For those of us who live in Bolivar Heights, our community takes its name from the Bolivar family who arrived in Nova Scotia from Germany in 1751 and settled in Lunenberg, which had a growing German community.
Like many Canadians, Dennis Bolivar was lured from the east coast of Canada to the west coast by the promise of gold. He passed through Vancouver on his way to the Yukon and then returned to settle in Vancouver, where he began his family.
His son Haddon (1892-1976) was the Bolivar who developed our neighbourhood. Haddon was married to his wife Laura for 60 years and they had seven children together: Merle, Bernice, Geraldine, Audrey, Dean, Myrna, and Earl. Merle still lives in Surrey and Dean (Bud) lives in Kamloops. In 1913 Haddon and his father began a chick hatchery on Latimer Rd. They supplied chicks to the poultry farmers in the Fraser Valley. The original barn is still standing and in good condition. The Depression affected Haddon Bolivar’s business as it did so many others. After his business closed, Haddon moved to North Surrey in 1933 and restarted his chick hatchery as the Bolivar Hatcheries at Bolivar Road and King George Highway.
By this time, Haddon was also the President of the BC Hatchery Association. The barn and hatchery were across the street from their large 3-storey home. The hatchery was quite a presence in the 40s and 50s as people drove down the King George Highway. It had a neon sign with fighting roosters on either side. During this time, Haddon took an opportunity to buy property northeast of his previous location. This was the beginning of clearing the land for residential development in what was to be known as Bolivar Heights. Haddon believed in giving back to his community.
He was a driving force behind the Whalley Ball Park. He cleared the fields, provided the fences and bleachers at the park. Along with Gord Wilson and Tom Binnie was instrumental in beginning the Whalley Athletic Association. They formed the original men’s ball team, the Whalley Chiefs. Eventually they founded two teams and provided bursaries for post-secondary education. Haddon and Laura Bolivar had a dream of a hospital locally. When they moved out of their large home they used the home and founded the Florence Nightingale Hospital. The home was moved just east of its first location and in 1957 the 50-bed hospital was opened. This is not Cherington Manor on 111A Street. Laura Bolivar was active in the Catholic Women’s League and in the Surrey Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. Dean Bolivar was active with the Kinsmen throughout the 1950s and his sister ran Merle’s Beauty Salon on Bentley Rd. from 1946 to 1952. Dean’s son Rodney owned the Hockey Shop at 135th and 104th.
There is no question that people in Bolivar Heights live in a community that has a history of community commitment from its founders. Haddon Bolivar’s legacy in his words was to believe in community, in the value of education, and in fair play and honesty. He wanted his descendants to pass those values down to their children. These are values that Bolivar Heights is committed to today.
-Many thanks to Lee and Dean Bolivar and Lucy Matich for the time, commitment, and information they shared with me, and to Cherington Place Manor for the photograph.
-Many thanks to Penny Priddy for her efforts to compile this information.