Dressed up in fancy hats and dress wear standing alongside a table of snacks and tea, many longtime Terrace residents gathered in celebration of George Little.
On March 10, considered Founder’s Day in Terrace, more than two dozen people came together at George Little House to remember their settler roots and family history.
“We’ve been doing this since 2005 when the house was first moved here, we celebrated a grand opening and said we would remember our history every year from there on,” says George Little House manager Debbie Letawski.
“It is groups like the Terrace Historical Society who have volunteers that work endless hours to preserve Terrace’s history and the pioneers that were a part of it.”
Terrace was officially founded in 1914 by George Little, who came across this valley on the Skeena River. He decided to build a permanent home for his family and sought economic opportunities to encourage more people to settle here.
Letawski says while they acknowledge First Nations’ history as well, this day is particularly important to a lot of the descendants of those families who first moved here.
Many grew up listening to their grandparents’ stories of how the town first looked when it was being built and have witnessed it change throughout the decades.
“It’s those people we want to make sure that we honour and not forget what they’ve done for our community,” she says. “The past is always really important and we don’t want to lose our sense of community, especially with all these big industries that are coming in.”
Linda Bee, George Little’s granddaughter, says one thing he wanted the family to remember was the natural beauty of Terrace.
She adds Little planted many trees like red maples throughout the city, bringing seeds from his home province of Ontario, and hopes they continue to grow in good health for future generations to enjoy.
“I certainly hope that not many more trees have to be terminated and cut down because they’re very special to me,” says Bee.
She personally thinks George Little would be surprised by how big Terrace has grown – the family never envisioned the city to expand so quickly to this size. Bee remembers as a child running through forests and using wooden sidewalks to walk through town. Those sidewalks no longer exist and have buildings or pavement in their place.
She sometimes imagines he would be saddened with what has been taken away.
“I think he would be disappointed because we don’t have much of the original industry anymore, plus all the highs and lows going on right now,” says Bee. “He had a great vision for Terrace but perhaps something better is just around the corner.”
Bee adds she would like to see more done in the city to remember George Little and the pioneers in respect to their family history, such as better maintenance of his statue and going back to the original main park’s name, “George Little Memorial Park”.
Also at the event was 96-years-old Marie Piffer, who has lived in Terrace her entire life. She was one of the first creators of the Historical Society as she saw an importance in documenting the growth of the area and its people.
She says it’s important to do everything possible to preserve what’s left of its history before it’s forgotten.
“Terrace has grown tremendously from about 500 people to what it is today,” Piffer says. “I like being able to see these changes and we also have to remember, that change always comes with all its bits and bumps.”