LETTERS: Namesake not in history books


Re: White Rock critic under fire in U.S., Oct. 14.


Re: White Rock critic under fire in U.S., Oct. 14.

Dean Berkeley is quoted in this article that his family history in the city dates back to the late 19th century and that Peace Arch Hospital’s Berkeley Pavilion was named in honour of his grandfather.

He may well be related to early pioneers, but there is no historical data referencing this name in either White Rock or Surrey archives. Noted historians in both areas cannot verify his claims.

As editor of the local newspaper at the time, I covered both the construction and opening of the Berkeley Private Hospital, touted as one of the first and finest private facilities in B.C.

When tenders for construction were called in 1961, Neil Cook, a Vancouver lawyer and major shareholder, said the hospital to be built on purchased land between Vine and Russell would be known as The Berkeley, as he had been involved with a similar facility in Berkeley, Calif., so the name seemed appropriate.

There was never any reference to a local connection.

Cook was joined in the project by several local investors, including Alex Reid, an accountant and son of pioneer Senator Tom Reid, and Surrey business leaders Frank McKinnnon and Alan Davidson. The facility opened amidst much fanfare in August 1962, drawing a host of guests including health minister Eric Martin.

Grandpa Berkeley did not appear to be among them.

In 1966, the board of White Rock District Hospital Society – soon to become Peace Arch – felt the Berkeley should become a public facility and part of the existing hospital. Board chairman Bob Hassell opened negotiations with the owners, which resulted in the hospital society purchasing the Berkeley for $550,000, most of which was recovered through provincial grants.

I was a board member at the time.

In September 1967, I served as MC at an event formally finalizing the purchase attended by the original owners, hospital society members and other guests. No one by the name of Berkeley was in attendance or they would certainly have been introduced.

Vin Coyne, White Rock



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