In 1957, the Maple Ridge Historical Society was formed; a group of like-minded individuals who saw the rich culture of the yet-fledgling Haney Port and knew it must be preserved.

Forty four years later, Val Patenaude is the current executive director of the Society, and a lot has changed in Haney over the last 50 years. “We are here to preserve and share the community history with current and former residents,” Val said. “We are about this community, for this community, about families that lived, and still live here.”

MRHS operates almost all of our local historical landmarks – Haney House, St. Andrews Heritage Church, the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives, the Old Post Office and the Wharf office, and, as one can imagine, a great deal of time and funds are required to keep these heritage buildings looking the way they once did.

In 2002, MRHS received a $5,000 grant from the Maple Ridge Community Foundation, and used it to help restore many of these venerable buildings. As with any non-profit society, funds are always in short supply for any number of pet projects and the aid of a grant like this helped provide some relief for restorative maintenance on precious pieces of history. There were three specific projects MRHS had in mind: to refinish the trim on St. Andrews Church, to paint the Old Post Office, and repaint the old CPR caboose.

Dick Sutcliffe was in charge of restoring and repainting the caboose, one of a very few remaining all wood cabooses from pre-WW2 days. “Colour technicians came from Benjamin Moore to get samples, and when we were matching paint on the caboose, we found parts that still had the original paint, and they scanned them and matched them,” Dick said. The restoration of the caboose to its old glory has drawn many train enthusiasts to the Maple Ridge Museum, as well as being the subject of research by a number of model manufacturers.

The MRHS, who is waiting for get on the city’s five-year-plan before going full-steam ahead fundraising for a new museum and archives, depends heavily on volunteers for projects like these. “The work that was done on the buildings was done mostly, if not all, by volunteers. We spent most of the summer working at it,” Dick said. When asked why funding is so important to local non-profit organizations like the MRHS, Dick replied, “It gives us an opportunity to do projects that we can use volunteers for, because you’ve got money to pay for supplies.”

“You can get better quality materials, so they last longer,” Val added. “It’s so important to do preventative maintenance for historical buildings and structures.” Support the Maple Ridge Historical Society with its invaluable restoration work.

Story by Julie MacIsaac

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