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History of Surrey

people dressed up in costumes

Early life in Surrey

When European explorers, road-builders, loggers and settlers first came to this area, the Semiahmoo and Kwantlen First Nations People had already been here for more than 6000 years. The settlements along the mouth of the Fraser River, at Crescent Beach, at the mouth of the Campbell River and in the north along the sheltered bends of the Fraser River were well established villages and temporary or seasonal settlements.

Community life centred on

  • hunting and fishing
  • tidal resources of shellfish
  • river supplies of salmon, herring, and oolichans.

Shorelines and forests of birds, deer, elk and bear provided resources to support life in the delta of the Fraser River.

The Campbell, Nicomekl and Serpentine Rivers were the inland routes used for trading and communication. The coastal waterways connected the First Nations to the surrounding communities.

History of Surrey's people

Surrey was incorporated in 1879. We have a rich history of people with diverse ethnic backgrounds, who've come together to make us one of BC's most unique communities.

Settlement in Surrey

The land was forests of fir, cedar and hemlock, basically untouched. Logging began, the land was cleared, settlement took place and Surrey started to take shape.

As you drive throughout the city, notice heritage markers bearing the names of the early settlers to the area such as Johnston Road, Sullivan Station and Hjorth Road.

Surrey, one of the fastest growing major cities in Canada, is strategically located at the crossroads of the Pacific Rim, Metro Vancouver and the United States. Easy and convenient access to Vancouver International Airport, two international border crossings into the U.S.A., an excellent transportation network including six major highways, rail and deep sea port provide an ideal opportunity for transportation of goods and services worldwide - a network essential to the demands of a vibrant city and its growing business sector.

Surrey becomes a City

In September of 1993, Surrey officially became a city. Since then, we've had tremendous change and growth, and our overall quality of life has risen to impressive heights.

Our City Council is committed to providing its residents, through initiatives such as Safe and Clean City, Active City, Adopt-A-Street and Block Watch, a great community in which to live, work and play.

Surrey's 6 town centres

Six town centres combine to make the City of Surrey -

  • North Surrey
  • Newton
  • Fleetwood
  • Guildford
  • Cloverdale and
  • South Surrey.

Each has its own distinct features and attributes. Approximately 1000 new residents each month continue to make Surrey their home. Currently the second largest city in British Columbia, with a population over 452,000 , Surrey is expected to become the largest, surpassing the City of Vancouver's population within 10 years.

Around 35% of our land is designated as agricultural, and is still being actively farmed today. We've also got an additional 2300 hectares of park and open space.

Surrey offers its residents many recreational amenities and cultural facilities from athletic parks to community centres to museums. There are 2 major rivers running through Surrey, the Nicomekl and Serpentine, each carving out integral lines throughout the city's past, present and its future. From forest reserves to agricultural land, from urban to industrial areas, and from beach fronts to mountain vistas, we've maintained our connection to our roots.

Learn more about Surrey's history at the Surrey Museum.

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