Milestones in Fleetwood History

City of Surrey


Fleetwood history first came to light in the early 1900s, when a flock of new immigrants to Canada settled in the area. Of these individuals, James and Edith Francis became strong establishers of the community. Edith’s immediate family, the Fleetwoods, joined shortly after. Among them was Arthur Thomas Fleetwood, also referred to as Tom Fleetwood.


World War I erupts in Europe and the superpowers of the world mobilize, thus leaving the community of Fleetwood to ponder the future. When the War was declared, many immigrants from England, such as the Fleetwoods, felt honour bound to support their former home and country.


Alike other English immigrants who enlisted to fight the conflict across the Atlantic, Edith’s brother, Arthur (Tom) Fleetwood, wanted to defend his home country. Consequently, in August 1915, he joined the 46th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.


Grave news reaches the Fleetwoods. In September of 1917, Tom passed away from battle wounds sustained in combat. Edith was devastated at the loss of her brother.


Edith, along with residents of the community, founded the Fleetwood Community Association to honour her brother's death. Edith applied for a charter to the provincial government to name the community he lived in after him. Residents of Surrey who wished to have a voice in the community's public affairs joined the Fleetwood Community Association. Over the next few decades, the area grew and became a bigger community. In the 1930s, the Fleetwood Community Hall was built to provide a space necessary for social functions and community meetings. Later on, community spirit and volunteer labour created the 120 acre Fleetwood Park, located on 80th Avenue, between 156th and 160th Streets.


In the 1930’s, there was a boom of immigrants as those seeking haven from the Great Depression migrated to Fleetwood. Fleetwood’s land and access were condusive to surviving the economice strife. The Drought in the Prairies also saw the migration of Canadians westward, and resulted in an increased Fleetwood population. Poultry farming became the occupation of choice in the area, and Fleetwood became a residential hub for families both working in the immediate area and abroad.


The Second World War caused a significant population growth in the Fleetwood area as housing shortages in Vancouver and New Westminster forced people to look for housing outside of the immediate bustling city areas, favoring to branch out into the Fraser Valley. Because of the influx, Fleetwood Elementary School was built in 1944. The conclusion of World War II allowed the clearing and development of Surrey's upland areas. Settlement began to increase, and Fleetwood developed into not just merely a residential haven, but a commercial and retail space, as well as possessing the Wander Inn at Coast Meridian and Pacific Highway, and Bruce Brown's and Bert Grantham's General Stores. This was only the beginning of Fleetwood's urbanization and would continue for decades.


Leap forward to 2013. The owner of the Fleetwood Arms Pub decided to rename the business after the founders of Fleetwood as Edith + Arthur Public House to unite the residents of Fleetwood with its unforgettable history.


Today, a strong community has emerged in memory of the history of Tom Fleetwood and his family. On the bench right outside of the Fleetwood Community Centre sits a life-size sculpture of Tom Fleetwood himself. Within the vicinity, Francis Park was since named after Edith Francis to memorialize her contributions to the Fleetwood area. Fleetwood history continues into the present day as the area's businesses have grown in the hundreds, consisting of diversely owned restaurants, grocery stores, automotive shops and other specialty stores servicing the community.