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“New” Recreation Centre Official Opened - 1966

The official opening of the Mission City & District Recreation Centre – formerly known as the” Old Mission Armouries” – took place in March of 1966. The event was marked with a teen dance that was jointly sponsored by the Mission City & District Recreation Commission and the "Mission City Fire Brigade."

The local newspaper – the Fraser Valley Record – reported: “Center is filling an important need in the community with weekly sessions of junior and senior badminton the principal activities. Art classes have started, air cadets continue to use the facilities for weekly parades and several organizations are using or are planning to the facilities.” (March 16, 1966:1)

First Avenue & Horne Street, 1958

Taken 62 years ago this month, the posted photograph of the corner of Horne Street and First Avenue looking west shows how much the street scape has changed. In the foreground, Desbrisay’s Department Store (est. 1909) on the left is now the site of the Petro-Canada Service Station and across the street, the Shell Gas Station is now Tim Horton’s.

The street pole banner adjacent to the gas station documents a major event once held in Mission – the original Soap Box Derby (1946-1973) which grew to become the Western Canada Soap Box Derby Championship (1957-1973) that brought thousands of visitors to Mission.
New Home for Canadian Bank of Commerce, 1947

In the May 15th issue of the Fraser Valley Record the front page featured an article titled “Over Half Million in Construction Underway Here” along with photographs of eleven projects underway.

This building boom included the construction of new premises for the Canadian Bank of Commerce. It first opened in 1907 in temporary quarters on northeast corner for First Avenue and Welton – the present day location of the Scotia Bank - while a permanent building was being erected on First Avenue, adjacent to the first Municipal Hall.

With the easing of building restrictions in 1946, the bank was finally able to move forward with its plans for new enlarged premises to better serve their clientele. The second building was donated to the community and moved to the top of Welton and Second where it was used as a library (1947-1972) and subsequently the museum.

The new bank was constructed on the same site as the second building. Construction was delayed, however, due to “post-war shortages” and so it did not opened until August 18th, 1947. Reeve A.B. Catherwood made the first deposit at the opening ceremonies, donating five dollars to the Mission & District Agricultural Association. (SOURCE: Fraser Valley Record February 27, 1957).

The posted photograph shows the bank under construction. On the left side, you can see Mission’s original municipal hall (renovated in the 1950s) that still stands today. FB_IMG_1587372213731.jpg
BLAST FROM THE PAST – The Past Meets the Present
Deserted Derby Track, 1974

For 28 years, Mission was known far and wide as “derby town.” From its modest beginnings as a “wildcat race” in 1946, the annual event grew in stature and size with entrants from all over western Canada competing for the coveted championship trophy. In 1958, for example, an estimated 10,000 people attended filling the grandstands.

The posted photograph of the partially dismantled grandstand dated April 1974 “bear witness to the end of the Western Soap Box Derby in Mission.” On December 31st, 1973, Mission’s soap box derby franchise ended and organizers announced in January of the following year, the annual event would no longer be held. The grandeur and evidence of this once major event is preserved at the Community Archives through the records of Jimmy Gunn, the founder of the derby; Bert Clifford, local photographer; the Western Canadian Soap Box Derby Association and our local newspaper. (SOURCE: Fraser Valley Record, April 17, 1974).
BLAST FROM THE PAST – The Past Meets the Present
1913 Licence Plate Unearthed

In 1974 while digging out a crawl space to install some electric wiring in his house on Third Avenue, Bill Croy of Mission discovered a well-preserved relic dating back to 1913 – a deep royal blue enameled licence plate with white lettering “almost one-tenth of an inch thick”!

Bill contacted the Archives in Victoria to see if there was any information about his find and found out that the plate was registered to a George Sweeney of Washington Street (known today as First Avenue) for an Everett-Metzger-Flanders – the “predecessor to the Studebaker.” The car was registered again in 1914 and 1915, however, the records ended there.

Through the Archives in Victoria, Bill also found out that; “Mission has a grant total of 119 passenger cars and 42 commercial vehicles registered in 1922, the first year on record in the archives.” (SOURCE: Fraser Valley Record, April 24, 1974).
Steelhead General Store & Post Office, c1919

The posted photograph is of the first Steelhead Post Office & Store located at the corner of Dewdney & Cardinal in approximately 1919. At the time it was owned and operated by Charles and Harriet Hussey who came to the area with their daughter Kathleen in 1916, two years after arriving in Canada.

According to Kathleen, when the war was over the postmistress left and her mother took over and held the position for over 30 years. Her parents purchased the general store and living-quarters constructed of huge logs. Within a few years, the Hussey’s built a new store and held a grand opening for it in May of 1921. Watch for a future posts about the Hussey family – pioneers of Steelhead.
Percy Routledge’s Model Steam Engine

The posted image is of pioneer Art Plumridge (1899-1996) admiring the model steam engine built by local pioneer and inventor Percy Routledge (1892-1953). An actual working model, the engine was constructed in 1927 and donated by members of Percy’s family to the Mission Museum in 1975.

Percy is also credited with building the community's first auto-wrecker on a 1917 four cylinder Cadillac frame, a logging locomotive for a mill, the first public drinking fountain (1929) on today's First Avenue and the community's first ambulance (1932). You may view the model steam engine at the Mission Museum. FB_IMG_1587373389189.jpg
Golder’s Green Camp – Auto Park – c 1930s

The posted image of the Golder’s Green Camp / Golder’s Auto Park is among the priceless postcards in the Carl Klenk Postcard collection housed in the Community Archives. According to a handwritten note on the reverse of the card by Carl, the business was located on the north-west corner of Wren and the old Silverdale Road – today’s Silverdale Avenue.

Owned by an E. S. Golder, the camp and park was located on 125 acres. The amenities included: cabins and tent space both in shade and the open; electric light; covered and screened tables; gas and oil; running water and camp kitchen; shower and bath; a store and games. There was also “Parking for One Meal with Hot Water” for 25 cents.
BLAST FROM THE PAST – Mission’s Memorable 40s
Mission’s First Official Soap Box Derby, 1947

Mission’s soap box derby began as a “wildcat race” that was held in conjunction with the first annual Strawberry Festival in 1946. Eight boys competed in the race which was held on First Avenue. The following year Jimmy Gunn, founder and organizer of the derby successfully applied for a franchise from the American Soap Box Derby Committee establishing Mission as one of two official derby competitions in Canada. There were two categories for contestants: Class A-10 to 12 years of age; and Class B-13 to 16 years of age. The winner of each raced for the coveted title of “Soap Box Derby Champion” and then the victor travelled to Akron, Ohio where they competed for the Canadian, All-American and International Championships.

The posted photograph was taken in front of the Mission Police Station on Welton Street – current location of Welton Towers – to promote Mission’s new affiliation with the All-American and International Soap Box Derby in the spring of 1947. Standing centre back is Jimmy Gunn, the founder and organizer of Mission’s derby and on the far right in the front row is Lorne Nicholson who was Mission’s first champion to compete in the All-American and International Soap ‘box Derby in Akron, Ohio.
Mission’s Soap Box Derby - 1952

Mission’s first known soap box derby was a wildcat race held in conjunction with the 1st annual Mission Strawberry Festival in 1946. The following year Jimmy Gunn, founder and organizer of the derby, successfully applied for a franchise from the American Soap box Derby Committee establishing Mission as one of two official derby competitions in Canada.

The derby underwent significant changes in the second decade. In 1950, the event expanded into a province-wide competitions, making it the only provincial championship in Canada and the following year the date of the race was changed from the month of June to July.

Dated 1952, the posted photograph shows the BC Soap Box Derby entrants lined up on what was once called “Legion Hill” prior to the race on First Avenue. There were 100 entrants representing 32 communities in the competition that year.

A permanent derby track was built on the grounds of Leisure Centre in 1953 so this was the last year the race was held on First Avenue until it was revived in 1999. The Community Archives houses extensive records documenting the original derby (1946-1973) which grew to become the Western Canada Soap Box Derby Championship (1957-1973). FB_IMG_1587374558783.jpg
Percy Routledge’s Miniature Train
Local entrepreneur and inventor, Percy Routledge designed and constructed a working scale model train. Completed in 1941, the miniature train had a steam locomotive with the number 41 painted on the side, a coal tender and passenger cars.
Tracks were set up to operate the train at the popular Swan’s Point on Hatzic Island. It is claimed that during its first year of operation, the train travelled over 3,500 miles. Percy used the proceeds from ticket sales to support the Red Cross during World War II.
Following the establishment of the Mission Strawberry Festival in 1946, temporary train tracks were set up on First Avenue where for several years people could ride the “Strawberry Special” during the event.
At some point the train was moved to another location on Hatzic Island called Everglades where it was in service for a couple of years before being sold by Percy.
As for Percy’s other inventions – he is credited with building the community’s first auto-wrecker on a 1917 four cylinder Cadillac frame, a logging locomotive for a mill, the first public drinking fountain (1929) on today’s First Avenue, and the community’s first ambulance (1932). FB_IMG_1587374747967.jpg
The posted photograph shows Percy driving his train in the 1940s.
Mission Labour Day Celebrations - 1930
In 1930, Mission celebrated Labour Day on September 1st by the holding the Caledonian Highland Games at the Fair Grounds (present day site of the Mission Leisure Centre).
The event attracted “many lads and lassies in kilt and plaids, who had journeyed from Vancouver, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Hammond, Port Haney, Ruskin, Matsqui, Agassiz and other points” to compete in various events: including “piping,” “throwing a 16 lb hammer,” “Tossing the Caber,” “Highland Fling,” “Strathspeys and Reels,” and “High Jump.” (Fraser Valley Record, September 4, 1930:1)
The posted photograph shows the spectators watching Scottish bands piping and drumming.
Corner of First & Grand Over the Decades - 1934

Five years after being paved (1929) and two following the adoption of a new name (1932), Main Street was firmly established as the main commercial centre in Mission. This view of Grand Avenue and Main (today’s First Avenue) Street was taken from the “Legion Hill” in 1934. It includes two gas stations (on left) within a short distance of each other, opened to serve the increasing number of local residents with motor vehicles.
FB_IMG_1587377341915.jpg Nicomen Supply Store & Post Office, 1900s
The Nicomen Supply Store & Post Office was operated by Charles John Cooper who served as the postmaster for Nicomen and Deroche from 1903 until his retirement in 1946. Included in the posted photograph is Mr. Cooper with his wife, Louisa and their children in their car in front of the store. According to the history of the area compiled by the Nicomen’s Island’s Women Institute, all the buildings were destroyed by a devastating fire in 1917.
"Summer Fun"
Swan’s Point Popular Summer Resort - 1947
In 1933, William “Bill” Swan – a veteran of World War I and II - and his wife Lena converted their berry farm into an 8 acre park that they called Swan’s Point. Located on the north end of Hatzic Lake, the park grew into a popular summer resort in the Fraser Valley as well as the Lower Mainland.
When the Swans sold their property in 1946, they had built up the facilities to include: “25 row boats, a bathhouse, eight cabins ranging from one to three rooms in size and a larger building popular with organized groups” as well as the orchard as a picnic ground (SOURCE: Fraser Valley Record: April 4, 1946).
The old Bedspring / Williams Creek Canyon Suspension Bridge on the old Shawnigan Lake to Port Renfew Road in the 60`s, 70`s and 80`s that many of you will remember. It was 200 feet up from the canyon floor below and would move around like crazy while you drove over it!
This is on Vancouver Island, in BC.and they drove loaded logging trucks over this bridge on a daily basis.😯
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