October is Family History Month and Alder Grove Heritage Society president Tami Quiring is seeing to it that present day residents get the chance to know about some of the people who lived in Aldergrove throughout the 20th Century.
Quiring’s information comes from early pioneer stories found in two volumes of Aldergrove history called The Place Between.
“The heritage society is actively searching out stories from those families who were missed in both volumes,” Quiring said. “Just from my own research, I know that there are many, many families whose stories were not included in either of the books.”
She is sharing a different family history on the Alder Grove Heritage Society Facebook page daily, and has asked anyone looking to share their story or more information about a particular family by commenting online or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are a few shortened examples of some of the families that Quiring has featured so far.
Charlie Byron Smith
Smith & Parr General Store was operated by Charles Smith and his uncle, Henry Parr.
Charlie Byron Smith, better known as Byron, was born in Sauk Center, Minnesota in 1886. In his late teens he moved out to Yakima, Washington. It was there that he met his future bride, Lillie Munrovia Varker.
From Yakima, Byron went on to Cloverdale BC in 1906 in order to help his uncle, Henry Parr. It was Henry who suggested that there was need of a good general store in Aldergrove because the new Great Northern Railroad went through both Aldergrove and Cloverdale.
They built general stores in both towns. Records have not yet been located to show if both men arrived in BC at the same time, 1906.
At 22 years of age, Byron oversaw the building and was proprietor of the new store, which stood on the northeast corner of Yale Road and Jackman Road, where the 7-11 now stands.
The Smith & Parr General Store stocked items such as canned goods and bulk food, plus the normal assortment of dry goods.
There was also a post office in the store with compartments where mail was held for people. The store did not sell fresh meat as there was a meat market across the street (to the west of Jackman Road) that provided all that was needed. As there was no power, a high test gas lamp provided light on dark nights.
Byron delivered groceries in a Model T Ford, which was also often used as an ambulance in an emergency.
When the store burned down in 1916, the Smiths left Aldergrove for Chilliwack, where Byron took over the car dealership.
Robert and Nathaniel Coghlan
Nathaniel, Henry (Harry) and half-brother Robert Coghlan came from Atwood Ontario in 1892 to up adjoining homesteads between Carpenter and Howell Roads, on what later became known as Coghlan Road.
The lumber for the cabins on the two properties was all hand-sawn and hand-hewed.
They had to back pack all their provisions in to their homestead from Fort Langley.
Gradually, a road was slashed through from the Telegraph Trail. As each new settler came, more road was cut until it finally joined up with the Yale Road (now called Fraser Highway).
Thirteen years after coming out west, Henry Coghlan married Elizabeth Bowen, who had from from Cardiff, Wales and was working in Langley. One son, Clifford, was born from this marriage.
Nathaniel Coghlan never married, but worked with his brother in mixed farming, taking their cattle and farm produce to Fort Langley to be loaded aboard the steamer plying the Fraser River to New Westminster where it was sold or auctioned.
Grain was taken to the Hossack grist mill on River Road east of Fort Langley. The grain was made into flour for home use or meal for the livestock. The Coghlans fished the Fraser River and logged.
When the BC Electric Company was laying the railway, the Coghlans cut 20,000 ties for them.
The Coghlan Station was later named for them.
Later the homestead was subdivided into five and ten acre sections, and the Coghlans sold out, moving to Fort Langley where they led a more retiring life with a small farm.
Roy and Myrtle Beggs
Roy and Myrtle Beggs were both born in Milverton, Ontario; Roy in May 1896 and Myrtle in October 1898.
They were married in Ontario in 1916 and lived for many years in Stoughton, Saskatchewan before moving to Langley just after the second World War.
Their only child, Trevor, was born in Tyvan, Saskatchewan in 1920. He spent most of his time in Stoughton playing sports, and is in the Stoughton Hall of Fame under the Curling category. Trevor worked at the General Motors plant and then for radio CJRM, both in Regina. He enlisted in the RCAF in 1941 and spent 5 years in the military, both in Canada and overseas.
The Beggs family came to Aldergrove in 1946, where they built their house at 3024 271st Street, next to where Jim and Dorothy Ferguson would make their home in 1963. Roy, Myrtle and Trevor then built the Beggs Hardware store on Fraser Highway east of 272nd Street, which served the community for fifteen years.
Beggs’ Hardware Store stocked everything from nuts and bolts to fine china, and included an inventory of major appliances and a full line of builders’ hardware. Myrtle looked after the china department, and whenever there was a bridal shower, people would come in looking for a gift and often asked for suggestions.
Myrtle would always know the right pattern of china to suggest, and invariably the bride would end up with a full tea set. Free gift wrapping was always provided.
The Beggs became very involved in the Aldergrove Community. Roy became a part of the Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department in 1946, serving as chairman of the executive committee.
While he retired from the Fire Department in 1971, he was honoured as a lifetime member of Hall 3 for his many years of commitment to the department.
Roy was also very involved in the Chamber of Commerce, serving many terms on the executive. Myrtle was a part of the Order of the Royal Purple and the United Church Women’s Association, as well as part of the Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary and a volunteer at the Aldergrove Thrift Shop.
Both Roy and Myrtle were members of the Aldergrove Agricultural Association and Aldergrove Fair Board. They were both dedicated to volunteering their time to help out with community events and fundraising drives, such as helping to pay off the last of the debt owed for building Aldergrove Park.
Elsie was also very involved in the Aldergrove community. During the war years, she was involved with the Red Cross First Aid and as a plane spotter. She was a volunteer at the Aldergrove park concession for all of the ball games, and also played softball.
She was president of both the Aldergrove Elementary and Aldergrove High School PTAs, and helped to organize many graduation banquets.
James and Mildred Brown
James Black Brown (Jim) and his wife Mildred arrived in Aldergrove from North Vancouver in the spring of 1946, with their four daughters: Beverley, Patricia, Charmian (Chum), and Mavis. They lived on an eleven-acre holding on Trans Canada Highway west of the Aldergrove Elementary School.
Their immediate neighbours were Mrs. Watson to the east and the Ovitsland family to the west. In 1958, Aldergrove Secondary School was built on the southern-most part of their property.
Prior to their move to Aldergrove, and after Jim’s discharge from the Royal Canadian Air Force, he and Mildred purchased a quarter section on North Coghlan Road. This land was wooded with the exception of an old orchard and a gravel pit that was often used as a swimming hole.
The Brown family trekked out by car from North Vancouver to spend weekends clearing land. At the end of the day, they fell asleep exhausted in the cabin that Jim built on the property.
Two years later, the Coghlan property was sold, and the family moved to Aldergrove. The Brown girls became actively involved in Teen Town which sponsored youth dances and community activities. Bev was the first mayor of Teen Town, and Pat played Senior B-ball with Trevor and Elsie Beggs as coaches.
Jim, working at L.K. Sully Real Estate, was instrumental in drawing up and helping to implement a town plan for Aldergrove. As well, he was supervising the family holding which consisted of a Jersey cow, called Hedy after Lamarr, Chum’s horse called Trigger, 200 chickens, three Chinese silkens, an orchard, a strawberry field, and a hayfield.
Is there more to this story?