The City of Abbotsford expands between Chilliwack and Langley, sandwiched by the Fraser River on the north and the U.S. border to the south. Abbotsford includes the areas of Abbotsford, Bradner, Clayburn, Clearbrook, Huntingdon, Matsqui, Mount Lehman and Sumas.
The Sumas First Nation utilized the Sumas Lake and prairie area as source of wild hay, fish, water fowl, trade and travel for thousands of years. The first European activity was exploration by the Hudson's Bay Company. The Whatcom Trail, connecting Whatcom at Bellingham Bay in the US to the Sumas Prairie area as a quick route to the Fraser River Gold Rush in the interior of British Columbia. In 1874, this was connected with the Telegraph Trail, which became the New Westminster - Yale Road.
The Vedder, Miller and Chadsey families were early settlers in the 1860s. The area was originally a bountiful land of thick forests, spacious pastures, a clear river, and an expansive lake in the Sumas Prairie, with view of the surrounding mountains. By 1867, one farm was producing tobacco, milk and butter. When the Canadian Pacific Railway built a line from Mission to Sumas, Washington in 1891, to intersect the only roadway through the valley, the Old Yale Road, the Village of Abbotsford was born. Laid out in 1889, Abbotsford takes its name from Harry Abbott, the general superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Districts of Sumas and Matsqui were incorporated in 1892. The railways brought in settlers and shipped out fresh produce. Later on, the Canadian National Railway passed through Matsqui, closer to the Fraser River, and the BC Electric Railway was built through Abbotsford by 1910. Abbotsford was finally incorporated until 1924
Each spring, Sumas Lake would flood from 10,000 acres to 30,000 acres from the Chilliwack and Vedder rivers flowing into it. In 1919, Sumas Lake was drained to expand farm land and for flood control in the Sumas Prairie. In 1923, the Barrowtown Pump Station drained the reclaimed land reclaimed in the Sumas Drainage Project. By 1924, dykes were built to prevent flooding and the Vedder Canal diverted the Vedder River and provided irrigation and drainage for Sumas Prairie. Early crops in the new land were timothy, clover, tobacco, and later hops. Many consider this project the earliest destruction of Fraser Valley wetlands and the lost of fish and waterfowl habitat.
Here are the other Fraser Valley communities:
[ Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge | Mission | Harrison - Aggazis
Langley-Aldergove | Abbotsford-Matsqui | Chilliwack | Hope ]