Assistant Curators Jessie McLean and Pierce Smith worked together to create the Museum of Surrey’s latest Selections from Collections exhibit —a project that “pays homage to a dear colleague and beloved mentor for both.” (Museum of Surrey)

Assistant Curators Jessie McLean and Pierce Smith worked together to create the Museum of Surrey’s latest Selections from Collections exhibit —a project that “pays homage to a dear colleague and beloved mentor for both.” (Museum of Surrey)

Museum of Surrey honours legacies of influential Surrey residents

Exhibit honours the work of influential community members, including the late Sue Sanderson

Not too long ago, before the advent of social media, to be an “influencer” had a very different meaning.

As a recent Museum of Surrey press release notes, while these influencers “may not have had legions of followers or retweets, their legacy resonates with all ages” all the same.

It’s the basis of the museum’s “Legacies of Surrey People” exhibit, on now until the end of July, which pays tribute to a group of influential Surrey residents. It’s part of a monthly Selections from Collections exhibit series that features unique objects in the City of Surrey’s heritage collection.

Museum of Surrey’s latest Selections from Collections exhibit is dedicated to the late Sue Sanderson.
Museum of Surrey’s latest Selections from Collections exhibit is dedicated to the late Sue Sanderson.

Museum of Surrey

The exhibit is dedicated in memory of a person who made a great impact on the lives around her. Sue Sanderson (nee Leslie Suzanne Wilson) was a lifelong educator and community builder. She passed away unexpectedly on June 15.

Over her lifetime, she worked as a teacher and a tutor. In recent years she gave her time to community services and volunteer coordination at the Surrey Archives in Cloverdale.

“Sue was hilarious, kind, political, and a vocal advocate for learning assistance in B.C. schools,” said Jessie McLean, assistant curator.

McLean worked alongside fellow assistant curator Pierce Smith to “bring this passion project into fruition – one that pays homage to a dear colleague and beloved mentor for both,” according to a press release.

“Sue was a friend to everyone she met,” said Smith. “She will be remembered fondly not only by her family, but by the staff she worked with and over 200 heritage volunteers with the City of Surrey. Sue personally helped many of these volunteers find the perfect role with the City.”

A panel on change-makers and action-takers is also on display, featuring, for instance, the life and work of Surrey’s first female MLA Mary Ellen Smith. It details the actions of Annie Richardson, who, in 1879, saved her husband from drowning in the Fraser River. (He would go on to join Surrey city council and advocate for the K de K ferry, which carried passengers between Surrey and New Westminster over the Fraser.) Educator Gertrude Rutherford, who taught in Surrey schools for 36 years, is also among those honoured. During her time as a teacher, she collected more than 400 objects that represent the history of education.

A copy of Sanderson’s 2014 letter to the editor of the Surrey Now, advocating for specialist funding within the Surrey school district, is presented alongside a display of Rutherford’s teaching supplies.

“Today, Surrey is a diverse community whose people take action,” the exhibit panel reads. “This display is a celebration of those who make an impact on the lives of us all.”

The exhibit is one of several showcases on at the Museum of Surrey, located at 17710 56A Ave. in Cloverdale. The Museum of Surrey is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit surrey.ca.



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