Strawberry Hill, Surrey
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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Strawberry Hill is a neighbourhood in Newton, in the northwestern part of Surrey, B.C., situated on former agricultural land. It is situated east of 120 Street, west of 128 Street, north of 72 Avenue and South of 96 Avenue. The area consists of private residences, public schools, and commercial businesses. Local landmarks include Strawberry Hill Elementary School, Strawberry Hill Library and Strawberry Hill Park.
Surrey's Strawberry Hill has historic, scientific, cultural and social value to the history of Japanese Canadians in B.C., particularly for its representation of their influence in the province's agricultural industry, the legacy of internment, and the perseverance of those Japanese Canadians who returned to the coast after 1949.
Strawberry Hill is significant because of the local Japanese Canadian community's contribution to B.C.'s strong agricultural industry and agricultural labour organizations through the early farmers who settled in the rich agricultural uplands of the Strawberry Hill neighbourhood in Surrey. The origins of the Strawberry Hill community are deeply tied to Japanese Canadian families who managed to acquire land in the area and begin berry and poultry farming among the stumps of just-harvested old growth timber in the early 1900s, making strawberry, raspberry, and gooseberry growing a thriving industry prior to 1940.
As the number of strawberry growers increased following World War I, the industry faced challenges of overproduction, lack of markets and lack of price control. Significantly, this accelerated anti-Japanese sentiment in the area, as other local farmers, unable to compete with the Japanese Canadians, blamed them for the low price of berries. This necessitated the creation, by Japanese Canadian farmers, of the Surrey Berry Growers' Co-operative Association and the Strawberry Hill Farmers' Institute, or Nokai, organizations that helped the industry expand into the profitable produce market, promote their product, and establish a system of quality and price controls for the berry crop. The Farmer's Institute was located in Berry Hall where farmers met and learned about their trade and worked cooperatively.
Social and cultural value is found in the participation and financial support of Japanese Canadian families in community projects, such as Strawberry Hill's community hall and the Strawberry Hill Japanese Language School. Still existing buildings, such as Strawberry Hill Farmer's Institute Hall (a City of Surrey Community Heritage Register site) and the Strawberry Hill Elementary School attest to the importance of the Japanese Canadian presence in the area.
As with all Japanese Canadians on the B.C. coast, Strawberry Hill is significant for the impact on its agricultural industry by the forced internment of its farmers and the seizure and liquidation of their homes and farms during World War II. Poultry farming and berry cultivation in the area were hugely impacted by the removal of Japanese Canadian farm owners and workers, with poultry farms disposing of their flocks at short notice and strawberry fields deprived of the necessary expert management and labour for their continued cultivation. Despite this, it is notable that Strawberry Hill is the location of one of the only tracts of Japanese Canadian-owned land returned to its original owner, farmer Zennosuke Inouye, following World War II.
Strawberry Hill and its name reflects the cultural and economic significance of the strawberry-growing endeavours of the early Japanese Canadian farming families and their important contribution to the berry and agriculture industries in B.C.
Source: Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch
Province of British Columbia
Heritage Conservation Act, s.18
Provincially Recognized Heritage Site (Recognized)
1900/01/01 to 1942/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Food Supply
- Farm or Ranch
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch
Cross-Reference to Collection