Our History - Historic Stewart Farm
Who Were the Stewarts?
John Stewart was born on Island of Arron, Scotland in 1844. The Stewart family moved to Quebec in the early 1850s. He and his two brothers, Finlay and Donald, worked in the Redwood Forest in California from 1872-1880. Returning to Canada with his savings, John purchased a farm on Mud Bay from Samuel Hardy. He married Annie Davidson on October 9, 1884 in Nanaimo. She was born in Quebec in 1852.
The Stewarts had two children, William James and John Massey. In a time when farm owners had many children to help on the farm, the Stewarts were an exception. The beauty of the farmhouse creates picture of wealth and luxury, but it was actually a modest home for the time period. The Stewarts were middle class, hardworking hay farmers.
There are just a few photos of the house and family from 1890-1910. Knowing general trends, issues and the way of life of the surrounding community helps us interpret the Stewart family’s lifestyle.
The Stewarts owned 160 acres and purchased another 440 in 1897, including land on the north side of the Nicomekl River where they had two additional hay barns. Read more about the outbuildings on the farm.
The citizens of Surrey own the Historic Stewart Farm site, including 54 acres of land. It was purchased by the municipality in 1984. In June, 1988, Surrey Municipal Council transferred responsibility for the development and operation of the site to the Surrey Parks and Recreation Commission and, more specifically, Heritage Services.
Mud Bay Community
- School: The Mud Bay School was built in 1883.
- Newspaper: The Surrey Times was first published in Cloverdale on April 5, 1895.
- Church: The Mud Bay Church was dedicated on October 5, 1885 and was built on land donated by J.B. Chantrell.
- Policing: On September 16, 1882, John Oliver received the first payment for police service in Surrey. The area was largely self-policed by settlers at the time. On May 23, 1888, Council authorized the purchase of a revolver and handcuffs for the “Corporation Constable.” The first full time police officer was appointed in 1905. The first police chief was appointed in 1909.
- Jail: The first jail was built in 1908 after the capture of a murderer.
- Mail: From 1884-1886, the local post office was located at the Elgin Hotel. Mail was brought from New Westminster on horseback by Stuart Stevenson.
The photos below are courtesy of the Surrey Archives. For more information, please contact them at 604.502.6459. The picture above is the Stewart farm house newly built in 191-?. Ref SMA88.009.01.