Many of the students attending Kennedy School in 1939 were Japanese-Canadians. (UBC Archives photo)

North Delta’s history set to take centre stage at George Mackie Library

The Delta Museum and Archives Society is hosting a series of talks on North Delta’s history

The Delta Museum and Archives Society is gearing up to host a series of free talks focused on the unique history of North Delta.

The society’s North Delta advisory group has partnered with the George Mackie Library to present three talks over the coming month to help residents learn about the people and events that shaped North Delta as we know it today.

The events are the latest in a string of moves the society has made to expand its focus beyond South Delta and preserve the history and stories of Delta as a whole.

RELATED: Delta residents share their memories to mark Canada’s 150th birthday

Last spring, the society hosted a well-attended informal gathering to hear from local history buffs, heritage groups and others regarding their concerns and ideas for preserving and presenting Delta’s history.

“We were very encouraged by the enthusiastic response from the North Delta community. Many of the people that attended expressed a concerned interest for the documentation of North Delta’s history and the opportunity for all Deltans to learn about it,” said DMAS president Teresa Cooper in an email.

“From this event, the North Delta advisory group was formed as a way to ensure that the heritage of North Delta was as equally represented in our community as the heritage of South Delta.”

Since then, the advisory group has been busy planning ways to collect the previously untold stories of North Delta and connect with the people who live in the community.

“These history talks are the first attempt to share the stories of three of our cultural groups that make up the fabric of Delta’s cultural heritage,” Cooper said.

The talks get underway on Saturday, Feb. 3, as Eliza Olson, the founder and president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, and longtime bog advocate Don DeMill tell their stories of Burns Bog. Attendees will hear about the event-filled history of the largest raised peat bog in North America, tales from local First Nations, attempts at ranching and farming, and the suspenseful fight to preserve the bog’s ecology. Olson and DeMill will be assisted by DMAS members Sandra Clark, Valerie Adolph and Brenda Macdonald.

Then, on Saturday, Feb. 10, DMAS members Mark Boyter, Nancy Demwell (who writes a monthly North Delta history column for the North Delta Reporter), John Macdonald and Len Stroh will present on the largely forgotten history of Japanese settlement in North Delta. The speakers will share true stories about the lives of the early Japanese settlers, farmers and fishermen, talk about where they lived, their contributions to the community and their final evacuation to internment camps during the Second World War, and a selection of historical images.

SEE ALSO: SERIES: Commemorating North Delta’s lost Japanese-Canadian community

The series will wrap up with a talk titled “Who the heck is Annie?” on March 3. DMAS member Valerie Adolph, assisted by members Les Starheim, Gordon Lande and Rita Hagman, will tell stories of how Norwegian fishermen carved their homes out of the dense forests along the Fraser River to build what is now known as Annieville and Sunbury. Attendees will be able to browse historical images and explore artifacts of these fishing communities, and maybe even discover who Annieville’s namesake was.

All three talks will be held in the George Mackie Library’s meeting room 3 at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

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A Japanese-Canadian chicken farm on Horel Road (now 92nd Avenue) in North Delta in 1923. (UBC Archives photo)

The Delta Eastern pulls a flat car loaded with shingle bolts through the forest in North Delta circa 1914. Caption on the back of the photo reads, “Wes. H. Thompson and his ‘dinkey’ hauling shingle bolts.” (Photo courtesy of the Delta Archives, photograph #CR-133 2004-11-14)

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