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Chilliwack Yesterday

During the Fraser River gold rush, many of the miners travelled through the Chilliwack area, following the Whatcom Trail. Taking up a pre-emption in 1859, Jonathon Reece is said to be the first in BC to acquire land by this means. He grazed catttle to be slaughtered for meat. By the mid 1860s a handful of farms were established around the Fraser River steamboat landings called Miller's Landing, Sumas Landing and Chilliwack River Landing. The principal product of the farms was hay.

Charles Evans took up a large track of land near Atchelitz Creek in 1864. The first church in the Chilliwack Valley was built at Atchelitz Creek in 1869, service were ministered by Reverend Crosby. 1873 brought about the incorporation of the Township of Chilliwack, the third oldest municipality in British Columbia and comprised Sumas, Atchelitz and Chilliwack River. Initially the settlement was concentrated along the Fraser River at Chilliwack Landing. Here the stern wheelers arrived and departed with goods and passengers.

Since the small community had little room for expansion along the river, the main commercial area of the town moved up the road to the junction of the New Westminster-Yale Wagon Road, Wellington Avenue and Young Road. The centre came to be called Five Corners. Rosedale and Popkum developed, in the 1870s, as villages along Old Yale Road. Popkum's growth can be attributed to the nearby lumber mill, which was the Chilliwack Valley's first. In 1881 a large subdivision called Centreville was developed near Five Corners.

With the development of the CPR on the northside of the Fraser River, Young Road in Centdreville was extended to a landing at the River to connect via ferry to the Harrison Mills station. Later this ferry dock was called Minto Landing after Captain Menton's stern wheeler, the Minto. The first Chilliwack Valley creamery and cheese factory was established by P. C. Wells, a pioneeer settler, in 1885. The cheese factory was the first in Western Canada.

The Village of Sardis grew up around the Wells farm. In 1887 the name Centreville was replaced by a more popular name, Chilliwack. 1891 saw the establishment of the Chilliwack Progress newspaper. The area was incorporated in 1908 as a separate municipality, the City of Chilliwack. 1908 also brought electricity and telephone services to the City. While the City and the Township co-existed for 72 years, finally in 1980 they merged to form the District of Chilliwack.

The city takes its name from the local first nations people and various geographic features. (Akrigg) Popkum is named after a nearby First Nations village. More information is available at the District of Chilliwack's History Page. Chilliwack - Community of Villages.

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