Michael Gibbs, president of the Surrey Historical Society, inspects vandalized grave markers in the Surrey Centre Cemetery April 27. Gibbs wondered if it might be time to install security cameras in the 139-year-old cemetery. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Gravestones vandalized at Surrey Centre Cemetery

Pioneer headstones toppled in Cloverdale

Seven grave markers were knocked over last week in Surrey Centre Cemetery.

The graves stones were nearly all one metre or taller in height and were in the pioneer section of the cemetery, where most graves are more than 100 years old.

“It’s absolutely horrible,” said Michael Gibbs, president of the Surrey Historical Society. “I don’t understand why someone would do something like this.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Historical Society president offers advice on staying connected and sharing one’s ‘heritage’ during pandemic

SEE ALSO: BCHF cancels history conference set for Cloverdale

Sue Bryant, a member of the Surrey Historical Society, said she first heard about the vandalism April 26 through the “Friends of West Cloverdale” Facebook page.

“I went up right away and took a bunch of photos,” said Bryant. “Several of the older headstones on the City side of the pioneer section of the cemetery were damaged.”

The damaged grave markers include families such as: McCallum, Elliott, Acorn, Wood, and others.

Bryant gives cemetery tours and is very familiar with the stories of the families that are interred in the graveyard.

“This is very sad, given some of the damaged headstones date back to the late 1800s, early 1900s, and at least two are of children less than a year old.”

Bryant said the pioneer grave sites occupy a part of the graveyard that is somewhat secluded.

“You can’t see the area from any houses. I’ve been there late at night and I’ve seen a lot of people hanging out there.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Centre Cemetery a wealth of history

SEE ALSO: Cloverdale’s Scott family honoured at Surrey Centre Cemetery

Bryant said the only other vandalism at Surrey Centre Cemetery that she can remember happened about 25 years ago.

“In the mid-90s, a big group of (gravestones) were vandalized.”

Gibbs wondered if, given the profile of the pioneers, the historical value of the pioneer section, and its century-old markers, it wasn’t time for some more security.

“I think we need some cameras in here,” noted Gibbs. “This cemetery is part of our heritage.”

“Cemetery staff have started the process to repair the monuments which were vandalized last week,” wrote Laurie Cavan in an email to the Cloverdale Reporter. “The contractor expects to have the repairs completed by the end of this week (May 1).”

Cavan, the general manager of the Parks, Recreation, and Culture department, said the repair work will restore the grave markers in such a way that they’ll retain their historic appearance.

“To prevent future vandalism, the repaired monuments will be fastened with a metal rod through the monument into its base,” added Cavan. “It is rare for historic monuments in Surrey to be defaced or damaged by acts of vandalism.”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CloverdalegraveyardSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford International Airshow opening 50-year-old time capsule

Bronze time capsule was put together to commemorate AIA as Canada’s National Airshow

Rainfall records fell in deluge Saturday across the Fraser Valley

The steady rain broke the May 30 record in Chilliwack for rain with one day total of 31.7 mm

Abbotsford’s UFV gym now without a sponsor

Partnership with Envision Financial ends, school seeking new organizations to partner with

Road washout affecting section of Highway No. 3 near Manning Park

Road maintenance crews are on the scene, with an almost two kilometre long stretch impacted

CBC Bearcats hire Rebecca Garner as women’s volleyball head coach

Abbotsford-based team hires former Bearcat, Briercrest star to lead program

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

UPDATE: B.C.’s Central Kootenay issues evacuation orders for hundreds of residents due to flooding

An evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

PHOTOS: Thousands gather at Vancouver Art Gallery to protest racism

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Number of students returning is a wild card as B.C. schools reopen Monday

A common model will see other teachers work four days a week in class then the fifth remotely,

Human Rights Tribunal denies church’s request to toss out White Rock Pride Society’s complaint

Star of the Sea and White Rock Pride Society to go to Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Most Read