By Fred Braches
Shortly after his arrival in Maple Ridge from Ontario in 1876, or 1877, Thomas Haney acquired land from the Wickwire estate.
The story goes on to tell that the Haney family first lived across the Fraser River in Derby in an old house, then moved to a cabin they built on the future Port Haney land.
In 1878, the Haneys moved to their new home, which we know today as Haney House.
Other findings shine light on the builders and the actual time of completion of Haney House, and on Thomas Haney’s activities as a brick maker.
The late James Wickwire was a member of a family of farmers from Ontario. Wickwire preempted the land in 1860. But when he died in 1872, the government had yet to grant him the acreage. Only in June of 1879 was the property granted to the executors of James Wickwire’s will. Two months later, they transferred the title of the land to Thomas Haney.
Strangely, the year 1878 has continued to be shown as the construction year of Haney House, even though 1883 is the correct one.
Another story tells us that Thomas Haney built Haney House with the help of carpenter Samuel Edge, and Haney’s father-in-law, Daniel Callaghan.
In 1877, Daniel Sr., a widower, had joined his only daughter and his sons in Maple Ridge, but he died the following year. As the house was constructed in 1883, it must have been his son, Daniel Jr., who was the builder of Haney House.
In the 1891 Canada Census, young Daniel’s profession is shown as “town carpenter.” His name is connected with several other buildings in Maple Ridge.
As from 1882, the year of the start of the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the Lower Mainland, Thomas Haney’s land, often before referred to as “Haney’s Landing,” became known as Port Haney. A strong wharf was built there, the first businesses were established and churches built – initiatives by or supported and encouraged by Thomas Haney.
In 1884, the fist registered taxpayer for land in Port Haney, aside from Thomas Haney, was his brother-in-law, Jeremiah Callagan, who owned there a two-acre “village lot” and a home.
From 1886 onward, the demand for bricks for the building of the new city of Vancouver soared and overnight brick making became a lucrative business.
That year, Henry Robert Beckett and his son Ernest William Beckett were already producing bricks in Port Haney and others quickly followed their example.
Thomas Haney was a skilled brick maker who developed the first brickyard in Maple Ridge. Although he may have made his own bricks when he settled in Maple Ridge, his profession is usually shown as “farmer.”
Haney’s name is missing from the regular reports on the Port Haney brickyards in contemporary newspapers.
There is a hint of him being associated with the Beckett brickyard, the earliest in Port Haney. Thomas Haney’s reluctance to enter business under his own name could be explained by the fact that the brickyard he had started in Ontario had been a financial failure – he had been declared insolvent before moving west.
In 1889, Thomas Haney subdivided the western part of Port Haney into small residential lots. He gave the streets in the subdivision the names that are still in use today.
Fred Braches is a local historian who lives in Whonnock.