An anecdotal history of Surrey can be found on a Facebook page Wes Mussato launched at a time when he was reconnecting with old friends online.
It was the summer of 2011 and Mussato, who had moved to Ontario at the turn of the millennium, was remembering the good ol’ days with people he grew up with in the Whalley area.
“I had a few friends and we were just chatting one time, and I said yeah, ‘I remember when we used to do this, and used to do that,’ and it was supposed to be just a little chat thing,” Mussato recalled. “So I just started this Facebook page for that, and it just kind of grew and other people got into it, so now there’s, like, over 5,000 people on there. It kind of took off like that.”
The page is called “I grew up in Surrey, BC. So I remember…” – or “IGUISBCSIR,” as a not-so-catchy acronym.
It’s a “closed” group, which means anyone can find the group and see who runs it. However, only members can see who’s in it and what they post.
The page includes old photos, videos and anecdotes about life in Surrey back in the day.
“Post a thought, a memory, a few pictures, a little quip about your time in Surrey, B.C.,” group members are encouraged.
Recent posts include memories of Burns Bog (“before they built the bridge,” when “it was all about sand dunes, bark mulch piles and dirt bikes”) and a random request: “Does anyone have a pic of the big bird cage in Surrey place mall?”
Another post involves the Cameo Club that once rocked at the corner of King George Highway and 108th Avenue.
“(The club) was owned and operated by Jeannie and Jimmie Howe (who at one time were the road managers for the Platters),” group member Debbie Stewart posted on Nov. 16. “When I worked there Apple Jack, Heart and a number of other local bands that have since become famous started out playing there…what a great place it was!”
The “comments” thread that follows includes memories from musicians who played there, people who danced there and others who remember the building as a movie theatre.
”I remember it well, because we played there on several occasions,” wrote Colin Hartridge, a drummer in the band Sparkling Apple. “It was about two blocks from my house, and when I was a kid, it was a cinema.… When I went to Grosvenor Road Elementary school nearby, we were told that if we went to see a movie at the Cameo, not to rest our head on the seat back for fear of getting ringworm!”
Not surprisingly, not all members of the “IGUISBCSIR” Facebook group currently live in Surrey, including Mussato, who now designs websites from his home in Windsor.
“I think it’s amazing how it’s grown,” he said. “A lot of people think the same way, right? You know, remember when we used to do this and things were like that? Surrey used to be a lot different when I grew up – in the ’80s. You know, it was more rural.”
Mussato said he likes seeing the old photos people post, and old videos, too.
“Some of the stuff is from the ’30s and ’40s, which is before my time,” he noted. “There are pretty cool videos on there. I love those kinds of things and also hearing the stories of my era, which is the ’80s, about the Whalley Burnouts and stuff like that. And when people put polls up, I like to participate in those.”
There are plenty of group rules.
”We don’t want it to get political or have people posting nasty stuff about other people, things like that,” said Mussato, who polices the page along with some fellow admins and moderators.
“I’ve never met any of them,” Mussato noted. “Al Young, he’s one of them, and he asked me about, oh geez, around 2012 if he could help me administer the group and I said sure, and he had a friend named Lynn, and a couple of other people help out as well, as moderators and stuff like that.”
The Facebook page is as much a hub for Surrey history as it is a place where people connect, and reconnect.
“It’s neat to see people reconnect – old friends and people they used to hang around with,” Mussato said. “It happened to me, too, with a fellow I didn’t even know. He looked up to me when I was a teenager, I guess, and I had no clue, but he was scared of me because he thought I was a bully,” he said with a laugh. “But I was a big, gentle bear, not a bully, so it was kind of neat to connect with him in a private message, stuff like that.”
On Facebook, similar pages include “I Grew up in Bridgeview and Lived to Tell About it” and “Grew up in Guildford Surrey BC Area, where are they now?”