Michael Gibbs, president of the Surrey Historical Society, inspects vandalized grave markers in the Surrey Centre Cemetery April 27. Gibbs wondered if it might be time to install security cameras in the 139-year-old cemetery. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

100-year-old gravestones vandalized at Surrey Centre Cemetery

Headstones of local pioneers toppled in Cloverdale

Seven grave markers were knocked over last week in Surrey Centre Cemetery.

The graves stones were nearly all one metre or taller in height and were in the pioneer section of the cemetery, where most graves are more than 100 years old.

“It’s absolutely horrible,” said Michael Gibbs, president of the Surrey Historical Society. “I don’t understand why someone would do something like this.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Historical Society president offers advice on staying connected and sharing one’s ‘heritage’ during pandemic

SEE ALSO: BCHF cancels history conference set for Cloverdale

Sue Bryant, a member of the Surrey Historical Society, said she first heard about the vandalism April 26 through the “Friends of West Cloverdale” Facebook page.

“I went up right away and took a bunch of photos,” said Bryant. “Several of the older headstones on the City side of the pioneer section of the cemetery were damaged.”

The damaged grave markers include families such as: McCallum, Elliott, Acorn, Wood, and others.

Bryant gives cemetery tours and is very familiar with the stories of the families that are interred in the graveyard.

“This is very sad, given some of the damaged headstones date back to the late 1800s, early 1900s, and at least two are of children less than a year old.”

Bryant said the pioneer grave sites occupy a part of the graveyard that is somewhat secluded.

“You can’t see the area from any houses. I’ve been there late at night and I’ve seen a lot of people hanging out there.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Centre Cemetery a wealth of history

SEE ALSO: Cloverdale’s Scott family honoured at Surrey Centre Cemetery

Bryant said the only other vandalism at Surrey Centre Cemetery that she can remember happened about 25 years ago.

“In the mid-90s, a big group of (gravestones) were vandalized.”

Gibbs wondered if, given the profile of the pioneers, the historical value of the pioneer section, and its century-old markers, it wasn’t time for some more security.

“I think we need some cameras in here,” noted Gibbs. “This cemetery is part of our heritage.”

“Cemetery staff have started the process to repair the monuments which were vandalized last week,” wrote Laurie Cavan in an email to the Cloverdale Reporter. “The contractor expects to have the repairs completed by the end of this week (May 1).”

Cavan, the general manager of the Parks, Recreation, and Culture department, said the repair work will restore the grave markers in such a way that they’ll retain their historic appearance.

“To prevent future vandalism, the repaired monuments will be fastened with a metal rod through the monument into its base,” added Cavan. “It is rare for historic monuments in Surrey to be defaced or damaged by acts of vandalism.”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CloverdalegraveyardSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

No one injured in suspicious Victoria boat fire, say investigators

Victoria police and fire personnel called to blaze on waters near Selkirk Trestle May 22

Three people facing mischief charges after protests at Premier John Horgan’s home

Special prosecutor was appointed to avoid real or perceived undue influence

VIDEO: Saanich police tackle man who refused to move off Trans-Canada Highway

At this point, it is unclear why the man refused to move

Sidney staff recommends additional outdoor seating for restaurants and cafes

Report before council also leaves open possibility of closing a portion of Beacon Avenue

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

CVRD testing Shawnigan water after complaints of metallic taste, odour

“This type of problem has come up a number of times in summers in the past”

COVID-19 cases next to nil on Vancouver Island

Only one COVID-19 patient being treated at Island Health’s hospitals

Most Read