Online Heritage Inventory

South Arm Slough District Heritage Area

General Information
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Type of Resource: Heritage Area
Common Name: South Arm Slough District Heritage Area
Neighbourhood (Planning Area Name): Gilmore
Construction Date: Prehistoric formation of the sloughs to 1930
Current Owner:
Designated: No

Statement of Significance
Description of Site
The Slough District comprises a large rural area along the South Arm of the Fraser River, encompassing four of Richmond’s major sloughs: Woodward’s Slough, Horseshoe Slough, Green Slough and McDonald Slough. This large area has a rural and natural character, and consists of agricultural fields, narrow rural roads, new residential development and the natural areas created by the sloughs. Three historic settler’s homes and two barns are located here.

Statement of Values
The heritage value of the South Arm Slough District lies in its historical association to the people who populated this part of Richmond, including First Nations and early European settlers. There is evidence that both Coast Salish and the settlers used the sloughs as a means of transportation by canoe or boat. Archaeological resources are likely located along the sloughs, while residences, agricultural fields, evidence of dyking and drainage, tree plantings, roadways and other physical landscape features indicate later uses by Europeans.
The Slough District is significant as a cultural landscape in which humans interacted with and responded to the natural environment of the sloughs. A pattern of land use emerged consisting of large farm lots with homes built along the edges of the sloughs to accommodate the boats which were used for travel. Livestock feed and vegetable crops grew well on the rich soil, and the sloughs became an integral part of the of the drainage system for agricultural land.
Scientific value resides in the rich natural habitat and the use of the these saltwater tidal sloughs as drainage channels as part of the island-wide system of dyking and drainage. Emerging as natural drainage channels in the sedimentary material that makes up Lulu and Sea Islands, the sloughs are significant for their age, having been here since the formation of the Fraser Delta, and for their uniqueness and rarity, as many of them have been lost to development.
The quality and character of the landscape in this area is also significant. There are very high scientific, scenic, and habitat values inherent in the Slough District, affording the opportunity to see rare natural landscape features and processes.

Character Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage character of the site include:
· The overall landscape pattern of the slough area, as illustrated by the trees which line the banks, the layering of river, field, and natural vegetation, small-scale human elements in the landscape, such as railway and pedestrian bridges, planted tree patterns, fence lines, small structures on stilts, murky tunnels of native trees and shrubs, the sound of the water and the damp smells
· Views across the flat landscape to the slough channels which are marked by distinctive tree patterns
· Native tree species such as alders and cottonwoods with a mix of native shrubs such as snowberry, salmonberry, elderberry, blackberry, dogwood, willow and grasses, and rare stands of conifers
· Archaeological sites that have been documented along the sloughs
· Floodboxes and pumpstations at slough outlets which indicate the us of the sloughs in Richmond’s drainage system
· Homes of pioneers which still exist in this area and speak to the early settlement of this part of Richmond, including the Draney House, the Eldstrom House, Goldie Harris’ house, and the Thomas Kidd property.

The Slough District comprises a large rural area along the South Arm of the Fraser River, encompassing four of Richmond’s major sloughs: Woodward’s Slough, Horseshoe Slough, Green Slough and McDonald Slough. This large area has a rural and natural character, and consists of agricultural fields, narrow rural roads, new residential development and the natural areas created by the sloughs. Three historic settler’s homes and two barns are located here.

Architectural Significance
Design Features
Built Form and Structures:
Significant buildings:
Significant buildings in the Slough District include:
Draney House - 12011 No. 4 Road, construction date 1888
Eldstrom House - 9711 Finn Road, construction date c. 1912
Gilmore Potato Pit - 10631 Dyke Road, construction date 1930
Goldie Harris House - 11620 No. 4 Road, construction date 1912
Tilson Barn - 10631 Dyke Road, construction date 1882
These structures are significant for their design and construction, and because of their association with well-known people and the agricultural history of the Slough District. The Tilson barn is the oldest extant barn in Richmond, and is associated with Leslie Gilmore, also the owner of the Potato Pit, a converted calf barn. The symbolic importance of the Draney House is directly related to its early association with the key Richmond pioneers, the Draney family and Thomas Kidd. Lust Eldstrom was a Finnish settler who had an association with the Finn Slough settlement. Goldwin Harris settled in the South Arm district in 1894, eventually marrying the eldest daughter of Thomas Kidd.
Overall built form:
Buildings are not the most significant feature in the Slough District; the sloughs, roads, and the landscape are much more prominent. The majority of the buildings are located along the curve of No. 4 Road and along Finn Road in a similar pattern as that seen historically. Bridges and railway trestles have been constructed over the sloughs, and there is a railway wye located at the foot of Shell Road. As well, there are smaller outbuildings related to farming, some of which are built on stilts at the edges of the sloughs.
Vernacular architecture can be seen in the Finn Slough development. With the exception of the encroaching industrial area between Shell Road and No. 5 Road, the overall built form is subtle and similar in character to historic patterns.
Aesthetic qualities:
The aesthetic qualities demonstrated by the buildings have mainly to do with their siting and the way in which they seem to blend into the slough setting. There are one or two exceptions to this, however, as several very large homes on cleared lots interrupt the massing and scale of the other buildings in the landscape.

Landscape Significance
Design Attributes
The Landscape and Physical Features:
Cultural traditions:
Although there is evidence of First Nations use of this area, associated cultural traditions are not in evidence although they are documented as archaeological sites.
Circulation and open space:
Early circulation and transportation corridors were the sloughs which affected settlement patterns in the area - most of the houses were built along the slough channel edges. The Canadian National Railway runs north/south along the section line that is now Shell Road, and along the riverfront resulting in level crossings on the major roadways. These corridors are dominant patterns in the landscape created by historic transportation development.
The construction of roadways was an important issue to the Slough District farmers. No. 2 Road was the first to be built in 1883. Roads were constructed above the surrounding fields to avoid flooding. The narrow width of the roadways with ditches set back in the right-of-way also adds significantly to the character of the Slough District.
In the Slough District, a diverse wealth of natural and cultivated vegetation is a significant character-defining element. Natural vegetation associated with the sloughs and the river edge includes forests of black cottonwood, broadleaf maple and red alder, with an understorey of shrubs such as salmonberry, red-osier dogwood and elderberry, and wetland species such as sedge and cattail. This vegetation creates a distinct pattern visible from a distance as it follows the slough channels. Disturbed vegetation also occurs along corridors such as railway tracks and roadways. Vegetation demarcates section lines and edges of properties through hedgerows between fields and windbreaks of poplars or cottonwoods. The agricultural lands create another layer of vegetation of a more open character, such as grass or grain fields, vegetable patches, and fallow sites. Once abundant coniferous floodplain communities of Sitka spruce and western red cedar are now confined to a few sites.
Many of the trees in this area are on the heritage tree inventory, including those planted along roadways; No. 4 Road in particular has a very specific character created in part by the strong deciduous tree planting associated with residential development. There are also many identified landscape and fruit trees associated with residences. The giant redwood tree located near the Draney house is said to have been planted by Thomas Kidd soon after his arrival on Lulu Island in 1874.
Views, vistas, perceptual qualities:
Views into and through the site are layered in foreground, middleground and background over a flat topography of fields punctuated with planted and natural vegetation. The roads frame vistas that curve through significant tree planting out of sight. There are also significant views to the river. Because of the flat topography, features such as the railway tracks become important elements in the viewscape. Although the vegetation has changed and matured, because the land uses have remained relatively unchanged, these views would be similar to those experienced by the settlers. Also significant are the sounds and smells associated with the sloughs.
Water bodies or water features:
The most significant water features in the Slough District are the tidal sloughs which were used as early transportation routes and as drainage channels as part of the overall system of dyking and drainage on Lulu Island. Their network connects into the South Arm, which is the other significant water body in the Slough District. The sloughs created rich floodplain lands which as well as being important for agriculture, are significant natural areas, supporting bird, fish and mammal habitat and a diversity of vegetation.
Small-scale elements:
Many of the small-scale elements in the Slough District are naturally associated with dyking and drainage, and getting around or over the sloughs. Flood boxes and pumping stations are located at the outlets of the sloughs at the river. Road and pedestrian bridges constructed of wood, steel or concrete span the sloughs in areas such as No. 4 and Finn roads and No. 5 Road. Railway trestles and pedestrian bridges also span the sloughs at intersections of the railway and pedestrian trails. There are also fence lines, both small-scale wooden fences at field edges and around domestic gardens, and larger chain-link fences at encroaching industrial sites.

The South Arm Slough District has a fairly high level of integrity.
The Slough District maintains integrity of location as this heritage area has been shaped by the proximity of natural features such as the sloughs and the river.
Circulation patterns, the location of buildings, and the organization of agricultural fields with shelterbelts and other associated vegetation are still evident as based on historic development in response to the land.
There is integrity of setting as both large scale landscape features and smaller features such as fence lines and ditches contribute to the character of the site
Integrity of materials here is compromised. Many modern materials have been introduced, both in the landscape and associated with changes to the built environment.
Integrity of workmanship is also compromised. Although land uses such as agriculture and dyking and drainage still occur, the associated practices and equipment has changed significantly from the historic period.
The sense of place of this area is such that one is truly taken back in time and is a very significant component of this heritage area, maintaining a strong integrity of feeling.
There are still direct associations with many of the properties to people who were significant in this area during the historic period.


Evaluated By
Denise Cook, BLA PBD

Friday, August 10, 2001

Ham, Leonard. Archaeological Heritage Resource Overview of Richmond, 1987. Heritage Advisory Commission sous-fonds, 1-3-13, Richmond Archives.
Kidd, Thomas. History of Lulu Island and Occasional Poems, Wrigley Printing Company Ltd., 1927. University of British Columbia Special Collections.
National Park Service. “Defining Boundaries for National Register Properties”, US Department of the Interior, 1999.
Richmond Heritage Inventory Phase I, 1984.
Ross, Leslie J. Richmond, Child of the Fraser, Richmond Centennial Society, Richmond, B.C., 1979.
South Arm Slough District Research File. Richmond Museum, 1991.
Historical Photographs:
Location and Type of Plans Found:
Geological Survey of Canada. Fraser River Investigation: Topographical Maps 1923, UBC Special Collections.
Map of Municipality of Richmond, 1909. Misc. Planning Department Maps, Richmond Archives.
Municipality Sheets of Richmond 1925. Misc. Planning Department Maps, MR SE 520, Richmond Archives.
Plan Showing Sloughs in Sec: 1, 2 ,3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, & 15. Block 3N. Range 6W, and Property Adjacent Thereto, 197-?. Misc. Planning Department Maps (Municipal Records), Item #1987 25 28, Richmond Archives.
Sloughs and Streams in Richmond c. 1985. Misc. Planning Department Maps, Item #1986 25 19, Location Maps 25.
Waterworks Atlas Map, 1936. Municipal Records, Item #1991 40 41, Location # Maps 20, Richmond Archives

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