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Real Surrey Pioneers

The Re-Enactors posing at the Surrey Archives

Who Were These Characters?

The characters portrayed by the Re-Enactors were real people who lived in our very own city. While developing each character, facts and stories were gathered from the Surrey Archives' collections and the oral histories. The result is historically accurate characters from 1872 to 1945 brought to life by gifted actors. For more information and photographs about each character portrayed by the Re-Enactors, contact the Surrey Archives at 604-502-6459.

Eric Anderson, Portrayed by *Ryan Haneman

Eric Anderson made his way to Canada from Sweden on a whaling ship. As the ship’s carpenter, he was sent ashore in New Westminster to get supplies for repairs to the ship.

Upon seeing how beautiful Canada was, he left the ship and crossed the Fraser River to settle in Surrey.  Beginning as a humble farmhand, he eventually owned enough land to sell a parcel to the BC Electric Railway for a nice profit before retiring comfortably.

 

Zennosuke Inouye, Portrayed by *Kevin Takahide Lee

He was a prominent Surrey businessman, chauffeur, and veteran of World War I.  After the war, he purchased 80 acres of land in Strawberry Hills through the Soldier’s Settlement Board and built a pioneer homestead. He was President of the Surrey Berry Growers' Association and a volunteer at the Japanese Language School.

During World War II, he and his family endured the hardship of the internment camps and the repossession of his farmland, profitable business and home.  He wrote 80 letters to  government offices and ministers, fighting to regain his land. He is the only Japanese Canadian war veteran to have his land returned to him.

Elsie Ivy Marshall, Portrayed by Kaitlin Williams

Born in Kent, England in 1904, she and her family immigrated to Manitoba in 1907, then settled in South Westminster, Surrey. In 1910, the Marshalls built a home at the foot of the hill on Old Yale Road. It was one of the first homes in the area to have electricity and indoor plumbing.

As a youth Elsie often accompanied her father in their Democrat Wagon to the exhibitions at Surrey Centre and New Westminster to show her sheep. She worked on the family farm until her father sent her to business school.

Mary Jane Shannon, Portrayed by *Sara Holt

She began her life as a student in the first Surrey school, established by her father, Thomas Shannon and a few others. After teaching in the wilds of Cariboo Country, she would return to Cloverdale to become the teacher at her old school.

Miss Shannon was a remarkable woman who had a zest for life and learning. She left her teaching post to pursue a career in nursing and eventually became a Nursing Trainer for nurses bound for overseas service. Always one for adventure, she studied writing in New York after World War II and spent her later years writing her Cariboo Tales.

TJ Sullivan, Portrayed by *Vince Metcalfe

TJ Sullivan joined his brother in Surrey to set up a sawmill in 1903, but was drawn into local politics as a way to help improve his community.  He was elected Reeve of Surrey, a position he held for 10 years. He had a hand in the construction of the 1912 Municipal Hall and the Peace Arch.

One of his greatest achievements was as a Commissioner of the Surrey Dyking District, which built concrete dams at the mouth of the Nicomekl and Serpentine Rivers to control tidal waters, reclaiming 130,000 acres of farmland.

Dr. Frederick Sinclair, Portrayed by *Doug Cameron

As the only Doctor in the Municipality of Surrey for almost 40 years, Doc Sinclair delivered most of the babies in the area and then followed up with them by organizing yearly school visits for immunization and check-ups.

Doctor Sinclair and his wife Isobel were instrumental in founding the Victorian Order of Nurses in Surrey. He also fulfilled the duties of the Medical Health Officer and was a driving force in the creation  the Surrey Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Surrey Memorial Hospital.  His was the largest funeral ever held in Surrey.

Sarjit 'Mac' Singh, Portrayed by *Mohit Anand

A trailblazing South Asian Surrey resident who owned Cloverdale Produce and was integral to many community initiatives, he is a respected individual throughout Surrey.  Stories of him are still told regularly. Singh challenged race barriers both personally and professionally his entire life. He was one of the first South Asian Surrey residents to own a commercial farming operation and was an advisor to the Minister of Agriculture.

 

 

*The participation of these Artists are arranged by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association under the provisions of the Dance • Opera • Theatre Policy.