Kennedy Trail

North Delta and Surrey, BC

Built: 1861

The surveyed route of the 1861 Kennedy Trail (magenta line) has been overlaid onto a 1905 Map. District Lots 15, 16, & 51A and P/R 289 have been highlighted in orange. The map also shows the locations of the beaver pond on Scott Road, McLellan Road, the Semiahmoo Wagon Road, the railway line, and Oliver Slough.

Status: Parts of the Trail Still Exist

Kennedy Trail - 1905
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James Kennedy built the Kennedy Trail in 1861 to provide a land route for early settlers between New Westminster and the natural pasture land at Mud Bay. He did this during the very beginnings of European settlement on the mainland of British Columbia. At the time, New Westminster was two years old, Surrey Centre's first settlers wouldn't arrive for another ten years, and the city of Vancouver wouldn't be established for another 25 years.

While the route of the later Semiahmoo Trail (1873) was partly documented through later land surveys, a complete detailed survey of the Kennedy Trail was done by the Royal Engineers in 1861. Unfortunately, the field book in which the survey was recorded does not include a map based on the survey. A number of early maps show the approximate route of Kennedy's Trail, and some partial maps of the route are clearly based on the 1861 survey. Only one map has been found which identifies it as "Kennedy's Trail" and it shows only an approximate sketch of the route. Recently, with the aid of computer software, the information from the Royal Engineers 1861 survey was processed and accurately mapped, revealing the route of the Kennedy Trail. This new information has in turn helped to identify remnants of the trail which can be found today.

Information about the Kennedy Trail was recorded in more than 40 letters written by Kennedy, Governor James Douglas, the Commissioner of Lands and Works, Colonel Moody, and other members of the Royal Engineers. [Source: Colonial Correspondence files, GR-1372, BC Archives, Victoria.] There were also a number of letters and news items about the Kennedy Trail published in New Westminster's The British Columbian and Victoria's The British Colonist newspapers.

After the mainland Colony of British Columbia was established in 1858, the Royal Engineers built a number of early roads and trails around New Westminster. The first trail built by a settler in the Lower Mainland was made by James Kennedy in the spring and summer of 1861. It was also the first trail between New Westminster and Mud Bay. The trail started on the south bank of the Fraser River, at Kennedy's 1860 land pre-emption opposite the north end of Annacis Island. It rose quickly up the side of a ravine to the high ground above the river where it followed the contours of the land across what later became North Delta and Surrey, through Panorama Ridge towards Mud Bay and Woodward's Hill.

Just past the first mile, there was an uncompleted branch trail heading towards Fort Langley. As the main trail approached Panorama Ridge, it branched again. One branch continued south to what later became Colebrook, on the flats at Mud Bay. The other route headed south east towards the yet to be named Woodward Hill ending at the meadowland next to the Serpentine River at the base of hill. In 1865 the Kennedy Trail became a major part of the route used to bring the first telegraph line to New Westminster from San Francisco. The north end of the trail was extended from Kennedy's land pre-emption to Brownsville where an underwater cable connected the telegraph line to New Westminster.