Historical society looking to restore ‘stories’ of Maple Ridge

Brenda Smith of the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission stands beside a heritage plaque in Memorial Peace Park on Thursday. - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
Brenda Smith of the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission stands beside a heritage plaque in Memorial Peace Park on Thursday.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

Some of Maple Ridge’s historic plaques are barely legible, time having taken its toll.

Some can be read, just barely, because the Plexiglas coverings have clouded over, creating an almost opaque screen.

After the years of sun and rain, ice and heat, the heritage markers and plaques that dot the district need replacing, so the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission has started an inventory process to find out their exact locations.

After that, the group will decide on the best way to preserve them for future years.

“Lots of things happen to markers,” said Brenda Smith, heritage commission chair.

Some have been accidentally damaged or hit by cars, while others have been “liberated” from their original locations.

Many monuments or plaques can be found in the popular places, but some have been tucked away in less visible spots. Some have been installed by groups other than local government, or the heritage commission.

Smith appeared at council Tuesday to give an update of the commission’s work. The district is reviewing the draft heritage plan, intended to last for two decades. The plan also includes the plaque-restoration project.

“There has not been a consistent record of where they are all placed,” Smith explained later.

As a result, it’s going to take a while, until next year, before the commission knows the location of all the plaques.

“We’ve probably located 140 or so. We have a fairly good idea of lots of them and we’re looking at finding the rest of them.

“We’re hoping that people in the community will just let us know.”

Once all the locations are known for the markers and their condition has been noted, the commission will decide how best to renovate them.

“They’re in different frames, some may need a paint job, some may have to have the Plexiglas replaced, some of them may have to be completely replaced. We’re not really sure at this point.”

The commission, though, is trying to find the best way to preserve and restore them “in a 21st Century way.” That will require consultation with sign makers and metal workers and studying how other cities preserve markers on their historic locations.

“Everybody’s got a different spin on this.

“There are lots of technological changes that have taken place since the marking of historical places began in Maple Ridge.”

One location where some attention is needed is the Whonnock Cemetery, where explanatory panels at the entrance are in poor shape.

Smith represents the Maple Ridge Historical Society on the commission. The historical society has its annual general meeting March 20 and celebrates its 40th anniversary Aug. 10.

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