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The trick to deciphering streetscapes
The community archives have been most fortunate in recent days to receive a collection of photographs from members of the Dunning family.
W. Barry Piers was father to Margery Dunning, wife of Eric Dunning, who was editor and producer of the local Gazette newspaper.
Piers was manager for the Bank of Montreal, first in Port Haney (now the Billy Miner Pub) and later at 8th Street (now 224th) and Lougheed Highway.
He was an enthusiastic photographer and over the years, we have acquired many of his images.
Most photographic collections come to us with a mix of information. Sometimes we get a date or names of people included in an image. Sometimes there is nothing at all, and unless we recognize a particular person or bit of landscape, we can’t even tell if the photo was taken in Maple Ridge.
With today’s photo, there was never any doubt where it was taken. This is the Lougheed Highway, looking east from 8th Avenue [224th Street], probably from in front of the bank where Barry Piers worked. The question is when was it taken?
To answer that, we explore different elements of the photo as clues.
The first building we see on the right is the Odeon Theatre. This building used to be called the Gem Theatre and we know the name was changed in 1944, so that sets a minimum date of 1944.
The next building is a house. We have the story of that house because Judi Hubbard Hart has shared it with us. Art Hubbard, Judi’s father, moved his family from Vancouver in 1945 and purchased that house and a bare lot just west of 9th Avenue [225th], where the Dairy Queen is now located.
Aided by Ernie Adair and Stan Purdy, “Hubb Motors” was constructed on the bare lot and opened for business by December of that same year. As both the house and garage are in the picture, that raises the date to at least December 1945.
In 1948, wanting to expand his business, Art Hubbard sold the house that was on the property. It was moved, divided in half and rebuilt nearby (just north of where the Langley Farm market is now) as two homes.
Hubbard then renovated his building and added a car lot where the house had stood.
The picture had to be taken between December 1945 and mid-1948, when the house was moved.
According to Judi Hubbard Hart, when their family arrived in 1945, the property on the southeast corner of 9th Ave. and Lougheed Hwy. was owned by the Menzies family. Later it was sold and the building seen in the background – the Paradise Inn Café – was built by the MacPherson family. It opened in December 1947.
Taking the entire streetscape into consideration, we can compile these clues and come up with the spring or summer of 1948 as the date of the picture.
There is still one interesting clue to be taken into account, though. The cars parked along the side of the road each have a bumper sticker-sized sign on them reading “Maple Ridge Board of Trade.” It is unlikely that the men of the board of trade would mark their vehicles with signs just to attend a meeting, so a far more likely scenario is that this is the aftermath of a parade – the July 1 Dominion Day parade of 1948. However, since that last bit is more speculative, the photo will remain dated to the spring or summer of 1948.
Val Patenaude is the director of the Maple Ridge Museum.