Heritage

The Douglas Firs towering over Christ Church today are second growth. It’s hard to imagine the primeval forest in 1872 when Abraham Huck and his family arrived to make this hillside their homestead.

Abe Huck is the first settler on record. He was a veteran of the Union Army in the American Civil War, an entrepreneur and a benefactor. By 1875 when the Coast Meridian (168th Street) was opening up and Old McLellan Road built, an addition to the Huck home housed Surrey Centre’s first store and post office. When Surrey Centre was chosen in 1881 as the site for the newly formed district municipality hall, Abe Huck clinched the deal by donating four acres where Surrey Centre School now stands.

The Rt. Rev. Sillitoe, First Bishop of New Westminster, arrived from England in 1880 and immediately sent out an appeal for men to serve “this very lovely place.” Quick to respond was Mr. Wm. Bell who was serving a rural mission in Ontario. He was ordained by the bishop March 13, 1881. One year later, April 10, 1882, Bell chaired a meeting of six men and the founding of the parish of Christ Church. Abe Huck donated an acre of land for the building.

The building materials were made into a raft and pike-poled down the river by the Rev. Bell. Forced to spend a night on the raft which stuck on a sand bar, he explained it was “because I’d been too busy to say my prayers before setting out.” Mr. Wade, who had the church bell installed in memory of his son, hitched up his team of oxen to haul the materials to the site. In Bishop Sillitoe’s memoirs we read, “the people laboured so enthusiastically on their church that on September 28 [1894] … it was ready for opening, just seven weeks from laying the foundation stone.” Cost, including Contractor Flood’s fee: $1199.48.

Surrey’s first church, Christ Church was designated an official Heritage Site in 1978. A new cedar shingle roof was installed at that time and in the past two years a complete exterior restoration and painting undertaken in co-operation with Surrey Heritage Commission and B.C. Heritage Trust. The interior of the church is substantially as it was in 1884.

The doors of Christ Church have never been closed. The bell has continued to ring out across the countryside calling people to prayer, celebrating weddings, tolling out the years of a lifetime, evoking ancient hopes and the assurance of God’s presence.

Tours of Christ Church and the surrounding historic cemetery are encouraged. To arrange a time for the church to be open, contact the church office  at 604-576-2216. Location Scouts wanting information and access regarding movie/commercial filming, contact the church office.

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