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.

Grade Level Subject Area Delta/Surrey Connections Locating Primary Sources
Grade 3 Indigenous Peoples
Worldview, protocols, celebrations, ceremonies, dance, music, spiritual beliefs, art, values, kinship, traditional teachings, Indigenous technology, oral traditions
Tsawwassen, Semiahmoo, Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations
Local oral histories
Seasonal rounds of local first peoples
Contact a First Nation’s band office to arrange an interview with an elder or educator

Contact Surrey School District’s Aboriginal Helping Teachers for resources

Grade 4 Early Exploration and Settlement
Forts, Hudson Bay Company, Gold Rush, early explorers, settler/explorer relationships with First Nations, local community history
Surrey/Delta pioneers
Kennedy trail, first settler-built trail in the Lower Mainland
Surrey’s first school, Clover Valley School
Delta’s first school, Trenant School
James Kerr, Delta’s first doctor
James Sinclair, Surrey’s first Medical Health Officer
Delta’s Chinatown
Early transportation: river navigation, steam trains, BC Electric Railway, horse and buggy
Canning in Delta
Surrey Archives

Delta Archives

Visit the Surreyhistory.ca website for many transcribed interviews

Visit Historic Stewart Farm

Visit Deas Island and explore the three heritage buildings

BC Archives Genealogy search

Cloverdale Library’s Family History Center

View Delta’s Heritage Passports on the Corporation of Delta website

Grade 4/5 Natural Resources Surrey’s forestry and farming industries
Delta’s fishing, farming, cannery, and peat bog mining industries; Burns Bog
Visit Green Timbers Urban Forest and the Surrey Nature Center

Visit Burns Bog

Interview a local farmer

Grade 5 Immigration and Multiculturalism
Contributions of immigrants to local development, immigration patterns, cultural communities, family connections, citizenship stories
Student’s family/personal experiences of immigration
Immigration in a given time period and how this relates to Delta or Surrey’s history and growth
Local cultural communities: Delta’s Chinatown, Norwegian community in North Delta, Greeks on Deas Island, Sikh farm workers, Japanese communities
Interview a family member

Visit the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 website

Visit Historic Stewart Farm

BC Archives Genealogy search

Cloverdale Library’s Family History Center

Grade 5 Historical Wrongs
Indian Act, Chinese Head Tax, Komagata Maru incident, internments, residential schools
Impacts of internment on Delta’s Japanese community in Sunbury
Zennosuke Inouye, Japanese resident in Surrey, WW1 veteran who was interned during WW2
Residential schools and impacts on local First Nations
Delta’s Chinatown
Search newspapers from the time period being studied online on the BC Historical Newspapers – UBC Open Collections

Delta’s Chinatown teaching kit from the Delta Museum

Grade 5 Human Rights
Protest movements, racism, gender equity, religious freedom, freedom of speech, Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Baltej Singh Dhillon, Surrey resident and first RCMP officer allowed to wear a turban Surrey Archives

Delta Archives

Visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights website

Grade 5 Canadian Identity
Symbols of Canada, development and evolution of Canadian identity
Delta/Surrey’s coat of arms or flag Surrey Archives

Delta Archives

Grade 5 Government
Levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal), roles of government, political parties, electoral process
Thomas Shannon, Surrey’s first Warden
William Ladner, Delta’s first Reeve
John Oliver, Delta resident and British Columbia’s 19th premier
Elizabeth Johnson, Delta’s first female mayor
Diane Watts, Surrey’s first female mayor
Gulzar Singh Cheema, Surrey resident and first Indian-born person elected as an MLA in Canada
Municipal records at the Delta Archives

Surrey Archives

Surrey Council Minutes (1880-2017) on the City of Surrey website

Grade 6 Urbanization
Transit, land usage, pollution, population density
History of the BC Electric Railway
Skytrain in Surrey
Visit the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society

Interview someone from Translink

Grade 6 Resource Management
Fisheries, oil and gas, mining, deforestation
History and establishment of Green Timbers Urban Forest
Burns Bog and peat
Visit Green Timbers Urban Forest and the Surrey Nature Center

Visit Burns Bog

Grade 6 International Conflict and Global Issues
War, environmental issues, resource use/misuse, epidemic/pandemic response
Delta/Surrey residents who fought in WW1 or WW2
War memorials
Interview a veteran
Contact a local Royal Canadian Legion officeLibrary and Archives Canada Military Heritage databases
Grade 7 Indigenous Peoples
Ancient technologies, interaction and trade
Indigenous archaeological sites in Delta and Surrey (Glenrose Cannery, St. Mungo, Boundary Bay, Crescent Beach)
Local trade resources, ex: Eulachon oil
Contact a First Nation’s band office to arrange an interview with an elder or educator

Contact Surrey School District’s Aboriginal Helping Teachers for resources

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

2018

  • James Cook’s 290th birthday and 240 years since he visited Nootka Sound
  • 275th anniversary of Fort Victoria
  • Tecumseh’s 250th birthday
  • 210th anniversary of Simon Fraser’s descent of the Fraser River
  • 200th anniversary of the Treaty of 1818, which established the 49th parallel as the border between Canada and the United States
  • 160th anniversary of the Fraser River Gold Rush
  • 160th anniversary of New Westminster and 120th anniversary of the New Westminster fire
  • 150 years since the Ladner brothers settled in Delta
  • 150th anniversary of Laura Secord’s death
  • Yukon’s 120th anniversary
  • 110th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mint
  • UBC’s 110th anniversary
  • 110th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables
  • 100th anniversary of women getting the vote federally
  • 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War
  • 100th anniversary of the Vancouver General Strike, the first general strike in Canada
  • 100 years since John Oliver, a Delta farmer, became Premier of B.C.
  • 100th anniversary of the death of John McCrea, the Canadian poet who wrote “In Flanders Fields”
  • 90 years since the St. Roch was launched, the first ship to sail the Northwest Passage from west to east and to circumnavigate North America. Visit the St. Roch at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
  • 60th anniversary of the Second Narrows Bridge collapse
  • 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Avro Arrow
  • 50 years since Pierre Trudeau was elected as Prime Minister
  • 50th anniversary of Canadian Medicare
  • 30th anniversary of the Government of Canada’s apology for the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War
  • 30th anniversary of the XV Winter Olympic Games in Calgary
  • 20th anniversary of the Nisga’a Treaty
  • 10th anniversary of the federal government’s Statement of Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools and the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

2019

  • 150th anniversary of the Red River Rebellion
  • Delta’s 140th birthday
  • 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike
  • 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act
  • 20th anniversary of Nunavut

2020

  • 100th anniversary of the RCMP
  • 50th anniversary of the October Crisis

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? Library and Archives Canada’s #OnThisDay page is a good place to start.
  • 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.

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