Topic Ideas

Some common topic categories are listed below, along with suggestions for ways to link projects to Delta/Surrey history, and suggestions for primary source materials.

Subject area Possible ways to focus on Delta or Surrey Primary Source Suggestions
Political parties
Policies and laws
Local Politicians and city councillors
William Ladner, Delta’s First Reeve
Thomas Shannon, Surrey’s first Warden
John Oliver, BC’s 19th Premier and Delta resident
Elizabeth (Beth) Johnson, Delta’s first female mayor
Lois Jackson, Delta’s first female councillor
Stephanie Cadieux, MLA for Surrey-Panorama 2009-2013, the first quadriplegic MLA in BC
Municipal Council records at the Delta Archives
Surrey Archives
Canada and the World
World Wars
Peacekeeping missions
Delta or Surrey residents who fought in overseas conflicts
Life in Delta or Surrey during the war years
War memorials
Photos and documents from the first and second world wars at the Delta Archives or Surrey Archives
Library and Archives Canada Military Heritage databases
Interview a veteran. Contact the Royal Canadian Legion or find a family member.
Symbols of Canada
National Anthem
Royal Figures (Queen, etc.)
Local symbols, such as flags or coats of arms
Local monuments and memorials, such as the Ladner War memorial
Delta Coat of Arms records at the Delta Archives
First Nations
Arts and stories
Tsawwassen, Semiahmoo and Kwantlen First Nations history
Coast Salish and the fishing industry in Delta
First Nations women in canneries
First Nations archaeological sites
Contact a First Nation to arrange an interview with an elder
James Kerr Wilson, Delta’s first resident doctor
Trenant school, Delta’s first school
Clover Valley, Surrey’s first school
Kennedy trail, first settler-built trail in the Lower Mainland
Visit the Delta Archives or Surrey Archives to find information about your topic.
Early Settlers
Hudson Bay Company
Daily Life
Pioneer Families
Relationships with First Nations
Delta pioneering families like the Ladners
Surrey pioneering families
Early Asian immigrant experience, especially Delta’s Chinatown
Early stores and businesses
Pioneer ways of life, including local examples
Thomas E. Ladner family fonds and other family records at the Delta Archives
Delta Optimist Newspaper Collection at the Delta Archives
Workers’ experiences on the canning line
The history of one of Delta’s canneries
Dykes and drainage
Crops cultivated now and in the past
Barns in Delta
Chung Chuck, potato farmer
Cannery records at the Delta Archives
Delta Agricultural Society fonds at the Delta Archives
Natural heritage
Natural disasters
Environmental features
Flooding in Delta
Riefel Bird Sanctuary, Burns Bog, Pacific Flyway, Green Timbers Urban Forest
Fraser, Campbell, Nicomekl and Serpentine rivers
Local wildlife
Visit the Riefel Bird Sanctuary, Burns Bog, or Green Timbers Urban Forest
Public Transport
Choose a type of boat or specific boat and explore its history
Boundary Bay Airport
Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal
Ladner Ferry
George Massey Tunnel
Alex Fraser, Patullo, or Port Mann Bridges
Great Northern Railway in Delta and Surrey
Interview someone from BC Ferries
Interview someone who remembers taking the ferry from Ladner to Steveston
School heritage Focus on your school history
The name of your school
Delta or Surrey’s first school or early schools
Search your school in the Delta Archives or Surrey Archives databases
BC Archives Time Machine entry on schools
Immigrant experiences and multiculturalism
Regional influences
Cultural communities
Family connections
Citizenship stories
Family/personal experiences
Choose a time period and look at immigration in that period and how this relates to Delta or Surrey
Ladner’s China Town
Delta’s Chinatown at the Delta Archives
Passages to Canada Digital Archive
Personal Memories
Family History
Name meanings
This is all about you! Family photos and keepsakes
Interviews with family members
BC Archives Genealogy Search
Library and Archives Canada Ancestors Search

Anniversaries or milestones can inspire creative Heritage Fair projects. Here are a few to get you started:


  • 375th Anniversary of the city of Montréal
  • 180 years since the Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions
  • 160 years since Ottawa is named the capital of the Province of Canada
  • 150th anniversary of Confederation
  • 130th anniversary of the Esplanade Mining Disaster in Nanaimo
  • 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup and 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League
  • 100th anniversary of the First World War Battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele
  • 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion
  • 100 years since John Oliver, a Delta farmer, became Premier of B.C.
  • 75th anniversary of Japanese internment in BC
  • 75th anniversary of the Second World War Dieppe Raid
  • 70th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act
  • 60th anniversary of the incorporation of White Rock
  • 55th anniversary of the Trans Canada highway
  • 50th anniversary of the Canada Games
  • 50th anniversary of Expo ’67
  • 30th anniversary of the loonie
  • 25 years since Dr. Roberta Bondar became the first Canadian woman in space


  • 160th anniversary of the Fraser River Gold Rush
  • 150 years since the Ladner brothers settled in Delta
  • 100th anniversary of women getting the vote federally
  • 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Avro Arrow


  • Delta’s 140th birthday
  • 20th anniversary of Nunavut

Historical figures also make great project topics. Here are some common figures:

  • Marguerite Bourgeoys
  • James Bruce (Lord Elgin)
  • John Cabot
  • Emily Carr
  • Jacques Cartier
  • Samuel de Champlain
  • Captain James Cook
  • Marie-Marguerite d’Youville
  • Sir James Douglas
  • Thomas Douglas (Lord Selkirk)
  • Gabriel Dumont
  • Lord Durham
  • Leif Eriksson
  • Terry Fox
  • Simon Fraser
  • George A.  French
  • Conte de Frontenac
  • Robert Gourlay
  • Marie Guyart
  • Sir Francis Bond Head
  • Joseph Howe
  • Henry Kelsey
  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier
  • François de Laval
  • Sir John A. Macdonald
  • Alexander Mackenzie
  • William Lyon Mackenzie
  • Jeanne Mance
  • Viscount Monck
  • General Montcalm
  • James Murray
  • James Naismith
  • Louis-Joseph Papineau
  • Marie de la Peltrie
  • Louis Riel
  • Thomas Scott
  • Laura Secord
  • Emily Stowe
  • Jean Talon
  • Tecumseh
  • Thayendanegea
  • David Thompson
  • Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley
  • Charles Tupper
  • Sir William Cornelius Van Horne
  • George Vancouver
  • General Wolfe
  • Philomen Wright

Another way to get students engaged in a topic is to have them pick something that has personal meaning to them. Some suggestions for finding a topic with personal significance:

  • Research your family history. How did your ancestors come to Canada? Is your family part of a First Nations group? Does your family’s history connect to a significant event in Canadian history (e.g. ancestors who fought in the Canadian army or connections to events like the Komagata Maru or the construction of the railroads)
  • Look at your birthday. Did any interesting historical events happen on your birthday? Do you share a birthday with a significant figure in Canadian history? Search online for “on this day” lists of historical events.
  • Learn about a place that’s important to you. Pick a place that has meaning to you and learn about it’s history. Does your school have an interesting story? What about your neighbourhood or city? Is there a historic site that you enjoy visiting that you could learn more about?
  • Choose a topic related to your hobbies or personal interests. Do you play sports? Are you a musician or an artist? Learn about the history of your hobby or choose a Canadian athlete, musician, actor/actress or artists who inspires you and learn about his or her life.

Still need ideas?

Visit our project gallery to see what students have done in the past.

This article on the BC Heritage Fair Alumni Blog has some great suggestion on how to pick a Heritage Fair topic.

The BC Heritage Fair Society has some good resources to help you choose your topic.