A warm thank you to the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission for the heritage commendation, recognizing my latest book Whonnock: Pictures of the Past last Friday.
The event brought back memories of a similar ceremony in 2004 when I received a heritage award certificate from the hands of Mayor Gordon Robson.
On that occasion I made three wishes.
The first wish was quickly fulfilled. The little dead-end piece of 268th Street leading up from River Road was renamed Byrnes Road in memory of the family of First War veteran Henry Byrnes who farmed at the top of that street and in particular Brian Byrnes, famous Whonnockian and local historian. Thank you, Gordy!
After two decades my second wish seems closer to fulfillment than ever. I wished for municipal and provincial recognition and protection of the graveyard of pioneer Robert Robertson and his family on Byrnes Road. Wished that they would rest there in peace forever. It was a long haul, but I understand that after lengthy legal procedures it looks as if by the end of this year the family graveyard may become the property of the City of Maple Ridge.
My third wish? Maple Ridge should have an archives building like the one in Mission with a fireproof and climate-controlled vault to keep records safe, and free from moist and mould. Records, that is documents rather than artifacts or published material, are the irreplaceable raw material or first-hand information, source material that is closest to the event.
I was then and am still exceedingly worried about the survival of the municipal records: minute books, those huge assessment/collection books, correspondence, maps, etc. that are stored somewhere but never safe enough.
And what about our community records? We know that Maple Ridge Museum and Archives takes care of the records in their collection the best they can, but they don’t have access to climate-controlled storage either. Besides, they hardly have enough space for adding new material, and a fire could easily wipe out what they are taking care of: our past – your past.
I figured 20 years ago that at some time soon an archives building would be constructed in Maple Ridge. It will never happen, you say? Perhaps you are right. But, funny, I keep dreaming.
Fred Braches, Maple Ridge
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