A new granite marker on the Shortreed Cairn was unveiled Thursday at Fraser Highway just west of 264 Street. From left are Dave Speedie

A new granite marker on the Shortreed Cairn was unveiled Thursday at Fraser Highway just west of 264 Street. From left are Dave Speedie

Historic cairn restored at Shortreed Corner

A new granite marker on the Shortreed Cairn was unveiled Thursday at Fraser Highway just west of 264 Street.

On Thursday, August 2, the Mayor of Langley Township, Jack Froese, unveiled the new Shortreed Cairn on Fraser Highway.

The cairn is just across the street from the McDonald’s Restaurant, near 264 Street. This cairn was erected when the house built by Robert (Bob) Shortreed Jr. was demolished, but the plaque, being made of bronze, was stolen in recent years.

Wayne Boylan of First Memorial Funeral Services in Aldergrove, when he heard of the plaque being stolen, offered to donate a replacement made of granite.

A special dignitary on hand for the unveiling was Rod Deans, a grand nephew representing the Shortreed family. June Speedie represented the Alder Grove Heritage Society and Wayne Boylan represented First Memorial Funeral Services at the unveiling.

SHORTREED CORNERS, LATER SPEEDIE’S CORNER

In 1883 Robert Shortreed Jr. homesteaded this site, on the Old Yale wagon road. He became a Justice of the Peace and held that position until 1919. He operated a general store, the Shortreed Post Office and New Westminster & Burrard Inlet Telegraph here.

In 1900 he moved to Abbotsford and opened a store there and was also a CPR bridge builder. Robert formed a posse in 1904 to track down Billy Miner, who had robbed a train in Mission City. In 1905 he became a Canada Customs worker. In 1923 he was a tax collector and stipendiary magistrate. He died in 1924 in Abbotsford.

In 1926 Mac and Rita Lamont bought the property and built the gas station and living quarters. Mac was a carpenter and built Dr. Marr’s house on Hospital Hill. He probably rented the property to Mr. Flatman, but sold it to Peter and Christine Voigt in 1937. The 2.85 acres had an orchard, large garden, cows and chickens which helped the family survive, since not much gas was sold at Pete’s Corner Service one gas pump. In the early 1960s the business was run by the Bells, then the Watmoughs.

In 1962 John and Daisy Speedie bought the business (jobs for their children June, Hazel and David too), and the small house. The Voigts gardened at their property next door, the old Shortreed house. In 1967 the Speedies bought the Voigt house and Pete and Christine moved to downtown Aldergrove. John put a trailer on the business site for a gift shop.

In 1969 Dave Speedie began making ice to sell to people going fishing. He had a small commercial machine. Before long he had to buy another to keep up with the demand, as the store sold fishing licences and live and frozen bait. The business kept growing. In 1972 plans were begun to build a larger store with more gas pumps. The year 1973 saw the opening of the new premises, officiated by Mayor George Preston.

Both Fraser Highway and Bellingham Highway had been considerably widened. In 1974 another building was put up behind the store to house Dave’s Ice plant, a gift shop and apartment upstairs. John Speedie died in 1981 and Dave and June continued to run the business.

The business was sold in 1990 to Joseph Baik. It has had the front building demolished but the rear building remains as a store and restaurant. The Shortreed house was also sold that year, to Summergate Estates. The cairn was erected at the west end of the property to commemorate its history.

ROBERT (BOB) SHORTREED Jr.

Born in Ontario in 1860, Bob came out west in 1883 to homestead on the south-west corner of the New Westminster to Yale and County Line Roads (Fraser Highway and 264 Street). Eight years later, in 1891 he married 17 year old American-born Kathleen Gray, daughter of James Scoggy Gray, a Langley pioneer. Scoggy operated a Blacksmith Shop on Bob’s property next to his store.

Bob was listed in the B.C. Directory as a general merchant; his store was located where McDonald’s Restaurant stands today. This area was known as Shortreed and was in direct competition with Alder Grove just two kilometres to the east.

At the age of 23 Bob became “Justice of the Peace” a position he held for 36 years. He installed the first CPR telegraph key in this area at his store and when the New Westminster and Burrard Inlet Telephone Company had telephone service available he also installed one of those. Bob started the Shortreed Post Office in first August 1891, which he also ran out of his store.

William Henry Vanetta had homesteaded on the north-east corner and Findlay Shortreed, Bob’s younger brother, had settled on the south-east corner. William was in charge of the Customs House, which he operated out of his home. In 1888, Findlay donated a piece of his property for the first school in the town. Other early settlers at Shortreed were Johan P. Swanson, John Miller, Scoggy Gray, Duncan Shortreed and James Duff.

Bob closed up shop at the end of 1904 and moved to Abbotsford but the following spring the post office was reopened in the Vanetta house with William’s daughter, 18 year old Jessie, becoming postmistress. Bob had already opened a store in Abbotsford but he closed that as well in 1905 and went to work for Canada Customs in Abbotsford. In 1923 Bob became a tax collector and stipendiary magistrate, however, he died a year later.

Starting in 1910 the community of Shortreed was slowly absorbed into Aldergrove with the retirement of William Vanetta and the Customs House moving to Boundary and Jackman Roads, the opening of the telephone exchange in Aldergrove in 1912, the new two-room Aldergrove schoolhouse opened in 1913, and the closure of the Shortreed Post Office in 1917. Fred Hart of FJ Hart Real Estate was probably the major contributor to Shortreed’s demise with his promotion of “the Apple Lands of Aldergrove” with his office being at Yale and Jackman Roads.

Shortreed School in Aldergrove is named after Bob’s sister Christina, who attended the first school in Aldergrove when she arrived from Ontario with her parents. Later she became a teacher, first at Beaver School at Coghlan and Roberts Roads (256 Street and 56 Avenue) then at Patricia School (Aldergrove South) at County Line and Warner Roads, 264 Street and 8 Avenue).