In the mall’s Centre Court area from June 25 to July 9, the “What We Bring” exhibit features objects and artifacts that Surrey-area people and families brought when they first immigrated to Canada.
The showcase builds on a related exhibit at the Museum of Surrey, which is currently closed for a renovation/expansion project.
In June, mall operators put out a call for items for “What We Bring,” which can be viewed during regular mall hours at Guildford, at the corner of 104th Avenue and 152nd Street.
“We are very pleased to bring this exhibit to our shoppers here,” said Kyla Way, marketing director at Guildford Town Centre. “It provides our shoppers with the opportunity to engage with the Museum of Surrey in our Centre while bringing the community together.”
Items on display include an antique trunk brought to Canada in 1914 by nine-year-old Elizabeth Muir — Way’s grandmother — when she immigrated to Canada from Scotland aboard the RMS Hesperian.
One of more than 100,000 British “Home Children” sent to Canada from Great Britain between 1869 and the late 1940s, Muir was given the two-foot-by-one-foot box to make her journey, and it held everything she had in the world when she came to Canada.
Also displayed is a hand-embroidered wedding gown brought to Canada by Dalia Al Husseini from Palestine. “The gown was worn by Dalia at her wedding and was given to her by her mother in 2009. It is painstakingly handstitched by Palestinian refugee and expert embroiderer Raghad Hatahet,” according to an event advisory.
Also featured is a teddy bear lent by Trudy Deichen of Surrey. The toy was won by Deichen’s father for her at a state fair in Washington State when she was eight years old. “Her father Jimmy Parker worked as a logger,” according to the advisory. “Trudy was born in Bellingham and grew up on Orcas Island. Her family was a pioneer family on Orcas for hundreds of years, and their items are still displayed in the local museum. She later immigrated to Canada with her husband who was a teacher. The bear is one of only two items Trudy has left from her childhood.”
A cake pan loaned by Surrey resident Sharon Clayton is also on display. “The items were brought to Canada by Sharon’s mother Marjorie Kentish Davis who lived in Jamaica and who met her husband Kenneth MacRae Campbell in Jamaica. He was a piper in the Canadian army. Mary was a war bride from Jamaica to Canada. There were many war brides from England to Canada, but not many know about women from Jamaica to Canada. The items were lent by Sharon Joan MacRae Campbell (now Clayton) who was the first-born child of Marjorie Kentish Davis. She was born in Jamaica. The cake pan on display and recipe were Sharon’s mothers. The pan was used to make Jamaican Christmas Pudding a traditional pudding that was steamed.”
Also displayed is a briefcase from Thailand on loan from Win Zaw of Surrey. He has lived in Canada for 30 years. “Before he came to Canada he was a refugee from Myanmar (Burma) to Thailand. On display is a photo ID from a refugee labor camp where he lived in Thailand. The briefcase was purchased in Thailand and came to Canada when Mr. Zaw immigrated. He said inside were his few possessions including 500 Thai Baht — about $20 Canadian.”
In collecting items, event organizers heard “so many deeply sentimental stories and learning that this exhibit matters to the people of Surrey,” said Colleen Sharpe, curator of exhibits with the Museum of Surrey. “Our vision is to be the best people’s museum in Canada. And so, with this exhibit, it is important for us to be in a public location such as Guildford Town Centre and to talk to people who may not often visit the Museum. We want to tell the stories of the people of Surrey.”