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)

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

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will once again be transformed into temporary sheltering for 45 individuals starting in March. (Courtesy of the B.C. Government)
Temporary shelter to resume at Victoria Save-On-Foods arena in March

BC Housing signed lease with GSL Group from Feb. 1 to May 30

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kairry Nguyen on Jan. 27, 2020 after Tenessa Nikirk was found guilty for striking Bui in a Saanich crosswalk. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Driver convicted of dangerous driving after hitting Leila Bui out on bail

Tennesa Nikirk was convicted for striking then 11-year-old Leila Bui with her car

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed as Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VIDEO: Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 26

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(B.C. government photo)
POLL: Would you like to see restrictions on travel to B.C. from other provinces?

With a host of more virulent strains of COVID-19 appearing across the… Continue reading

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Most Read