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Maple Ridge residents recognized with provincial heritage awards

Local people are standouts in preserving history
James Rowley and Leanne Koehn at Hammond Forever Home. (Amber Light Photography/Special to The News)

Maple Ridge had two local winners in the 2023 BC Heritage Awards by Heritage BC, as well as a nominee.

These provincial awards, honour individuals and organizations who preserve and promote our heritage and history.

The winners included Leanne Koehn and James Rowley, who received the Conservation Award in the Outstanding category for their conservation work on the Hammond Forever Home. They demonstrated an innovative combination of heritage conservation and environmental leadership that was recognized. At this year’s Maple Ridge Heritage Awards, they won the Heritage Site Award.

Koehn said it has been a lot of work, but rewarding. The recognition is appreciated.

“It feels like we’re done, and that heritage is valued,” she said. “We’re very honoured by it.”

They bought the house in 2007 from Koehn’s parents. It was one of several in the neighbourhood that had been built by her grandfather Carl Whitehead, who worked at the Hammond Mill.

Koehn said there are many well-kept heritage homes in her neighbourhood, while others have been torn down and replaced with larger, modern houses. Still, movies can be filmed there, taking viewers back to an earlier era.

“There are some beautiful heritage houses in Hammond,” she said. “There is a small window to preserve Hammond as a heritage area. We would love more people to join in.”

Rowley explained that their improvements over the years have maintained the heritage character of the house, while adding green innovations. It is insulated with spray foam, has a heat pump, solar panels and other improvements.

“The house is 100 years old, built in 1923, and it’s a great time to celebrate it,” said Rowley.

The awards are humbling.

“All that work is being noticed,” said Rowley. “It’s a little bit like those neighbours who walk by on the street and yell ‘We love your house!’”

• The Maple Ridge Museum and Archives received an award for Recognition in Education, Awareness and Communications, for their Museum on the Move programming.

• Gina Armstrong and Victoria Vancek of Haunted History BC were nominated in the Education, Communications, and Awareness category for the creation of the very first Canadian paranormal magazine, Evenings and Avenues – Hauntings in the Outskirts.

READ ALSO: New outdoor garden at Maple Ridge school will provide creative learning space in September

READ ALSO: Indigenous dance group coming to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

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