Plenty to celebrate in the New Year

Christmas red bell street decorations have hung downtown Maple Ridge since 1966.

Christmas bells line 224th Street in downtown Maple Ridge

One of the joys of Christmas is giving gifts to others.

A hand-made card to a friend, a present to a loved one, or a donation to charity can satisfy the urge to connect with the community.

People who have lived in Maple Ridge for a long time are pleased that the municipality has revived its familiar red bell street decorations, which have hung downtown since 1966.

The new icicle lights dangling from the trees and the giant live Christmas tree are also welcomed additions.

It was Ro Vienotte and Owen Fuller, of Fuller Watson’s department store, who spearheaded the original street-lighting project, persuading local merchants to finance their purchases, while the municipality would store and install them each year.

The Christmas bells have been a gift to us all ever since, with people driving from all over the Lower Mainland driving here over the years to see and admire their glow.

The new year will be one of anniversaries and special events in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

The latter will be celebrating its 100th anniversary as a separate municipality on April 25, with events planned throughout the year.

Maple Ridge, on the other hand, will be celebrating 140 years since incorporation in September. Could part of the plans include an application to officially become a city, like Pitt Meadows?

The Maple Ridge Historical Society will also mark several milestones in 2014.

Can you believe it has been 40 years since volunteers opened the Maple Ridge Museum?

In 1974, the museum was essentially an enclosed space in the corner of the Maple Ridge library, then housed in the Centennial Arena complex.

In 1984, the museum opened in its present location, the former Haney Brick and Tile Company building along the bypass.

In 1994, Val Patenaude took over as curator of the museum and began computerizing its records, and since the amount and quality of historical information available to the public has increased dramatically.

This is reflected in the interpretation displays and growing use of photographic and archival records, as well as requests for other information.

Today, with Twitter and Facebook accounts and web pages, the sharing of municipal history continues to grow.

The “We call it Haney” Facebook page has become a prolific source of new information for museum archives.

Throughout 2014, the public will receive more gifts of information from the museum’s archives.

One plan is to republish a selection of “Looking Back” columns in booklet form.

Another is to republish the 1974 book Maple Ridge: A History of Settlement, written by the Maple Ridge University Women’s Club.

A public event is also being planned for the museum grounds on Aug. 10.

Even more gifts from those who store and interpret our community’s history are planned for 2014, so keep watch.

 

Sheila Nickols is past president of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.

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