Looking Back: Why we care about an old garage, dealership
The intersection of 224th Street and Lougheed Highway has been one of our most important intersections since the highway was constructed in the early 1930s.
It was the site of our first traffic light in 1953.
Lougheed Hwy. provided Maple Ridge with its first true cross-town transportation route, bringing traffic from east and west, including those just passing through.
That made this important intersection a natural location for a garage where you could gas up, get repairs done, or buy automotive accessories.
The first garage building on the northeast corner of the intersection was hinted at for months in the local paper, the Gazette.
Finally, on Oct. 16, 1930, it was announced that George White, already proprietor of garages in Hammond and Port Coquitlam, would be opening a fine new premises that “will give a value to the corner that cannot fail of proving town-wide importance.”
The garage opened in March 1931, coinciding with the completion of the highway.
It was called “Maple Ridge Motors” and was home to a Ford dealership. In addition to selling cars, it offered full repair facilities, including a fine cement pit and even boasted of a lady’s washroom, located off the main office.
By September 1933, some time before our photograph was taken, the garage was sold to J.A. Carr, who was known as “Mike.” Born in Haney in the year of the high water – 1894 – this native son was a popular man about town. He had previously owned a feed store, so this was his first automotive venture.
He changed the name to “Home Garage,” but everything else stayed the same, including the Ford dealership.
In the summer of 1935, Solomon Mussallem opened his “Modern Motors” across the street, on the corner where Tim Horton’s now resides. The opening was a grand affair at which an entire ox was barbecued. This was a General Motors dealership.
Today’s picture was taken by Bank of Montreal manager Barry Piers. His Haney branch had already taken up residence on the south-east corner of the intersection. We wonder what prompted him to take this wonderful portrait of the garage. Perhaps it was its repainting by the Home Oil Company in company colours of white with red and ivory trim and a bright green roof. That would date the image to the fall of 1936.
In 1944, the business sold again and the name returned to “Maple Ridge Motors.” It continued as a Ford dealership with the addition of Mercury models.
In 1945, the business was further modernized and so at its peak, the building measured 45 by 120 feet.
There continued to be a garage operating on this corner until 1980, when the whole area northeast of the intersection was altered for the development of Haney Place Mall.
Why do we care about a garage?
Being in such a landmark location, knowing its history helps to place and date buildings and businesses that went up and down around it.
Another reason is the community memory.
How many generations of young men took their Fords and other makes to that garage for repairs?
It was likely often enough that the mechanics felt like family members.
How many families bought new cars there?
Automobiles are second only to homes as major purchases and most people recall new cars as major life events.
Garages are part of the backbone of the community. We are always looking for more information on local businesses that served the community for many years.
Let’s not just forget them.
– Val Patenaude is director of the Maple Ridge Museum.