Skip to content

COLUMN: 100-year-old Surrey quilt reunites McAdam family

Cloverdale’s pioneer history woven into century-old heirloom

Cloverdale family historian Lynda Roberts was delighted when her cousin, Nancy, offered her a family Friendship Signature Quilt dated 1923.

Sprinkled with Surrey pioneering names like Cunningham, Roebuck, Bose, Hayton, Horten, Boothroyd and Oxenham it was clear that a multitude of early Surrey stories were woven into the fragile 100-year-old white cotton collectable Oxenham Quilt, now known as the McAdam Quilt.

What Lynda didn’t envision was how researching the 100-year old quilt’s provenance would draw together a wealth of family connections, reconnections, and recollections.

“It was quite a journey finding these people. It was like a big puzzle in itself.”

The story really began in 1910 when James and Emily (Bridges) Oxenham relocated from High River Alberta to Cloverdale where they bought the General Store at Cloverdale’s Five Corners (60th Avenue and 168th Street).

Lynda’s grandmother, Jessie Seretta, the eldest of eight children, often minded the Oxenham General Store. It was here that Jessie met Lyle McAdam, a deliveryman for Shelly Brothers Ltd. bakery and widower with five children.

The couple married in 1923 making 19-year-old Jessie an instant mom to five children aged 5 to 10 years.

Assisted by local historian Sue Bryant, Roberts established that the quilt, previously assumed to be a wedding quilt, was more likely a farewell gift crafted by Cloverdale, Surrey Centre, Clayton, Tynehead, Pork Kells, and Elgin friends for Jessie’s younger sister Isobel Oxenham.

Isobel was a popular young United Church organist and Sunday School teacher who was relocating to High River, Alberta.

When 17 year-old Isobel died of tuberculosis, the quilt is thought to have been given to her parents and then to her oldest sister, Jessie.

After Jessie died, one of her daughters inherited the quilt. It languished in storage from 1973 until 2020.

In 2021, the McAdam Quilt research reconnected Lynda with her cousin Diane Campbell, whom she hadn’t seen for 30 years. Lynda reports this reunion revealed many family stories and resulted in the growth of a great relationship with Diane and her two daughters.

Described as the family matriarch, Diane has since passed away. Her important influence in expanding the extended family circle lingers on.

The McAdam family has grown and branched out, but Cloverdale continues to play a pivotal part in the saga. Due to the McAdam Family Quilt, Lynda’s ongoing research has revealed and reconnected family from far and near.

In September, Lynda and Duncan Roberts will host the third McAdam Family Reunion bringing together three generations of McAdam descendants.

Influenced by a family heirloom Friendship Quilt, a wealth of tales will continue to be revealed and recorded—and a larger venue will be required for future reunions.

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is the former owner/managing editor of the Cloverdale Reporter. Contact her at

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter



Meet your muse in Surrey and Vancouver


Sherlock Holmes: The Swiss Connection

India surprises, delights

Awesome Alp transit

Home on the range at the Cloverdale Rodeo

Off the British-beaten track by coach

A toast to Robbie Burns country


Michael Jackson and the Rat Temple

Vimy Ridge on Canadian Museum of Flight radar

Volunteers at Cloverdale evacuation centre take the heat off of wildfire evacuees


Tea tempts a self-professed coffee fanatic


Explore Nevada by travelling into a pioneer’s past

Recalling the Berlin Wall

Japan’s courtesy, ofuro-style bathing, and snow monkeys


Historic Cloverdale United Church, signs of the times

Calgary’s Heritage Park offers a great deal of attractions

A Rocha’s Brooksdale Environmental Centre in Surrey offers rich experience

A trip to investigate some local magic

Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Festive reflections and recipes


Going through old paperwork and mementoes offers window into the past

A Lunar New Year lucky dip with historian Bob Sung

Caring and understanding at new hospice in Langley

Caring and understanding at Surrey Hospice Society

Escape to ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’

Emancipation Day and the Black Loyalists of Nova Scotia

‘Beyond King Tut’ is mysterious, magical, and impressive

The reluctant traveller’s Christmas gift

Coping in the kitchen


Local grandmothers group helps African grandmothers

Living History: The coronation of King Charles III

Surrey’s close connection with the RCMP Musical Ride