It should be known as Port Hammond

Looking Back - a column by the Maple Ridge Historical Society

Port Hammond’s first train station

Port Hammond’s first train station

In 1882, the Hammond brothers and their neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Mohun, presented to Victoria a “Plan of the Town of Port Hammond Junction.”  Edward Mohun and William Hammond, both civil engineers, were aware of the route the new railroad would take on their lands, and they presented their plan after the signing of the contract to build the western section. The contract confirmed a station would be built on William Hammond’s land as well as a wharf, where steamers would call to move passengers and freight to and from New Westminster and Victoria – hence the word “junction.”

A newspaper in 1883 said: “A new and valuable town site, called Port Hammond Junction, will, we learn, be shortly placed on the market. It is a grand site for a city… Port Hammond is to be the rival of any city on the Fraser River.  The newly laid out and subdivided town promises to have a bright future.”

Initially, there was much interest, but the boom collapsed when in 1885 the CPR built a spur line from what is now Port Coquitlam to New Westminster and decided to extend the main line west from Port Moody, the original terminus, to what became Vancouver.

By the time the first transcontinental train arrived on the west coast in 1886, Hammond was not “the junction” the Hammonds and Mohuns had expected it to be. It was now simply Port Hammond. The CPR even dropped the “Port” from the name and just showed Hammond in its timetables.

It seemed that the name “Port Hammond” would follow its long-worded and short-lived predecessor “Port Hammond Junction” into the history books, but when the post office opened in 1885, it carried the name “Port Hammond” and continued with that name until the day it closed in 1966.

Today, the community is mostly called Hammond.

Still, some residents insist the community should be known as Port Hammond and they are right because Port Hammond is the official name of the community registered in Ottawa and Victoria.

Since Port Hammond is the official name, residents, merchants, and the District of Maple Ridge should make sure the official name is used wherever possible. Why not add “Port” to those familiar names: Port Hammond Stadium, Port Hammond United Church, and Port Hammond elementary, etc. Does that not add a touch of class?