There was a time when forestry and fishing dominated the Fraser River in Maple Ridge, and businesses along it serviced them. Time passes, though, and the economy and landscape change.
And as of Jan. 1, a landmark in Albion, east Maple Ridge, will disappear as the property on which R. Muth and Sons has occupied for 70 years has been sold.
“It’s always been a machine shop from way back,” said Gordon Muth, who took over the business 30 years ago from his father and uncle, Fred and Walter Muth, who opened the business in 1945.
The two started the business after their dad, Ralph, bought 13 acres at the corner of Lougheed Highway and 240th Street the year before.
Gordon recalls the business beginning with a focus on welding and machining, servicing the sawmills in the area. Repairing water pumps for the residents who live on acreages was another aspect.
But both of those faded as municipal water lines extended farther east and larger retailers undercut prices on such pumps.
In recent years, the business has focused on selling and servicing lawn mowers and landscaping machinery, trimmers and brush cutters, chain saws and small engine repairs.
But in the new year, the business will change hands and Gordon enter retirement, at age 66.
“That will be a change in lifestyle, that’s for sure,” said Gordon.
The purchasers of the property, about a third of an acre, is the McEachern family, who runs Bruce’s Country Market next door.
Gordon said he didn’t know what the buyer’s plans for the property are.
The two families were united when Ralph’s daughter, Elnora Muth, married Bruce McEachern. The couple founded the store that bears Bruce’s name in 1948.
The McEachern family has fished commercially for more than four generations, and Elnora’s name still graces a boat that sits on Bruce’s parking lot, greeting customers.
The market opened in a new building in 1996.
Maple Ridge Museum executive-director Val Patenaude was happy the Muth property will stay with the family.
“The building is important not for what it is, but what it represents,” she said.
“It’s more that the two families have been there since the 1940s, cemented by marriage.”
The sale will create another casualty from days gone by. Bill’s Auto Repairs has been subleasing space from Muth for more than 40 years and will close next month as Bill MacLean, 75, also retires.
That means auto tech Andrew Dondo won’t have a job.
“It’s been a going concern now for 40 years. It’s hard not to get emotional about it,” Dondo said.
“The deal that was 20 years in the making is taking place.”