Museum anniversary celebrated with new book

Sheila Nickols' column has appeared in The News for 27 years

A collection of stories written by Sheila Nickols form a new book and highlights the history of Maple Ridge.

A collection of stories written by Sheila Nickols form a new book and highlights the history of Maple Ridge.

Sunday will bring a celebration of Maple Ridge’s rich history, and of the group that has chronicled it for decades.

The Maple Ridge Museum celebrates its 40th anniversary this Sunday, at the grounds of the Maple Ridge Museum.

The Maple Ridge Historical Society was formed in 1957, and by 1974 it had collected enough artifacts to open a display at the library.

Ten years later, the museum established its own permanent facility in its present location – the former brickyard manager’s house from the Haney Brick and Tile Company (22520 – 116th Ave.)

The celebration will include the launch of the new historical book, Looking Back. The publication is a series of historical columns written by one-time volunteer museum curator Sheila Nickols and published exclusively in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News since 1987.

The book is a series of stories, like how Richard Reddecliff bought 160 acres of land in Maple Ridge for $2 per acre in 1886 – choosing it over land in the new city of Vancouver, at the corner of Granville and Hastings, because the valley land was better for farming.

There’s the story of the once bitter rivalry between Hammond and Haney – the principal of Maple Ridge School in 1882 had to draw a chalk line down the middle of the playground, to try and keep boys from Haney separate from the boys of Hammond, and avoid the daily recess fist fights.

“There’s phenomenal history in this community, but not a lot of people know a lot about it,” said Erica Williams, historical society president.

She hopes the book will make money for the society, and give the group more exposure.

“The book is mostly to do with people. Readers will come away from it with some new connections. I’m really quite pleased with it.”

The columns were published from 1987 to 1991. Nickols said it is just Volume 1. She chose only the most relevant and best columns, but said there will be at least one more book, and “probably five,” to properly chronicle the history.

She first saw the book a week ago and said, “I was quite delighted.

“They’ve done a wonderful job, and I’m very gratified to see them all published.”

The celebration will be held Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with food vendors, live entertainment, tours and of course the book launch.

“We’re hoping we’ll get a good turnout,” said Williams. “I’m excited.

“As many as people as can come – please come.”