Profiles of Historic Sites



Rock Wall, 2008.
Photographed by Sharon Syrette.

East Mission Rockeries


Location:
33700 block of Lougheed Highway east to Mary Street

Neighbourhood:
East Mission

Date of Original Construction:
1948

Resource Type:
Landscape

Current Owner/Occupant:
Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, BC Prov. Gov't.



Site Description:

The East Mission Rockeries are a beautiful landscape feature located along Lougheed Highway east of Stave Lake Road to Mary Street. The rock wall was built adjacent to many homes along the highway and features inset stone staircases. Many plants and blooming flowers grow from the rock wall throughout the spring and summer months, some of these include blooming rhododendrons, alpine plants, sedums, and poppies. Portions of the rock wall are on private property, however, the majority is owned and managed by the province.


Site History:

Catherine Marcellus is certain that the wall was created in 1948 by highway crews during the lengthening, widening and paving of the highway east of Mission. In a 2001 interview conducted by the Lifetime Learning Centre Society, Dr. Jim Marcellus and Cathie Marcellus, long time members of the Mission community, remembered that the original construction adjacent to their home was less than ideal. The wall was made up of “mostly junk” interspersing smallish round boulders that would roll down to the road once weeds began sprouting from between them. This may have concerned the doctor, as there were children who travelled back and forth along the highway to attend the nearby residential school. Sometime between 1948 and 1955, Dr. Marcellus enlisted the help of a patient, who happened to be the superintendent of highways, and extended their portion of the rockery with larger cut granitoid rocks. The Marcellus’ rockery wall renovation remains noticeable today, as do the beautiful garden arrangements planted by the couple.

Research at the Mission Community Archives turned up the following information regarding the highway construction in that area:

July 22, 1948 - Fraser Valley Record
"Lougheed Highway Surfacing Complete"
   ...east of the main business section, blacktop has been laid almost to the Pacific Co-op turn-off. Recently, workmen were extending the tarry surface material to the sidewalk and preparing culverts and catch basins. . .
   ... East of the Pacific Co-op Union, re-surfacing has been with held, since the Lougheed Highway will be re-routed from there to Hatzic. This work was in progress when interrupted by the flood late in May..."

September 2, 1948 - Fraser Valley Record
"Mission Hatzic Road Work Will Start
   ...A wide smooth highway all the way from Deroche to Vancouver...
   Honorable R.C. MacDonald, Dewdney MLA, states "the Department of Public Works has decided to procede with reconstruction of the link between Hatzic and Mission Village boundary, work to commence immediately, either by contract or day labour."
   Early this year, surveyors completed surveying the new right-of-way and fences were relocated north of the present road. Houses in line of the straighter highway route were moved and machinery was being moved in to start the project when the Fraser River freshet created an emergency and diverted all available manpower and machinery to combat the flood and repairing damaged roads and bridges in the district...

March 16, 1949 - Fraser Valley Record
   "new bee-line route of the Lougheed Highway from Mission to Hatzic is under construction and good progress is reported. Huge cement culverts are on hand. The new road will start near the Pacific Co-Operative Union along the north side of the present road and end at the corner of the Lougheed Highway and Draper Road."


Sources:
Oral history: Catherine Marcellus, Lifetime Learning Society and personal conversations
Mission Community Archives: Fraser Valley Record newspapers





Last Modified May 6, 2011