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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Trail Blazers: Iconic image emerges from a muddy road

Photos: Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

Tanis Shippy joins Rossland Seven Summits of Learning as new administrator

Shippy has been training in her new role over the past month

Slocan Valley man drowns in kayaking mishap

The fatality occurred the evening of June 17

Greenwood museum debuts new exhibit

The museum doubles as the city’s Visitor Centre

Castlegar RCMP arrest one man in relation to Midway stabbing

The stabbing occurred on June 17 and a suspect was arrested June 25

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Most Read