There is a parcel of land in South Delta that has been the subject of much public discussion and political debate locally, at the GVRD (now Metro Vancouver) and provincially. As they say, "time flies" and 40 years have slipped by without a solution.
This land remains in private hands and as contentious as it might be, the land has been removed from the ALR. Past and current editions of Delta council have inherited this land use matter.
In recent times, the current owner has made a serious effort to build consensus over its future use. The original owners suffered through three public hearings and other unpleasantries. The Spetifore family has been a large part of Delta's farm heritage and the following is a bit of their history.
Sam and Rose Spetifore settled on 65 acres of bush land in the 300-block of Boundary Bay Road in South Delta. They arrived in 1924 with eight children. The ninth child, George, arrived in 1927. Sam was employed as a section foreman with the CNR and had been working on the rail line through Richmond.
In 1921 he purchased this acreage planning his future retirement and brought his family from Alberta. Suffice to say the family were not farmers. Sam continued to work for the CNR and he and the older boys cleared the bush land, sold the wood and planted a vegetable crop.
The family consisted of four boys and five girls that were a big help on the "farm." Subsequently Sam lost his job with the CNR because of the 1929 depression and turned his full attention to the farm operation. In 1932 they started a poultry and egg business with Rose and the five girls in charge.
Sam and the boys continued to clear land and plant crops. These newcomers to Delta worked hard and any profit was used to buy additional land and equipment. By the early 1930s they owned approximately 150 acres.
The depression caused the price of poultry and eggs to drop dramatically and they closed that business. The boys continued to clear more land and sold wood for stoves and furnaces.
The first crop of early potatoes was planted in 1932 and netted $600. By 1934 they were planting about 50 acres in early potatoes but prices dropped, and with labour costs, they lost money.
Ever resourceful, they ventured into the dairy business in 1934 with one milk cow in trade for firewood from Dugald Morrison's father. The chicken barn was converted to a cow barn.
The planting continued with cannery peas, potatoes and vegetable production. The five girls attended the dairy herd, milking by hand up to 50 head twice daily until they could afford milking machines, while the boys worked the fields.
In 1946 the Spetifores built a large dairy barn and calving shed with lumber from their own property. The dairy herd at its peak totaled 300 head. They now owned in excess of 900 acres in Delta and a farm in Grand Forks that produced hay for the cattle.
The family gives Rose much of the credit for the success of the business. There was great distress when Rose died in 1953 and Sam passed away suddenly in 1956 while working in the field.
At their peak in the 1950s, the Spetifores owned a hay farm in Grand Forks, acreage on Pebble Hill, the Imperial farm on 56th Street, 100 acres at Highway 17 and 52nd Street, and 535 acres on Boundary Bay Road long under discussion.
Devastated by the loss of Rose and Sam, the descendants were also facing a crushing tax assessment from Revenue Canada on the estate. To be continued.
And a good night to you, Patricia.
© Copyright 2013