A Man Named Tom and a Man Named Henry

Sullivan, the area centred around 152nd Street and 64th Avenue, was once the economic heart of Surrey. It certainly didn’t happen over night, and there were many early community champions that contributed to Sullivan becoming a stop on the map. Today there are restaurants and athletic parks in the area, but if you look very closely, you’ll be able to see the reminders of Sullivan’s history.

The very first settler was a man named James Johnston, who landed in 1866, and carved out six sections of land along 152nd Street (originally named Johnston Road) between Highway 10 (used to be New McLellan Road) and Fraser Highway (was once Old Yale Wagon Road). They lived as farmers and opened the chapter of Sullivan to becoming a very important community.

Henry Sullivan settled in Surrey in 1890 after a stint in Everett, Washington. Originally hailing from Ireland, Henry came to Surrey to log ‘the finest Timber he had ever seen’. A fellow Irish immigrant, Tom Hiland joined forces with Henry and his brothers Tom and Jerry to form the Sullivan and Hiland Logging Company in 1901, and were so successful that they formed the Surrey Shingle and Manufacturing Company just four years later in 1905. At their height, they employed 125 people, and would produce 16,000 shingles and 35,500 board feet of lumber each day.

Sullivan and Hiland’s companies had a modest beginning. They would hand-log the immediate Sullivan District and exported the logs using the Alluvia Station on the Victoria Terminal Railway. Lumber and shingles were hauled by sled along a skid road from the logging operations all the way to the station. In 1910, the BC Electric Railway made things much easier for the entrepreneurs. Sullivan and Hiland built the Sullivan Station connecting the BC Electric Railway to Cloverdale and Newton, so the lumber and shingles manufactured in Surrey travelled to Vancouver and New Westminster via the new railway.

Sullivan Station became a hub of activity, with general stores, community halls, and schools being built close by. The Sullivans were prominent community members, with Tom Sullivan becoming Mayor of Surrey from 1910 to 1921, rendering him Surrey’s longest consecutively-elected Mayor, and Jerry Sullivan running the Sullivan Store.

You can re-live the early days of Sullivan right here in 2016. A portion of the BC Electric Railway still runs between Newton and Cloverdale on weekends until October 2nd, thanks to the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society.

**Photo courtesy of the Surrey Archives