The 1952 Pitt Meadows Day festivities included the crowning of the royal party. (Pitt Meadows Museum & Archives/Special to The News)

The 1952 Pitt Meadows Day festivities included the crowning of the royal party. (Pitt Meadows Museum & Archives/Special to The News)

LOOKING BACK: Archives clear up reasons behind 1948 festival cancellation

Pitt Meadows Day goes ahead again this Saturday, albeit it primarily virtual

By Leslie Norman/Special to The News

The first Saturday in June is just days away, and, for the second year in a row – due to COVID-19 – Pitt Meadows Day will be a virtual event.

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Here at the museum, and throughout Pitt Meadows, we all hope that by 2022 we will be back to crowds lining the parade route, waterfights between kids and firemen, field activities at Harris Road Park, museum displays/activities and crafts, barbecues, fireworks, and everything else that makes Pitt Meadows Day an iconic community event.

However, this is not the first time the celebration has been on hiatus, the first being a five-year interruption starting in the year of the flood, 1948.

With our latest two-year break there is still much community interest, and the City of Pitt Meadows has worked hard to keep the event alive with all sorts of virtual activities and even a mini drive by parade.

RELATED: Pitt Meadows day will be celebrated virtually again

This was not the case in 1948, when rising flood water put a last-minute halt on the festivities… or so we thought.

Since the 2020 acquisition of a large collection of documents and other papers from the vault at the old municipal hall, we have a new spin on the 1948 planning for Pitt Meadows Day and now know that just maybe the flood was not totally to blame. Just a few weeks before rising water became a concern, the organizers were dealing with other issues that threatened the event, chief among them “a lack of interest shown by parents.”

While we have little other information from the Miss Pitt Meadows committee for that year, minutes from their May 4 meeting are clear – “Moved by Mr. Ming & seconded by Mrs. Dale that Miss Pitt Meadows Day be dropped because of lack of parent’s interest.” and then “Moved by Miss. Fraser & seconded by Miss Ming that the organization carry on for sports day to be held in June…”

Of course, then the flooding happened and there was no sports day either.

It was not until 1952, when the newly formed Pitt Meadows Lions Club took on the event, that Reta Kvass – the 1947 Queen – was able to hand her crown off to the new Queen, Marlene Wickson.

This is a reminder of the value of archival material.

Often a double-edged sword, such documents can provide concrete factual information but, at the same time, burst some long-held beliefs entrenched in a community’s history such as cancelled due to flood rather than to lack of interest.

Since 1951, there have been other periods of low interest with organizing Pitt Meadows Day. But the community has always rallied and the event has gone off like clockwork.

Thank you to all the generations of volunteers, community groups, and city staff who kept the celebration alive virtually in 2020 and are doing the same this year – making us all more than ready for a traditional event, hopefully in 2022.

On the 5th of June drive by the museum to see our Pitt Meadows Day exterior decor, and have a look at our Annette Code parlour/Pitt Meadows Day room video via our website and/or Facebook page.

RELATED: A special room at Pitt Meadows Museum dedicated to Code

Happy Pitt Meadows Day everyone.

– Leslie Norman is curator of the Pitt Meadows Museum and Archives

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May 4, 1948 minutes about the Miss Pitt Meadows and royalty festivities indicate the Pitt Meadows Day was cancelled due to a lack of parent interest, not because of the flood – as originally thought. (Pitt Meadows Museum & Archives/Special to The News)

May 4, 1948 minutes about the Miss Pitt Meadows and royalty festivities indicate the Pitt Meadows Day was cancelled due to a lack of parent interest, not because of the flood – as originally thought. (Pitt Meadows Museum & Archives/Special to The News)