By Val Patenaude/Special to The News
It is interesting to think about what Maple Ridge’s Japanese community would have made of their buildings that have survived.
The Buddhist temple survived because it was immediately adopted as a Christian church, though it later found a more secular life as a pub.
Residential housing is probably the most reusable of buildings, so it is not surprising that many Japanese homes still stand.
The real surprise is the former Japanese kindergarten building, which started as a modest structure near the intersection of 232nd Street and Dewdney Trunk Road.
Kindergarten classes for non-Japanese were not available at that time as they were considered unnecessary.
The Japanese community wanted their children to thrive in the English-speaking schools of the district, so language skills were the main goal.
Following the Japanese internment during the Second World War, the building did not stand empty for long before it attracted a local club – the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
In later years it was used as a private home for a while, and then in the 1970s was used by Roger’s Cable TV as a production studio for local footage.
The big change came in 1989, when Esso Canada wanted to build a gas station at the building’s location and donated it to the city.
Then Maple Ridge Mayor Bill Hartley – along with many volunteers and donors – had the building moved to its current location at 11739 223rd St.
It was given over to the Fraser Information Society – a community group with the objective of providing education on environment and development concerns including classes, lectures, and a resource library.
During the past 30 years, the society evolved into the CEED Centre [Community Education on Environment and Development], which has gone far beyond its humble roots as an environmental information provider and is now a social centre for Port Haney – serving youth and seniors and all between with a variety of programs aimed at building community.
One program is called “SAGE,” that means “Seniors Activity Group, Eh,” which is primarily aimed at caregivers for people with dementia. It gives them a break, some activity, and the company of people walking the same path.
The pandemic has hit this community particularly hard as loved ones in hospital can’t even be visited. Call the centre at 604-463-2229 or go to CEEDcentre.com for more information about the group.
A new asset for the CEED Centre is the new Beckett Park, which acknowledges an important pioneer family while also providing Port Haney with needed park space.
It also allows the CEED Centre, in these days of COVID, to have programs outdoors where safe conditions are easier to maintain.
I believe the Japanese ancestors would be most pleased with the life this little building has had and continues to have – especially since it has held to the education mission for most of it.
Val Patenaude is director of the Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives
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