The first municipal hall in Pitt Meadows.

The first municipal hall in Pitt Meadows.

The feud between Ridge, Pitt

Few people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are aware that, at one time, the two communities were part of the same municipality.

Few people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are aware that, at one time, the two communities were part of the same municipality – the Township of Maple Ridge.

Most are also unaware that 130 years ago, the western edge of the municipality extended almost as far west as Coast Meridian Road in what is now Port Coquitlam.

This came to an end on March 2, 1896, when letters patent were issued, reducing the area of Maple Ridge substantially, with the removal of land westward from Port Hammond and including Pitt Meadows.

It was no secret at the time that the petition for removal had come from Pitt Meadows landowners, many of whom were lowlanders and not satisfied with the municipality’s handling of diking and drainage issues.

As Edith McDermott, in her 1967 Historical Story of Pitt Meadows put it:  “The people on the highland [ed.  Maple Ridge] felt that the lowlands [ed. Pitt Meadows] were a depressed area, very fine for grazing cattle upon when it was suitable, or for the making of hay when the waters from the spring flooding of the Fraser, Pitt and Alouette receded, but much too expensive to dike against the spring freshets of three rivers.”

Eventually, Pitt Meadows applied for its own letters patent and was granted on April 23, 1914, making the District of Pitt Meadows a reality.

What is not so well known, and is almost lost to history, is the fact that a sliver of land between the two municipalities (lots 280, 281, 267, 285, 429 and the southwest corner of Section 25) remained unincorporated, and under the authority of the provincial government.

This was about to change as Pitt Meadows, much to the chagrin of the unincorporated landowners, petitioned to include the sliver in its municipality.

In response, the owners sought a return to Maple Ridge.

After a year of arguing, a hearing was held at Dale Hall in Port Hammond on Dec. 13, 1915, when all parties involved, municipalities and landowners, argued their respective cases.

A dog-eared copy of the proceedings is found in the collection at the Pitt Meadows Museum, and from and it we gain insight into the concerns of settlers in the Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge over issues around diking, drainage, road building and taxes.

The landowners in question, among them the Laity and Hampton families, preferred their unincorporated status. But if forced to choose, stated their desire to be reincluded in Maple Ridge due to worries over the tax burden if incorporated into Pitt Meadows.

Testimony concluded with the commission adjourned until “a date to be advertised later on.”

That date is lost to time, and a search of the provincial archives yielded no further record of proceedings at hearings into the matter.

However, on Aug. 14, 1918 the dispute was put to an end when an Order in Council, No. 2,168, was approved, granting the landowner’s petition and giving the disputed territory to the Corporation of the Township of Maple Ridge as of Aug. 1 that year.

The rest is history.

 

Leslie Norman is curator at the Pitt Meadows Museum.