A large, 10 ft x 10 ft easel was built and erected on the BCHydro land opposite the Mennonite Central Committee’s new building on Gladys Avenue, right beside the land occupied by the homeless protesters at the TeePee, in anticipation of Thursday’s forced evacuation, which details the history of the land on which today’s homeless have found shelter.
Quoting from the MSA Museum Society’s ‘Matsqui Sumas Abbotsford Pioneer Stories 1870 – 1950,’ the presentation reveals that the area along the south/east side of the railway tracks along Gladys Avenue was known variously as ‘The Tramps,’ ‘Hobo Alley,’ or ‘Nick’s Place.’
Referencing pages 56 and 57 of the book, and quoting from Madeleine Webber (née Des Mazes), “During the summer when I was about nine my friends and I would visit “the tramps,” a treeless area along the railroad tracks where hobos camped.”
“We’d walk around and talk to the men, some of whom were quite pleasant. It didn’t strike me at the time that they were not bums but working men who were hitching a ride up to the Okanagan to pick fruit. Their families in Vancouver were starving.”
The Des Mazes family owned the Pioneer General Store on the southeast corner of Essendene and Gladys Avenue.
Cover photo by Bas Stevens.