Most iconic landmarks can be identified from a distance. They’re the thing of Lonely Planet books – formidable, breathtaking and always recognisable.
But occasionally, one will fly under the radar, its value unnoticed by undiscerning critics. It may never grace the dog eared pages of a backpacker’s travel guide, but that doesn’t make any difference to its appreciators.
One such understated landmark is Fry’s Corner, in Surrey. The land where Fraser Highway intersects with 176th Street is now home to Honeybee Centre, Surrey’s sweetest local business. In the 1920s, it was a barren crossroads in an area popular as a rest stop for travelers driving between Vancouver or New Westminster and the United States.
Fry’s Corner in 1940 and today.
While many looked and saw a lonely bit of land, Martin William Fry, an Englishman from California, saw an opportunity. In 1925, Fry opened a grocery store and gas station and the intersection came to be known as Fry’s Corner. It wasn’t without its challenges, though. The parking lot had to be built on heavy pilings and the house built on stilts, because the site was susceptible to flooding. But there was one upside…
During the cold Surrey winters the flooded plains froze over, transforming the soggy tundra into a winter wonderland. The community’s young people flocked to this improvised ice rink, and would continue the winter ritual for decades to come. Surrey residents from that generation still reminisce about the flushed-cheek, warm-hearted frosty days spent skating at Fry’s Corner.
Over time traffic circumstances changed. Fry sold the store, the station closed and the building was eventually demolished in 1968. but the name remains, and so do the memories.
Photo Courtesy of Opposite The City