Maple Ridge will be getting a new park thanks to the generosity of a couple who made the city their home at a time when it was considered a small town.
Margaret (Mollie) Elsie Fairey and her late husband Jim decided to donate their property before 2004, the year Jim passed away, as they were childless and wanted to give back to the neighbourhood in which they once lived.
Margaret passed away in July last year in her home on the property that she lived in for 72 years.
“The City is incredibly grateful and we would like to thank the family for this very generous donation to our community,” said Mayor Dan Ruimy.
“We will honour Mollie’s legacy and create a neighbourhood park for the community to enjoy and spend time together. In her 100 years of life Mollie spent 75 of them in Maple Ridge and witnessed many changes as we grew from a small town of 7,000 residents to nearly 100,000 when she passed on July 30 of last year,” Ruimy elaborated.
Margaret was born in Essex, England, in 1921 and met Jim in 1946, who was serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. The couple were married in England and Margaret had to wait more than eight months to immigrate to Canada after the Second World War as she was one of 48,000 war brides. She would follow Jim to Port Haney, arriving in 1947, and they built their home on the one-acre property at 21416 Dewdney Trunk Road – where the new park will be located.
According to Margaret’s obituary, while she was separated from Jim during the war, they exchanged more than 100 love letters. Margaret, affectionately called Aunt Mollie in the obit, worked for 21 years at the White Store, a fixture in Haney at Laity Street and Lougheed Highway.
“Mollie always said marrying Jim, coming to Canada and enjoying their 57-year marriage in Maple Ridge was her best life-decision,” wrote her family.
Now the city’s Parks Recreation and Culture Department is developing a business plan and capital funding for the park and the hopes is that public engagement for the future park’s design will be part of the 2026 work plan – followed by detailed design and construction.
“As is our practice, we will conduct community engagement on the park amenities with the neighbourhood in a few years’ time and we will honour Mollie and Jim’s legacy and generosity when we open this new park site,” said Valoree Richmond, director of Parks and Facilities.
Margaret and Jim’s family is hoping council will approve the name as Fairey Park where dogs will be welcome – as Margaret loved her own dogs – “most of whom she enduringly outlived,” the obituary read.
The one-acre property is valued at approximately $3 million.
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