Michael Gibbs doesn’t want Hawthorne Square’s name to be changed.
“I’m not in favour of renaming the square,” said Gibbs. “We’ll fight it. Every member of our group [the Surrey Historical Society] is opposed to changing the name.”
Gibbs, the commissioner for the Surrey Heritage Advisory Committee and past president of the Surrey Historical Society, said Hawthorne Square sits on the location of a road that used to be called Hawthorne Avenue, one that dates back to 1908.
“The name Hawthorne has historical significance and should be kept as a name.”
In December, a committee from the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association attended the BIA’s monthly board meeting to float the idea of changing the name of Hawthorne Square to Will Senger Square. Senger, a longtime rodeo volunteer, passed away in 2017.
“When Will passed away, we felt strongly that there needed to be something appropriate and permanent to honour him in Cloverdale,” Claypool told the Cloverdale Reporter. “He was an integral part of the rodeo.”
Senger, who started volunteering at the Cloverdale Rodeo in the ’50s, became the rodeo chairman in the middle ’70s. After Senger’s death, Claypool, Rocky Rockwell, Penny Smythe, and Jamie Rogers formed a committee to advocate for a memorial of some kind.
Claypool said renaming the square is at the top of his list, but his committee would support any type of revitalization of Hawthorne Square that incorporates rodeo elements, including a memorial of some kind for Senger, and attracts more visitors to the square.
Gibbs said it’s going to be tough to change the name.
“There’s a [city] policy that a name is not given to a piece of property, a road, etc., for a minimum of 25 years after the death of a person.”
Gibbs said the rodeo is important to Cloverdale both culturally and economically and he noted it has an exciting, colourful, and unique history.
“I think it would be great to honour (Will Senger) somewhere on the Fairgrounds. That’s where it should be.”
Gibbs also supports the revitalization of Hawthorne Square, but he doesn’t support a rodeo-style redevelopment of the public space. He did say, however, that he would support a plan that incorporated a rodeo mural of some kind or a plaque.
“I want the square greened-up. They could put in a landscaped mound for people to sit on, like at the museum. They could add pioneer storyboards,” he said.
“But the Surrey Historical Society is opposed to Hawthorne becoming a rodeo square because there’s no historical relationship to that piece of property and the rodeo.”
Longtime Cloverdale resident Roger Bose is also against changing the name of the square.
“I’d like to maintain the name Hawthorne Square as it has a long history there,” Bose said. “The name Hawthorne was the original name of Hawthorne Avenue and the square took the name many years ago.”