History

Marta boarded a ship from Rotterdam headed for Halifax with her one year old baby. As a widow, she made the painful decision to leave Yugoslavia after her husband had been killed in a railway construction accident. Determined to find a better life she set out on this great voyage to this little known destination. After arriving in Vancouver, she met Dragan Zaklan and the two married not long after. Her belief that country life was healthier than the city, took her to an empty and isolated Surrey where Dragan had earlier (1926) acquired land, sight unseen. Few knew of Surrey’s location and fewer cared to live in such isolated wilderness. After convincing Dragan to move from Vancouver’s streets, they began to clear the massive tree stumps. Using dynamite and determination, they blew the stumps and began a subsistence living on this ‘stump’ farm. Starting with a single milk cow, they grew vegetables, a large patch of strawberries (which contributed to the area’s eventual name, “Strawberry Hill)” and also raised chickens and geese. The Zaklan farm sometimes served as a weekend get-away for ‘depression era’ city friends. And although they were constantly ‘cash poor’, there was basic food on the table. Interestingly, Marta Zaklan, a true Surrey pioneer, and surrounded by so many friends, celebrated her one hundredth birthday on the farm.

Now in his 80’s, George Zaklan (Marta’s youngest son) still lives and works on the farm. He and the family work to keep this heritage alive – thus establishing a corner-stone continuity of Surrey’s history. The extended Zaklan family has a strong desire to continue the farm legacy that began with Dragan and Marta.