An enchanted fairy kingdom where towering trees scrape the sky and hundreds of colourful, tiny fairy houses hang from branches, perch on logs, and hide among the foliage of the forest floor. If you’ve never actually seen a fairy, well, you just haven’t been to Redwood Park enough times!
But how did one of Surrey’s most beloved natural spaces come to be? What was before the picnicking families, the hikers, the dog walkers, the playground packed with squealing children and yes, the enchanted clearing in the woods? Before the trees grew tall and the fairies moved in, there was… another kind of magic. The kind that takes life when a parent gives a child a priceless gift, the kind that will go on to become their legacy.
The parent was David Brown Sr., one of Surrey’s early pioneers. He was an active member of the growing community. He settled in the Hazelmere Valley in 1878 and later went on to become a provincial Justice of the Peace. The children were deaf twins, Peter and David Brown. The year was 1881. The occasion was their 21st birthday. The gift? Forty acres each. Not. Too. Shabby.
The area that would become Redwood Park had been heavily timbered the year David Sr. arrived in Surrey and he was committed to rebuilding it. The brothers, who like their father shared a love of trees, proceeded to replant the timbered land they’d been given. They started with Redwood seeds that they acquired in California and continued on to plant some thirty-two species of trees from all over Europe, Asia, and North America. They didn’t just plant a forest, though. The eccentric and solitary brothers constructed a two-story tree house that sat on stilts six metres high and lived there together until they died decades later. Today Redwood Park in Surrey is home to the largest stand of Redwood trees north of the 49th parallel. Peter and David Brown’s original tree house burned down more than once, but a replica stands in Redwood Park today that pays homage to the bewildering brothers that built a forest and made it their home.