History of Sullivan Elementary

Sullivan’s school history can be traced back to over a century. Johnston Road School, located on the corner of 152nd Street and 68th Avenue, opened with nine students in 1906. It was constructed by the Johnston and Sullivan families who resided in the area. In 1912, to meet the demands as the neighbourhood population grew, a new two-room school was built, housing as many as 81 students.

On January 13th, 1950, a chimney fire started during the middle of a blizzard. The pupils were all safely evacuated. However, the fire went through the roof, gutting the building, which led to the construction of the third and current school. In 1951 the new Johnston Road school was opened at 152nd Street and 60th Avenue, south of the original school site. Later the school would be renamed to recognize the prominent influence of the Sullivan family.

In 1898 Henry Sullivan traveled from Ontario and settled in the Sullivan area, then known as the Johnston Settlement. In 1905, together with pioneer Tom Hyland, Henry began the Sullivan and Hiland Logging Limited, one of the largest mills on the west coast. Henry recruited his brother Tom as a partner in 1903 to help with the logging and mill operations.

The third brother, Jeremiah, arrived in 1909. With his expertise the brothers built the Surrey Shingle Manufacturing Company. Together they operated the mill, logging operations, a blacksmith shop, bunk houses for the workers, and barns for their 100 horses. The Sullivan brothers also built the road bed for the BC Electric Railway.The final tracks were laid down in 1910. The BC Electric inner-urban rail provided transportation for people, groceries, and lumber from the Sullivan Station to other stops between Vancouver and Chilliwack.

The Sullivan Store, which opened in 1910, was the gathering place for everything from livestock feed and grain to pharmaceuticals to shoes. Adjacent to the Sullivan Hotel, the store housed the first post office and meeting hall which was also used for lively community dances. The Sullivan family added a pool hall and an ice cream parlour as business grew. The store was the site of the first local telephone extension, Cloverdale #1. Running the Sullivan Store and farming close to 3000 acres were vital aspects of the family’s operations. Many of the family members also took turns volunteering at the Sullivan Firehall which was built in 1946.

Tom Sullivan served as the Reeve of Surrey for 11 terms. Under Tom’s leadership, the Surrey Commission built dams to control tidal waters on the Serpentine and Nicomekl Rivers which were successfully reclaimed 130,000 acres of prime farmland.

As the local population grew and the rail bed was completed, the area came to be known as Sullivan Station. The local school board recognized the family’s contributions and in 1975 dedicated Sullivan Elementary to honour their legacy.

Currently 289 students attend Sullivan Elementary.

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