Donning a top hat, coat-tails and a bushy salt-and-pepper beard, Mayor Deb Walters channeled the ghost of John Blaney, Pitt Meadows’ first reeve, to call the city’s inaugural council meeting to order.
One hundred years to the day of incorporation, six pioneers immediately got down to business, their modern counterparts decked out in period costumes to recreate the momentous event on Friday.
Bill Park, a former fire chief and grandson of the city’s first clerk, William James Park, watched from the front row as council hired and swore in its first constable, played by Staff Sgt. Major John Buis, who was dressed in a North West Mounted Police uniform from the 1800s and sported a coiffed, curled moustache.
Council of the day passed resolutions to borrow money, send a delegation to Victoria, and instruct the clerk to write to Ottawa to inquire about a wharf at the end of Harris Road.
Leslie Norman, the curator of Pitt Meadow Museum and Archives, described the meeting, held in the Number 1 School Building, as “short, pragmatic and quick.”
Much has changed and much hasn’t, says Mayor Walters, reminiscing about a time when the municipality had a population of less than 250.
The present council now boasts four strong women, while debates about salaries and taxes continue to this day. Just like it did in 1914, Pitt Meadows is still begging Ottawa to chip in a fair share of tax dollars to build roads and fix bridges.
“There are still the same problems and same issues, but everything is at a much larger scale,” Walters said.
On Friday, each member of Pitt Meadows council portrayed a peer from 1914, whose names now grace city streets: Bruce Bell was William R. McMyn; Dave Murray was Robert Sharpe; Janis Elkerton played William Reid; Gwen O’Connell was Roland Thomson, a First World War veteran who was killed in Somme in 1916; Tracy Miyashita, tucked her hair under a top hat, and wore a thick handle-bar moustache to evoke William Richardson.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin took on the role of his district’s reeve John C. McFarlane as council re-enacted a public hearing from 1915 to settle a dispute about a tiny, jagged sliver of land between the adjacent municipalities.
Between 4,000 and 5,000 people visited Pitt Meadows’ civic centre to celebrate the city’s 100th birthday on Friday, an event followed by a gala Saturday, which drew a perfectly costumed crowd of 180.
“Often when we celebrate one of life’s milestones, we pause for a moment to reflect upon our past, present and future and the celebration of Pitt Meadows centennial is no different,” Walters added.
“It’s our history and we learn from it. From our humble beginning, we have seen growth and development, experienced struggles and celebrations and everything in between. Our future looks strong and prosperous and Pitt Meadows is a community to be proud of. I take great pride in saying this is home.”
For centennial coordinator Erin Mark, the festivities were unforgettable.
“The response was phenomenal,” said Mark.
A hundred volunteers helped both events run smoothly and Mark reminds residents that the celebrations will continue until the end of the year.