Jan 252013

Now House PresentationOn February 5th at 6:30pm at the Maple Ridge Council Chambers, Lorraine Gauthier of the Now House Project (http://www.nowhouseproject.com/) will make a presentation about communities working together to help local residents reduce their heating costs and help the environment by energy-retrofitting older homes. By banding together, residents can purchase materials, labour and project management expertise in bulk at reduced rates.

The event is free and everyone is welcome. Check out the press release for more information.

 Posted by at 7:49 pm
Jan 092013

How much do you spend to heat your house and heat your water? Imagine your heating costs averaged out to zero and your home stayed a uniform, comfortable temperature all year long. That’s Leanne and my dream for our upcoming home renovation, but it’s exhausting to try to do this on your own.

A few weeks ago I (James Rowley) went to a lecture at SFU that blew me away. Lorraine Gauthier of The Now House Project described how they retro-fitted one house north of Toronto, then five houses in Windsor, then 95 more houses in Windsor so that the houses produced more energy than they consumed over the course of the year. With each renovation they refined their technique and lowered costs. They identified two barriers stopping everyone from doing this: cost and local expertise.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:37 pm
Sep 282012

Folks who live in Hammond are accustomed (if grudgingly) to the frequent train whistles. We may complain, but the whistles are there for a good reason – to prevent tragedies.

On the right is Bobby and Margaret Rock (nee Erickson), taken in the early 1950s. On July 10, 1954 they were killed by a passenger train on the Lorne Road crossing in Hammond. They were 23 years old. (The other couple is Doug and Rose Airth on their wedding day.)

The Rocks were survived by their three children: Robert, who was turning four the following September; Trudy, turning three in October; and Treva, who had turned one on the previous fourth of July.

Treva recently posted the above photo on Facebook. Many people came forward with their memories of the couple, which were very much appreciated by Treva. Some commented on Treva’s resemblance to her Mom and Dad, and also to her grandmother who raised her after she lost her parents.

In the face of such a tragedy, it’s easy to stop complaining about the train whistles.


 Posted by at 3:46 pm
Sep 052012

The HUB cycling group is organizing a “Discover Hammond” cycling tour on September 15, 2012. The ride will be led by Ian McLeod, who has an interest in “land use, transportation and civic culture in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland” and writes about these issues on his blog Fraseropolis.com, and who, together with Claus Andrup, recently published the booklet Aesthetic Maple Ridge.

The meeting points for the ride are:

10:00 – Memorial Peace Park (@ blue fountains)
10:20 – Ridge Meadows College on Thorne Ave.
10:45 – coffee break and chat at Stomping Grounds Coffee House at Osprey Village, Pitt Meadows
11:30 – meeting place for Hammond Neighbours: where Katzie reservation road and Wharf Street meet (by Golden Ears Bridge)

After a tour of Hammond of probably about an hour or so, the ride will end in Hammond. Those who wish can ride back to downtown Maple Ridge with us. The distance of the ride from Memorial Peace Park to Hammond is approx. 13 km.

See the HUB website for more information.

 Posted by at 10:27 pm
Aug 122012

Hammond is traditionally sub-divided into two areas: “Upper Hammond” (north of the railway tracks) and “Lower Hammond” (south of the railway tracks). Lower Hammond is an enclave, with only two roads that enable access: Ditton Street and Lorne Avenue.

Residents of Lower Hammond are justly fond of their quiet neighbourhood, with Tolmie Park as a centerpiece, bounded by the river, the greenway (and giant sand pile) around the Golden Ears Bridge and the undeveloped Katzie lands.  Some of the buildings on Wharf Street seem like reminders from the past, with small ship-yards and docks. (The ‘Port’ in Port Hammond was the landing at the river’s edge of Hazelwood Street.) However, in days gone by, Lower Hammond was considered “the wrong side of the tracks.”

When I use the phrase “wrong side of the tracks”, I immediately envision 50s-style greasers with slicked-back hair and black leather jackets and their gum-snapping cigarette-smoking girlfriends. Lower Hammond’s reputation goes back much farther than that, though, and it actually has more to do with geography than hooliganism.

View Larger Map

Lower Hammond slopes down to the Fraser River. Wharf Street, which runs along the river bank, is built on top of a dyke. When you walk along Wharf Street, if the river is on your left the houses on your right are almost completely below the top of the dyke. This low-lying land was subject to flooding and generally unsuitable for building, and was therefore much less expensive than the land in Upper Hammond (which has a higher elevation). Up until the 70s, when sanitary sewers were installed, buildings in Lower Hammond relied on septic tanks.

Chinese immigrants came to Hammond in the 1880s to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Some built shacks along Wharf Street in Lower Hammond. The Louie family is remembered as a “pioneer” family; Nellie Louie ran a store in the front area of her home which was on Wharf Street immediately east of Princess Street. (If any descendants of the Louie family happen to read this article, please get in touch – we’d be very interested in learning about your family’s history and experiences in Hammond.)

Times may have changed, but people in Lower Hammond still bristle when people call it “the wrong side of the tracks.”



 Posted by at 5:09 pm
Aug 082012

Port Hammond was registered as a townsite in 1883. Sometime between then and now, the “Port” prefix was lost and it is now simply referred to as “Hammond”.

The area was originally called Port Hammond because the town was at one time “the westward terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway during its construction, prior to its extension westward to Burrard Inlet. The brothers Hammond had struck a deal with the CPR, trading land for track right-of-way, station and yards on the condition that their townsite be the location of the first station in Maple Ridge.It was also known as “Hammond’s Landing”, as it served as the steamship and mail port for all CPR shipping from New Westminster and Victoria and the brothers had ambitions of it becoming a major deep-water port.

Unfortunately, the brothers’ ambitions were not realized – in addition to the terminus for the CPR moving to Vancouver, the port moved to New Westminster. Over the years, the “Port” prefix was dropped and the area is now simply known as “Hammond”.

— Update —

The post office was always Port Hammond from the day it opened until the day it closed.

– Val Patenaude, via Facebook

— Update —

“For all you history buffs, the ‘port’ in Port Hammond was the landing at river’s edge of Hazelwood Street – on the ‘wrong’ side of the tracks.”

– Sandy Macdougall, via Facebook



 Posted by at 12:43 pm
Jul 222012

Hartnell House in its former glory

I’ve created a new section on the website that contains pictures and descriptions of historical Hammond buildings. Each building has its own page, and anyone can post a comment with a photo and / or additional information.

This collects up and archives all the recent conversations about historical buildings we’ve been having on our Facebook group.

Please feel free to contact me and tell me about other Hammond buildings that should be included.

 Posted by at 6:25 pm
Jul 182012

William HammondVal Patenaude, Director of the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives, received a call recently from a cemetery in Victoria that had located William Hammond‘s headstone. It seems that it had fallen over and been covered with brush for many years. It was in good condition, though, so they cleared his plot and resurrected the stone.

This was just after the Hammond Neighbourhood Party on July 7. The timing is uncanny.

 Posted by at 8:05 pm
Jul 102012

At the Hammond Neighbourhood Party, we put up a bunch of posters and asked people to write down their ideas for the neighbourhood. I’ve created a page for each individual board.

 Posted by at 7:41 pm