Surrey: Where Canucks culture, community and car flags collide

Scott Road and 72nd in Surrey might be the greatest single gathering place for Canucks fans outside of Rogers Arena. If you like sweet rides, sweets and celebration, this is the place to be after playoff wins.

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Scene: The Sikh temple just off Scott Road, across from the Scottsdale Mall. It’s mere hours before the Stanley Cup Final, Game 7, 2011 — Vancouver Canucks versus Boston Bruins.

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“All you saw in the temple was Canucks jerseys. Just packed. All praying for a win. ‘Hey God, if you’re listening, please give us a win,’ ” said local Harman Nagra, laughing at the memory.

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“There were cars lined up. You couldn’t even find a parking spot.”

It was a quintessentially Surrey moment, an intersection of sports and community — and literally at the intersection of where the Canucks and the team’s soul intersect.

Other communities may lay claim to being the Canucks’ biggest supporters, but the four corners of the Scott Road and 72nd Avenue junction in Surrey are in a different weight class. Sorry, South Fraser Way. This is the post-win gathering spot.

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In the early aughts, fans would cruise the busy street in cars after big post-season wins. Later on, people began congregating outside of the now-departed Earl’s on the corner, especially after a Canucks’ series win. But now, for the playoff-starved fan base, it’s a party after every playoff win.

Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, when the team made its bubble push, the locals disregarded the public protocols to carouse.

The 2011 Cup run mashed the turbo button on its growth, with its increased visibility on social media amplified by sportscaster Randip Janda’s “#ScottRoadCellies” hashtag.

Drums, singing, flags, crowds, flashing police lights, barricades, cars looping the block, horns honking … it’s a spectacle. Those that live there don’t think it’s overhyped; it’s just an extension of them.

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“Absolutely, it’s worth the attention,” said the 28-year-old Nagra, pointing out that neighbourhood has been a settling place for thousands of sport-crazy South Asian immigrants.

“A lot of new people that came are at Scott Road, if you talk to some of the parents and grandparents, they can’t speak a lick of English, but you just give them a little head nod and they know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s one of those places where everyone is welcome. It’s worth the hype you go there. You’re gonna see people hanging out of their sunroof, playing a drum, going crazy. People just screaming, people giving out food, giving out sweets.

“And the thing about getting sweets in my community it only happens on like auspicious days — very special moments. A child was born, a wedding happens. Then it’s like, ‘The Canucks won a series. This is an auspicious day. Let’s go give sweets.’ It’s definitely worth going over there. I wouldn’t doubt it one bit.”

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Canucks moped
Some use cars, others opt for more nimble vehicles for their celebratory Scott Road cruising. Photo by Les Bazso /PNG

Ricky Sangha, who grew up in the neighbourhood, said it also had universal appeal beyond the hockey playoffs.

“Obviously not everybody’s a hockey fan. Some people come out because they just want to be part of it and go see the spectacle, and want to join in for a good time,” he said. “You’re obviously attracting different audiences with this as well.”

The unbridled joy that comes in moments of fandom sometimes deserves more than the staid high-fives the jersey-and-sport-coat people that populate certain downtown areas give. For Nagra, it was Kevin Bieksa’s stanchion goal that sent Vancouver to the Cup. Sangha stayed up late in the 2011 season too, lionizing the night of Alex Burrows’ Dragon Slayer goal against the Blackhawks.

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Both hit the corner to celebrate after those wins. They’ll be there tonight if the Canucks take out the Nashville Predators in Game 6.

“It was a double overtime game, so it was a little bit later on but it felt like it was like six o’clock in the afternoon,” Nagra said of Bieksa’s series-winning goal against the Sharks.

“People were playing the drums, people were singing customized songs — like writing lyrics on the spot and just stopping and singing turn by turn — everybody was in a party mood. It was just the best moment in my opinion for Scott Road.”

Added Sangha, 41: “There was just so much nervousness in the city because they blown the three-nothing lead and the losses to Chicago the prior two years, so just to win that game, it just released a whole bunch of energy. You couldn’t even park anywhere; you couldn’t get your car through. People were parking two blocks or three blocks away to walk there and just the amount of people there … there was just way too many people.”

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This is an area where weddings happen in Canuck-embroidered dresses and clothing, and the bride and groom come in waving white towels. It’s seeped into its DNA. Where we once had Troy from Richmond, we now have Arshdeep from Surrey.

“This is a community that’s crazy for the Canucks. They love them,” said Nagra. “Scott Road, if the Canucks ever like … reached that level — like I don’t want to jinx it, but if they hoist the … thing — I’m telling you, it might be a weeklong celebration. They might just have to do a parade through Scott Road.”

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