Surrey stretches from the Fraser River along Vancouver’s southeast, south to Boundary Bay and the U.S. border. It is sandwiched between Langley to the east and Delta to the west. The City of Surrey, “The City of Parks,” boasts a relaxed lifestyle, with more than 400 parks encompassing more than 3,000 acres, many of which are in their natural state. With 371 square km, Surrey is also the largest city in BC’s Lower Mainland and the second largest in population at 350,000 people. The city takes its name from Surrey, England.
Surrey used to be mostly rural, with some environmentally important areas, like Mud Bay. Its rural lifestyle is still reflected in the Cloverdale Rodeo (“rated No. 1 in North America”) and great antique shopping in the Cloverdale area. Surrey incorporates five townships, each with its pockets of people: Whalley in the northwest, Guildford (which is the center of business), South Surrey (also known as Sunnyside, with its beaches), Newton and Cloverdale.
Surrey is in close proximity to five major highways, four railways, deep-sea docking facilities and an international airport. The Skytrain rapid transit line means Vancouver is less than 35 minutes away via public transit
Surrey was mostly occupied by trappers, squatters and drifters, until its first settler, James Kennedy, arrived in 1861, buying a pile of land for $1 an acre. It was incorporated in 1869 with under 1,000 residents of 200 square km. The Cloverdale area was first settled around 1870 by the Shannon brothers, Joseph, William, and Thomas, and was named the “Clover Valley” after the wild clover growing everywhere.
Surrey’s first city hall, built in 1881, is now part of the Centennial Museum. When the New Westminster-Southern Railway linked Bellingham and New Westminster in 1891, a station was built near the present town center and given the name “Cloverdale”. Cloverdale became a major transportation centre, with three railways running through it in its heyday (two are still in operation today).
In 1883, the ferry “K de K” began to cross the Fraser River from Brownsville to New Westminster. Logging became the main industry and the cleared lands opened excellent farmland, and in 1888, Surrey had its first agricultural fair. The New Westminster-southern Railway was built in 1891, the first two telephone agents (where people could use the telephones for a fee) opened in 1885, and the first newspaper “The Surrey Times” which appeared in 1895.
In 1904, the Fraser River Bridge was built, and road links between communities grew stronger. The Cloverdale are experienced a major land boom in 1910-1911, and many of the buildings in the downtown core date from this period. In 1923, the Pacific Highway (176 Street) from Bellingham to New Westminster was paved, and it became the main highway connecting the lower mainland with Washington State. In 1925 Harry Whalley opened a gas station where the King George Highway now meets 108th Avenue, now known as Whalley’s Corner. In 1945, the first Cloverdale Rodeo was held with the slogan “The West Goes Wilder”. Today it has grown to be the second largest rodeo in Canada, second only to the Calgary Stampede.
In the 1940s, as Vancouver’s housing price climbed quickly, Surrey also grew. This continued into the fifties and sixties saw continued growth and change, including the incorporation of White Rock as a city. Surrey became a city in 1993.
Annual festivals, events
Colverdale Rodeo (May), Surrey Fall Fair
(mid-Sept), Surrey Hydrangea Blossom Festival (August), Harness Racing (Oct-April).
Here are the most popular attractions in Surrey (Map; other nearby attractions):
Bear Creek Park Train
Surrey, 13750 – 88th Avenue
Eddy the Engine and Chough the steam locomotive operate on a 15 inch narrow gauge track. Travel the woods of Bear Creek Park, into the magical tunnel, onto the forest of giant cottonwood trees, ending up at the station and gift shop. Open daily from 10 am, year around.
Canadian Museum of Flight and Transportation
13527 Crecent Road (South Surrey)
This 6.5 hectare park features 38 aircraft from the 1920s to the present, including many restored World War II and early Canadian craft. Open late April to late October.
Cloverdale Fairgrounds and Cloverdale Rodeo
6050 – 176th Street at 60 Ave. in Cloverdale
The grounds host harness racing Oct – May, and the Cloverdale Rodeo on the Victoria Day weekend in May. The Stetson Bowl seats an audience of 7,000, who watch over 500 rodeo entries. Rodeo events include calf roping, steer wrestling, wild horse racing, ladies’ barrel racing, wild cow milking. Pancake breakfasts are served on the fairgrounds during the rodeo.
Chandos Pattison Auditorium
10238 168th St, Surrey.
A 1500 seat rental facility designed for many different types of events including dance recitals, corporate events and conferences, all types of theatre, concerts. Check their calendar of events
Crescent Beach and Blackie Spit
Crescent Road to Beecher Street and continue to the water. Since after the turn of the last century, this was a vacation area at the west end of the Semiahmoo Peninsula, was centred around a pier at the foot of Beecher Street. The sandy beach, warm, protected waters, in the swimming areas, and tidal pools are wonderful for playing and building sand castles. The community features a variety of unique shops and restaurants make it a nice excursion.
Historical Stewart Farmhouse & Hooser Weaving Centre
13723 Crecent Road (South Surrey, in the Elgin Heritage Park on the banks of the Nicomekl River.)
This Victorian-style farmhouse built in 1894 by the Stewart family, who lived in the home and farmed the surrounding land for 6 decades. The Weaving Centres are run by the Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild, with displays open in June of each year.
Newton Wave Pool
13730 – 72 Ave
This aquatic centre features a 38 metre pool with two 60 metre (180 ft) waterslides, a hydro pool, steam room, children’s pool, a lounge and concessions.
Redwood Park Arboretum
180th Street and 20th Avenue, near US border
This 32-hectare Surrey park is rich in exotic trees grown from seedlings from around the world. The park was started by twin brothers, Peter and David Brown, on land given to them by their father on their 21st birthday in 1893. They began systematic replanting of the clear-cut hilltop. They built themselves a treehouse in it so they could be away from the rest of the world. The park has an upgraded “replica” of the treehouse.
Surrey Art Gallery
13750 – 88 Avenue
The Surrey Art Gallery is the third largest gallery in British Columbia, and features changing exhibitions of local, national and international contemporary art.
Surrey Museum & Archives
6022 – 176th Street
Explore contemporary issues of Surrey’s past, directly from the words of pioneers and long-time residents.The Museum features exhibits of a selection of 5,000 year old stone tools created by area Indigenous
first nations. It also houses Surrey’s 1881 Town Hall, and recreations of the interiors of turn-of-the-century homes and businesses.
Here are the most popular parks in Surrey, From North to South (see other area parks):
Bear Creek Park
(88th Avenue & King George Hwy)
This park is popular with a wide range of locals. For families it has picnic facilities, washrooms, a playground, a water playground, a youth park, and the Bear Creek Minature Train. For more athletic types, it has an outdoor pool, trails, a fitness circuit, a grass soccer field, a football field. The park is also home to the Centennial Arts Centre.
Green Timbers Forest Reserve
(100th Avenue & 148th Street)
This 400 hectare park is the largest park land in Surrey. Even thought he park is intersected by the Fraser highway (1A) and 96 Avenue, the expanse of green space returns sanity to city living. Its forest lands are connected with a network of trails and a boardwalk, including around Green Timbers Lake. The park is also the trail head for the Green Timbers/Tynehead Multi-Use Pathway.
(154th Street & 80th Avenue)
This Park, which adjoins the Fleetwood Park High School is a popular recreational destination for the ear. Fleetwood attracts families with its picnic facilities, water playground, playground and blacktop play areas. For recreational users there are ball diamonds, and all-weather soccer field, a grass soccer field, trails, and tennis courts.
Tynehead Regional Park
(168th Street & 96th Avenue)
Tynehead’s 260 hectares of rolling meadow and forest are easily accessible to residents of North Surrey. Forests contain a mix the deciduous trees and shrubs, including some orchard trees, with pockets of conifers. Scenic trails meander through the park, some winding along the Serpentine River. The headwaters are located in the Serpentine Hollow picnic area, and provide spawning habitat for salmon and trout, which began their lives at the Tynehead Hatchery, at the southern edge park’s boundary alongside the Serpentine River.
Newton Athletic Park
(74th Avenue & 128th Street)
This park is the athletic focal point of Newton. There is a playground, an outdoor games court, fitness circuit, tennis courts, ball diamonds, an all-weather soccer field, grass soccer field, and a football / rugby field. Pretty well something for everyone
Cloverdale Athletic Park
(64th Avenue & 168th Street)
This park is the athletic focal point of Cloverdale. The park has tennis courts, ball diamonds, an all-weather soccer field, a grass soccer field, a football field, and a practice field. For families, the park also has a playground, a picnic shelter, and a water spray park.
Blackie Spit and Crescent Beach
(McBride Avenue & Wickson Road)
These two parks are the beach worshippers heaven in Surrey, lying on Boundary Bay. For the active beach-goer, there are tennis courts, picnic areas, bird watching, nature trails, and community gardens. There is even a pier into the Bay for fishing and just enjoying the view.
(26th Avenue & 132nd Street)
This park is the inland focal point of Crescent Beach. The park has something for everyone including: picnic facilities, a playground, walking trails, a fitness circuit, tennis courts, ball diamonds, a grass soccer field, a football / rugby field, and bridle trails.
South Surrey Athletic Park
(20th Avenue & 148th Street)
The park has extensive recreational facilities including: a rugby field, football field, softball and baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a skateboard park, tennis courts, and nature trails. It is also home to the South Surrey Arena, South Surrey Community Recreation Centre, and the South Surrey Youth Centre .
White Rock’s West Beach
(Marine Drive, White Rock)
This is BC’s best beach! There are wide beige sand flats when the tide goes out, and is a popular place for building sand castles. The beach faces South, giving it daylong sun for working on that tan (but PLEASE use sunscreen!).
(20th Avenue & 179th Street, near US Border)
This 32-hectare Surrey park is rich in exotic trees grown from seedlings from around the world. The park was started in 1893 by twin brothers, Peter and David Brown, on land given to them by their father on their 21st birthdays. They replanted the clear-cut hilltop, and even built themselves a treehouse.
Peace Arch Provincial Park
(“0” Avenue & 168th Street, on the US Border)
This park is famous for its Peace Arch monument to peace along the “longest undefended border in the world” between Canada and the USA.