Elgin Centre School — Surrey, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Dunbar Loop
N 49° 03.970 W 122° 49.345
10U E 512972 N 5434825
Quick Description: This school was a hub in the neighbourhood of Port Elgin. It represents how the community came together to ensure their children got a good education.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 3/3/2022 5:09:51 PM
Waymark Code: WM15VQ6
Views: 0

Long Description:
Port Elgin was a community on the Semiahmoo Trail linking Blaine, Washington to New Westminster, British Columbia. This small place is where the trail crossed the Nicomelk River and was the site of the first customs house.

The community gradually faded away when the Great Northern Railway was built through Hazelmere and Cloverdale. At this time it lost its customs house to Douglas, on the Canada / United States border. Even when the GNR built their new line hugging the Salish Sea shoreline, Port Elgin did not regain its importance.

However, Port Elgin was a centre for the farming community there with a small commercial hub that remains to this day, a community hall, and the Elgin Centre School. Even the name evolved from Port Elgin to Elgin Centre and finally just Elgin. A name that remains today for the suburban neighbourhood that is south of Nicomekl River.

The school was built in 1921 and served the children of the community well. Two years later the Elgin Hall was built 400 meters west of the school in 1923.

Port Elgin continued to thrive as one of the few crossing points across the Nicomekl River between New Westminster and Blaine. However, in the 1930s the Fraser Highway and the Pacific Highway (176 Street today) opened taking highway traffic that way. Port Elgin just continued as a quiet farming community until 1940 when the King George VI Highway opened just 200 meters east of the school.

Gas stations, motels, and campgrounds were also built on the high-speed route - for the era that is. When the United States adopted the United States Numbered Highway System in 1926 and developed Highway 99 running from Calexico, California to Blaine, Washington, the Province of British Columbia adopted Highway 99 when King George VI Highway opened. This reinforced the importance of linking Vancouver to Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and right to the Mexican border.

King George VI Highway dominance as the most important route serving Port Elgin only lasted just over two decades when the Vancouver-Blaine Thruway opened using the George Massey Tunnel. This route bypassed Port Elgin. However, it allowed the area to enter in a new era of development.

The Elgin Centre School closed and gave its name to Elgin Park Secondary School a few kilometers west of here. Gradually the area south of the Nicomekl River has been becoming more and more suburban.

This school saw the focus of Port Elgin change from a farming community to a suburban one. Over 100 years the Elgin Centre School has watched its community change while the building reminds people of what was here before.


City of Surrey Heritage Site: 7

Registered: June 3, 1997

Surrey Heritage Designation Bylaw, 1980, No. 6442
Type of Marker: Cultural

Type of Sign: Historic Site or Building Marker

Describe the parking that is available nearby: On-street parking

What Agency placed the marker?: Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission

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