Haney Central Elementary where Douglas College is holding courses. You hear bull dozers and look ahead and to your left where the old McLean Secondary School and Centennial Pool sit, they are being torn down to make way for the building of the new Municipal Hall. Today’s picture shows the scene where we are currently looking. 

Memorial Peace Park with newly constructed Centennial Centre behind Cenotaph and with arena in the background, 1980.

Back in the time machine we make a small jump back to 1965.  That’s not just social change in the air, the park around you has changed even more.   Less concrete each time we jump, the park is thinning out. The Centennial Centre (c. 1967-1987) is gone and ahead to your left you hear the splashing and fun of kids playing in the Centennial Pool, with McLean Secondary at its side, now being used as the Public Safety Building.  Directly left you see a row of houses, private residences.  Haney Central Elementary ahead to your right is just letting out for the day. Back and to the right down 8th Ave. (224th Street) (current Walmart parking lot) you can see the Municipal Hall which also housed the library in a single room.  Behind you still stands the Cenotaph. This is a time between development stages.

Aerial view looking south from Dewdney down 224th to river, future spot of Memorial Peace Park highlighted, 1967

Leaving behind the Beatles and Beach Boys we head to 1950.  You find yourself sitting in the Aggie fair grounds, with the agricultural hall just in front of you and fair grounds surrounding.  To your left is the tallest building around, the Maple Ridge High School, which blocks your view of the now pool free McLean Secondary. Haney Central Elementary stands ever present to your right, but you are mostly surrounded by small businesses and little homes.  The Municipal Hall is out of sight, it currently sits in its original location on Callahan Street in Port Haney, with the library occupying its second floor. The Cenotaph is now gone, it is also in its original location at the entrance to Maple Ridge Cemetery along Dewdney Trunk. 

Cenotaph with Aggie Hall in the background, looking east, 1950’s after the Cenotaph moved to 224th.
Aerial view looking down between 224th and 225th Streets toward the Fraser River. The Aggie grounds/future spot of Memorial Peace Park highlighted, 1948.

Back in the time machine we head to 1930.  Almost no buildings to be seen, you have a strikingly clear view of the Golden Ears Mountains.  Ahead of you is the Aggie Hall and grounds, with McLean Secondary and Haney Central Elementary still there, but gone is Maple Ridge High School (c. 1941-1952) and most of the surrounding businesses and homes.  Around you are some scattered houses and farming plots.  South down Ontario Street (224th) you can see the steeple of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.  A bit distant to your right you can hear the clunky old machines at work building Lougheed Highway, which would be complete in 1931.

Aerial view of Port Haney and Haney Brick and Tile company. Future spot of Memorial Peace Park highlighted, 1929.

Jumping back to 1900 the Aggie Hall and Grounds (c. 1909), Haney Central Elementary (c. 1908), McLean Secondary (c. 1922), and St. Patrick’s (c. 1926-1952) are all gone and before you is mostly trees and a few very scattered farm plots.  This land is currently part of the 160 acres purchased by Thomas Haney.  The only sounds you hear are the birds and a farmer and his cart rumbling down the recently graveled Dewdney Trunk Road to your left.

A team of horses, man, and dog building the Dewdney Trunk Road. Future site of downtown and Memorial Peace Park somewhere in the trees behind him, 1909.

One more jump back to 1850 and we are standing, as we have been the whole time, in Katzie Territory.  Surrounded by trees, we sit on the land where the Katzie have lived, hunted, cultivated, and cherished for thousands and thousands of years. 

While there have been incredible changes over the years to this spot, anything from Shakespeare on the bandstand to livestock judging at the fair grounds, the Maple Ridge town centre has always been a place for gathering, culture, arts, entertainment, recreation and community pride.  Thanks for taking this time travel journey with me!

Shea Henry, published in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows NEWS Aug 14, 2020

Maple Ridge Museum will be closed June 25. Find us at Canadian Multiculturalism Day at Memorial Peace Park! Haney House will be closed June 26.
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