Built Heritage

Explore Abbotsford’s Built Heritage

Statements of Significance

Abbotsford Aerodrome Complex

including No.24 Elementary Flying Training School and No.5 Operational Training Unit Detachment, Huntington


Description of Place

The extant structures forming part of the original Abbotsford Aerodrome complex include:


The present triangular form runway, since extended, was established at the same time as the above buildings.

Hangar no. 1, formerly Hangar C, has a distinguishing curved roof supported by timber trusses with sliding doors at both ends, those at the south end being fixed in the open position to accommodate a recent extension. Both sets of doors slide into housings forming wings either side of the openings in a manner characteristic of hangars of the mid twentieth century. The present cement sheet cladding conceals presumably original painted timber siding, the steel framed windows illuminate the main hangar by means of clerestory lighting and windows in the sliding doors which are steel framed with sheet metal and timber panels. The doors are manually chain driven. Office space alongside the apron is refurbished and there are recent single storied offices also along the Tower Street elevation.

Hangar no. 2, formerly Hangar B is similar in form to Hangar no. 1 except that the roof has a shallow pitched gable form and is constructed of steel. There are similar steel framed windows to the hangar space and offices contained within the sliding door wings on either side of the hangar. The windows to the sliding doors are steel framed and similar in detail but of different form. The doors have the same sliding mechanism as Hangar no. 1 and the external cement sheet cladding is of a later date.

Hangar no. 3, formerly Hangar A, has a rectangular form with a steel framed roof with lean-to sections on both sides. There is an addition at one end, steel framed doors at both ends and steel framed windows similar to those used on the other hangars. The building is distinguished from the others by its flat roofed form and absence of wings accommodating the sliding doors characteristic of the other structures. The external cladding is also cement sheet.

All three hangars have a high level of integrity enhanced by the continuation of their originally intended use as aircraft hangars by the Conair Group Inc.

The former Vehicle Maintenance building was built as a rectangular structure on plan but has since had a wing added on the south side. The form and detail of the addition is identical with that of the main building, suggesting that it was obtained from a nearby structure forming part of the original complex. The original portion has a shingled gable roof with ridge ventilators whilst the addition has a similar but slightly lower roof, the walls of both sections being clad 

The former Fire Hall is a smaller gable roofed structure originally employing similar cladding and glazing details to the Vehicle Maintenance building. Whilst some original elements including double hung and high light windows complete with glazing bars are in situ, the façade windows have been replaced and the original timber siding is covered with vinyl cladding. The original ridge ventilators have been retained but there are later additions at the south-east end and at the rear. The survival of the original storm entry with double doors, the inner one being original, together with the bracketed porch characteristic of other buildings since demolished is of interest. It has survived with a medium — low level of integrity.

The former Foam Shed is a much smaller gable roofed shed with timber siding mitred at the corners, original high light windows with glazing bars, gable end vents and later doors. The interior has not been inspected. It has a medium level of integrity.

Comparative Analysis

In December 1939, soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand became signatories to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan leading to the establishment of training aerodromes throughout Canada, including facilities at Sea Island, Boundary Bay and Abbotsford in the Lower Mainland. A single hangar comparable with the no. 1 Hangar at Abbotsford survives at Boundary Bay but there are no extant ancillary timber buildings there erected during the War years. There are three early hangars at Sea Island, now South Terminal, including two hangars with characteristic curved roofs and wing walls erected in 1931 for the opening of the Vancouver Airport. They have highly innovative presumed laminated timber beam roof structures. Being of such an early date with such unusual structural systems, they do not compare closely with the Abbotsford hangars. The third hangar is a very large structure with a steel framed roof that is not curved and presumably dates from the World War II era. There are no ancillary timber buildings at Sea Island dating from the World War II era.

Heritage Value

The airport at Sea Island was opened in 1931 with commercial services commencing in 1937. Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan the Royal Canadian Air Force purchased the site for an airport in Abbotsford in 1940 with the construction of runways and buildings being undertaken in 1942-1943, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December, 1941. The No. 24 Elementary Flying Training School at Abbotsford was the last to open with commencing operations in September 1943. Sponsored by the Aero Club of British Columbia, it remained in operation until August 1944. When the No. 5 Operational Training Unit was established at Boundary Bay in April of that year, a detachment of that Unit was opened at Abbotsford in the following August. It remained there until October 1945, providing training in the use of Liberator aircraft for heavy bombing operations. It is understood that graduates from the program participated in the Pacific War, at least in Burma during the bombing of the Burma railway and the River Kwai bridge in particular.

The Abbotsford undertaking was substantial, leading to a resident population of over 1000 pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, radiomen, air gunners and others. Three hangars were constructed along with the runway in triangular formation and over 30 more buildings including a control tower, headquarters and operations building, barracks, mess halls, a hospital, dental clinic, drill hall and vehicle maintenance and storage buildings. The contractor for the runways was the King Paving Company of Oakville, Ontario whilst the contract for the balance of the works was let to the Marwell Construction Co. of Vancouver. The Vehicle Maintenance building, however, was built by the Northern Construction Company of Vancouver according to standard plans prepared by the Construction Engineering Directorate of the Department of National Defence for Air. R.R. Allard was the engineer in charge of the Air Force’s design branch and presumably had responsibility for the design of the three hangars at Abbotsford.

The RCAF station was closed after the War in 1946. In 1952 the site was re-opened as a Summer camp for air cadets and reserve squadron members. In 1958 ownership was transferred to the Department of Transport with Hangar No. 2 being converted into an administration and terminal building. In 1966 Skyway Air Services commenced using the airport as a gliding school, selling their forest fighting division to Conair Aviation Limited in 1969. The Conair Group currently uses Hangars no. 1, 2 and 3 for the maintenance and re­construction of their aircraft.

The former Abbotsford aerodrome complex consisting of Hangars no. 1, 2 and 3 and the ancillary buildings – being the former Vehicle Maintenance building, the former Fire Hall and the former Foam Shed – together with the triangular form runway are historically significant for their capacity to demonstrate the scale and range of facilities associated with the Elementary Flying Training Schools and Operational Training Units, which formed an important part of the Canadian War effort during the Pacific and European wars in 1939-45. This importance is enhanced by the survival of three types of standard Air Force hangars on the one site constituting a collection without equal in British Columbia and still in use for their intended purpose accommodating aircraft. It is further strengthened by the survival of the former Vehicle Maintenance building, the former Fire Hall, and the former Foam Shed which are representative of the standards of accommodation and construction routinely provided by the Department of National Defence at the time, and which are unique survivors in British Columbia offering a crucial insight into the vanishing architectural character of the aerodromes built during the Second World War years. The complex is historically significant also for its role in the history of Abbotsford, providing economic stimulus to the township prior to its expansion in the late Post War period.

Hangar no. 1 is aesthetically noteworthy and technically significant as a very large structure built entirely out of timber, comparing in this respect with the hangar at Boundary Bay and recalling the scarcity of steel for construction purposes during the War years. The classic curved roof and sliding door wings characteristics of the archetypal aeroplane hangar are important aesthetic qualities.

The utilitarian architectural character of the ancillary buildings seen particularly well in the former Vehicle Maintenance building is aesthetically important for its capacity to represent the vast majority of buildings since demolished at the site and elsewhere in British Columbia and yet which can still be interpreted by this solitary substantial intact survivor.

Character Defining Elements

Hangars no. 1, 2 and 3 including:

  • The curved trussed roof of Hangar no. 1.
  • The sliding doors with their chain driven mechanisms.
  • The presumed original painted timber sidings.
  • The steel framed windows.

The former Vehicle Maintenance building including:

  • The folding doors.
  • The windows.
  • The roof form with ridge ventilators.

The former Fire Hall including:

  • The ridge ventilators, porch, and storm entry.
  • The former Foam Shed.

Abbotsford CPR Station Building

Formerly Downtown Abbotsford, building relocated in 1981

Original LocationCurrent Location

Description of Place

The former CPR Abbotsford station building was situated on West railway Street to the south of the Essendene Avenue grade crossing. It is presently situated at the property known as the Heritage Valley Resort. It is a Canadian Pacific Railway Standard No. 5 Station, classified by Bohi and Kozma as a Type 12 depot. The two-storey wood-frame building has a bracket supported canopy along the track side of the building, which now protects a reconstruction timber platform. The projecting bay of the former office accommodated a signal frame (now removed) and the doors to the former freight room have been partly replaced by later work. The lower floor level is clad with rusticated siding and the upper level adopting the dormer form characteristic of the Company’s stations is clad with hung cedar shakes. The upper level windows have glazing bars to the top sashes. There is a later carport attached to the former roadside elevation.

Comparative Analysis

Of the 11 of the Type 12 buildings erected in British Columbia, only Midway and Abbotsford survive. There were over 150 examples in western Canada, and considerably more located in the East. Very few are extant.

Heritage Value

The railway line between Mission and Huntingdon was opened by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1891. As local railway business boomed in the first decade of the last century, the CPR upgraded its facilities at Abbotsford, including enlargement of the railway yard and a new depot. Abbotsford’s second station, built by Vancouver contractor D. McQuarrie, was opened in August 1911. It cost $5597. The original station was relocated to the end of the new building and used as a warehouse. On 1 April 1912 the customs office was removed from Huntingdon to Abbotsford. The latter’s waiting room, offices and a portion of the freight
shed were used by the customs department until later that summer, when a proper warehouse was constructed near the depot.

The standard design, of which Abbotsford is a nominal example, was designed around the turn of the last century, when the CPR embarked on the development of new standard station designs. These designs relied on the use of common exterior finishes and detailing to achieve a “family resemblance” that evoked a “company brand”. The western Canadian version of the design underwent subtle changes during the three phases of the plan’s use, which occurred between 1904 and 1913. It was a most common design in Alberta and Saskatchewan during the founding years of the many prairie branch lines and associated communities and has largely disappeared with their passing.

A number of B.C. Electric’s large station buildings were adaptations of this CPR design, including Chilliwack, Clayburn, Cloverdale, and Huntingdon.

While Abbotsford used the CPR standard plan as a template, its exterior appearance exhibited significant departures in the finishes used. The CPR’s Pacific Division showed a penchant for adapting the company’s standard designs in its territory, and Abbotsford is a clear example of this philosophy.

The Abbotsford agency was closed in October 1974 and the station was used by company section forces and for miscellaneous storage. For a time it was leased out as a bottle depot. The Abbotsford station was sold and relocated to its present site in 1981.

The former Abbotsford CPR station building is historically significant as a former point of entry and departure to and from Abbotsford, from its construction in 1911 until the post war era. This importance is increased by its rarity and capacity to represent other similar buildings in the Fraser Valley, BC and elsewhere throughout the Canadian Pacific Railway network.

It is aesthetically significant as a substantially intact building by the community, expressed especially at the time of its removal in 1981.

Character Defining Elements
  • The whole of the original building fabric including bracketed canopy, siding, fenestration, roof and symmetrical form.
  • Paint colour scheme including red oxide body, cream trim and sashes, and slate grey roof shingles.
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Abbotsford Lumber Company Log Dump

Mill Lake Park, Central Abbotsford


Description of Place

The remains of the once extensive shingle and planer mills on the former Abbotsford or Matsqui (now Mill) Lake have been reduced to a row of piles presumed to have formed the log dump, situated towards the present western shore of Mill Lake. The piles disappear at their south end into the undergrowth along the lake bank and there is an associated pile cluster between the former log dump and the existing shore line. The site of the milling operation east of the piles has been filled and now forms a car park and recreational ground. The lake itself was an integral part of the mill’s operations incorporating the booming area where the logs were stored and sorted prior to being milled.

Comparative Analysis

Log dumps such as this were once a commonplace part of milling operations, formerly existing in British Columbia at locations including Green Point on Harrison Lake, Chemainus, Oyster Harbour, Giscome, Ocean Falls, Campbell River, Cowichan Lake, Reid Bay, Alberni Inlet, Englewood and Theodosia Arm. 

Heritage Value

The piles are the remnants of the trestle of the private rail line which was used to transport logs from the surrounding area to the mill on Abbotsford Lake was built in 1907. The owners of the Abbotsford Lumber Company, Alexander Johnston and James Cook, installed the original 2.5 miles of logging railway to reach their timber limits south of Abbotsford. The line was serviced by two narrow-gauge Climax locomotives — nos. 1 and 2 – commonly called “dinky loci”, the lettering on the tender of the latter reading “Abbotsford Lumber Mining and Development Company”. They dumped the logs into the lake when the train crossed the trestle. The lake was then used to sort the logs for various uses. Most of the logs were cedar and fir which grew abundantly in the area.

The Abbotsford Lumber Company was acquired by Arthur Trethewey in 1909 when he decided to return to sawmilling. He chose this company as it was an ideal location with access to several railway lines; south to the United States, and east to the Prairie markets. He installed a spur line, of which the log dump is understood to form a part, to the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Great Northern Railway, and the B.C. Electric Railway. In 1910 Arthur installed an electrical plant and other improvements which increased production to 75,000 board feet per day. In order to supply the amount of logs required for this expansion, he increased the length of the rail line to 7 miles pushing into the densely wooded areas of Clearbrook and Huntingdon. Operations continued until the mid 1930s.

The remains of the Abbotsford Lumber Company log dump consisting of a row of piles and associated pile cluster are historically significant for their capacity to recall Abbotsford’s early years as a settlement when the logging industry constituted a important part of its economic base. They are closely associated with the lake itself, which served as a storage pond, and with the home of the Trethewey family facing Ware Street.

The piles may also be significant as a rare extant site of its type, presumed to be unique in the Lower Mainland.

Character Defining Elements
  • The row of piles in the lake and associated pile cluster.
  • Mill Lake itself.
  • Trethewey House (see additional statement of significance below).

Atangard Hotel

also known as the Fraser Valley Inn, Downtown Abbotsford


Description of Place

The former Atangard Hotel, now known as the Fraser Valley Inn, is situated on the south­west corner of Essendene Avenue and Montvue Avenue. It is a prominently situated two storeyed brick former hotel with a sympathetic addition accommodating the liquor store at the south end of the building. The street level facades have been defaced and the original hotel entrance removed but the upper level is substantially intact with Clayburn face bricks, cement faced lintels simulating stonework and sills to the symmetrically arranged windows of recent date. There is a cement stringcourse separating the upper level from street level and a bracketed sheet metal cornice immediately below the parapeted principal elevations. The Montvue Avenue elevation is surmounted by a flat topped stepped pediment with the former name “ATANGARD” in relief.

Heritage Value

The Commercial Hotel was situated on the site of the present building, being destroyed by fire in 1922. Messrs. Atkinson and Gardiner – hence “Atangard”, – opened their Atangard Hotel here on 15th April, 1927. It was renamed the Fraser Valley Inn in 1968, the addition accommodating the liquor store post-dating a 1976 view. The proprietors had secured a prominent downtown site on the old transcontinental route through Abbotsford which passed through Essendene prior to the opening of Highway 401 in 1959.

The building is aesthetically important to the identity of the Abbotsford downtown area today, being the largest and most prominent early brick building on Essendene, dominating the point of entry into downtown from the east. The use of Clayburn bricks on the upper level elevations recalls the former importance of the Clayburn Brickworks in the history of the locality and whilst its architectural treatment is representative of the period it is unique in the downtown.

It is historically important for its capacity to demonstrate the downtown’s former role as the commercial centre of Abbotsford and an inevitable location for its principal hotel.

Character Defining Elements

The upper level façade complete with:

  • Symmetrically arranged windows to both elevations.
  • Parapet line and pediment with the name “ATANGARD”.
  • A cornice and stringcourse.
  • Clayburn face bricks.
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B.C. Electric Embankment and Bridges

Vye Road, Upper Sumas Prairie and Arnold

Description of Place

This is an approximately 5km long railway embankment varying in height between 3 and 4 metres, attaining these heights between the Fadden Road grade crossing in the west and the curve beside the former substation in the east. It incorporates the following elements:

  • The former substation complex (see separate statement of significance below).
  • 3 span all timber trestle rail overbridge at Marion Road.
  • 9 span timber trestle rail overbridge at Arnold Road with steel girders to the roadway span, cross bracing and longitudinal ties to the highest section spanning the watercourse.
  • 3 span all timber trestle rail overbridge bridge at Bowan Road.
  • Siding at the site of Norton.
  • 9 span all timber trestle rail overbridge spanning a watercourse and unformed roadway with cross bracing and longitudinal ties over the watercourse
  • 3 span timber trestle rail overbridge with steel girders to the roadway span at Lamson.
  • The Fadden Road grade crossing.
Heritage Value

Planning for the future BC electric line to Chilliwack commenced in 1907 with F.N. Sinclair, civil engineer, surveying the route. With the Great Northern Railway already occupying the southern edge of Sumas Mountain facing Sumas Lake, the B.C. Electric purchased the Sumas Development Company formed in 1905 to drain the lake. Faced, however, with the huge costs of carrying this work out, the company resolved in the late Spring of 1909 to skirt the southern edge of the lake by running along the base of Vedder Mountain. This route had the additional advantage of running through Huntingdon to meet with US railroads having connections with Bellingham and beyond. Construction, however, involved “spending much time, and effort, and upkeep, on fill for this problematic section of right of way” so as to avoid the encroaching waters of the lake at times of high water. Indeed, early photographs show the embankment surrounded on both sides by waters from the expanded lake. The former BC Electric interurban railway was opened as far as Chilliwack on 3rd October, 1910. Sumas Lake was eventually drained in 1924. Whilst electric interurban services were withdrawn in 1950 the line has remained open for freight and is presently operated by the Southern Railway of British Columbia.

The embankment with its associated structures and siding is historically significant as an important extant engineering work of the former B.C. Electric Railway and for its capacity to interpret past land forms, notably the existence of Sumas Lake until it was drained in 1924.

Character Defining Elements
  • The embankment.
  • The timber trestle bridges.
  • The siding at Norton.
Additional Links

B.C. Electric Sumas Substation Complex

Old Yale Road at Powerhouse Road, Arnold


Description of Place

The site consists of the former BC Electric (now Southern Railway of BC) railway line, siding, substation, and section house.

The machinery has been removed from the substation but the building remains in its original form, although recently overpainted. The symmetrical tri-partite façade consists of a basement storey, piano nobile and attic storey characteristic of the palazzo form, the latter being distinguished by oculus windows which return around the sides. There is a surmounting pediment, the words “BRITISH COLUMBIA ELECTRIC RAILWAY CO” being applied in raised cement to the architrave. The words “SUMAS SUB STATION” also in raised cement are contained within a cartouche above the main entry.

The timber framed section house consists of two gable roofed wings with rusticated siding, the section aligned at right angles to the railway presumed to be the former waiting shelter; the open section having been removed.

Comparative Analysis

Of the five substations originally built, only two survive, the other being at Coghlan siding. There are no extant waiting shelters although an accurate replica of the Sullivan shelter based on a close study of the original fabric has been built for the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway.

Heritage Value

The former BC Electric interurban railway was opened as far as Chilliwack on 3rd October, 1910. The substation at this point was designed by British born architect Henry Barton Watson (1869-1946) who worked in the office of the BC Electric Railway in 1909-10 whilst the interurban line was being built. It was one of five similar designs in a monumental Classical Revival mode recalling Renaissance palazzi forms. It was also one of the three substations open at the time of the inaugural run, playing an important role when a tree brought down the overhead lines immediately prior to the arrival of the first train. Whilst it was a steam locomotive that saved the day, power supplied by this substation enabled the return run to New Westminster to be made under electric power west of the substation. The concrete floors were reinforced in 1934, the building being the last of the five substations to be decommissioned following the withdrawal of interurban services in 1950. The dates of construction of the waiting shelter, which was later adapted to form part of the existing section house and the freight shed are not known but they are presumed to date from the opening of the line.

The complex of structures including the railway line, siding, substation, and section house is historically significant as the most complete surviving complex of original structures on the former BC Electric route. Furthermore, these structures are highly representative of others long since demolished along the entire length of the line and are therefore representative of its architectural character more generally. They may well constitute the most complete assemblage of in situ structures built for an electric interurban railway in the country.

The substation is aesthetically important as a rare public building in the Renaissance Revival mode interpreting the Italian palazzo form in the Fraser Valley. It is unique in the Abbotsford area and its aesthetic qualities are enhanced by its remote and picturesque situation at the foot of Vedder Mountain.

Character Defining Elements
  • The complex’s isolation from other non-railway structures and its picturesque location.
  • Substation façade elements, including symmetry, tripartite pedimented form, basement, piano nobile and attic storey, fenestration pattern, main staircase, subordinate wings and cast cement lettering. Note that the recent overpainting has detracted from the integrity of the building.
  • Building form generally, fenestration throughout.
  • Entire structure of the section house until such time as the element consisting of the original waiting shelter has been identified with certainty.
Additional Links

Clayburn Church


Description of Place

The Clayburn Church is a restored 1912 structure that was originally built for a Presbyterian congregation. This red-brick church is located in the brick-making village of Clayburn, on the west side of Sumas Mountain, in relative proximity to the other early, principal structures in the village including Clayburn School.

Heritage Value

Located within the Village of Clayburn, British Columbia’s first company town, Clayburn Church is symbolic of the early life in the village and also its primary industrial activity of brick-making. The village and brick plant were founded in 1905 by Charles Maclure, son of John Maclure, a former Royal Engineer who settled on a government land grant west of Clayburn. Company towns provided housing and services in order to sustain a productive workforce in what were usually isolated conditions. The plant operated in Clayburn until the 1930s, when the plant relocated and most of the original residents moved away.

Built in 1912, the Clayburn Church is one of the landmark structures in the community due to its early vernacular architecture and conspicuous utilization of the highly valued local brick from the Clayburn brickyards. Modest in size and design, the simple village church features a steeply pitched roof with rooftop belfry and rectangular plan. The church was constructed of red brick on the exterior and exposed buff brick interior walls, a specialty of the Clayburn Company. The interior brick, which typically would have been clad with finishing material, is exposed, indicating the pride the community had for their local product.

Indicative of the high regard the community held for the church, when it was in severely deteriorated condition, the building was dismantled piece by piece in 1978 and reconstructed using as much salvageable material as was possible. Furthermore, as many of the original exterior bricks could not be re-used, new bricks of a similar type were reproduced at Clayburn Industries, the successor to the Clayburn Brickworks, perpetuating the link between the community and this prominent local company.

The Clayburn Church is also of value for its role of service to the community as a place of worship and community gathering. It served a Presbyterian congregation until Church Unification in 1925, when it voted to join the new United Church of Canada. Clayburn Church was closed in 1958 when the congregation amalgamated with Trinity Memorial Church in Abbotsford. Since re-opening in 1978, the sanctuary has been used as a community place of worship, weddings, christenings and other community functions.

Character Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of Clayburn Church include its:

  • Location, on its original lot, close to its original location, near other historic Clayburn structures.
  • Ecclesiastical form, scale and massing as expressed by its regular, rectangular plan with small square front porch with front gabled roof.
  • Steeply pitched front gabled roof clad in cedar shingles; rooftop belfry with shingle-clad base, louvered vents and pyramidal roof topped by a small wooden finial.
  • Interior and exterior masonry construction: brick, cavity wall construction with red brick exterior; exposed, buff coloured brick interior walls utilizing the original interior bricks; rear addition feature wall utilizing original, exterior red bricks.
  • Fenestration, including: segmental arched openings with multi-paned, wooden-sash casement window assemblies within main sanctuary; multi-paned, fixed wooden-sash windows in porch; louvered front vent; and front entrance with fir panelled, v-joint front doors
  • Interior features such as fir mouldings surrounding window and door openings; raised altar with original, turned, fir railing; fir floor; open interior plan; and high, exposed wooden truss roof with plank ceiling.

Clayburn School


Description of Place

Clayburn School is a wood-frame, one-storey plus basement schoolhouse with two large gabled extensions on the front facade. It is located in the village of Clayburn, on the west side of Sumas Mountain, in relative proximity to the other early, principal structures in the village including Clayburn Church.

Heritage Value

Located within the Village of Clayburn, British Columbia’s first company town, Clayburn School is symbolic of the early life in the village and the establishment of the services required for the families who settled here. The village and brick plant were founded in 1905 by Charles Maclure, son of John Maclure, a former Royal Engineer who settled on a government land grant west of Clayburn. Company towns provided housing and services in order to sustain a productive workforce in what were usually isolated conditions. The plant operated in Clayburn until the 1930s, when the plant relocated and most of the original residents moved away.

Built in 1907-08, the Clayburn School is of heritage value as one of the earliest structures in Clayburn Village. Representative of early twentieth century schoolhouse design, the Clayburn School is built on a simple rectangular plan with a hipped roof, and features banked windows on the side elevations. Larger than many rural schools which were comprised of one room, the Clayburn School was built as a two-room school. In 1925 the school was raised with the new basement doubling the size of school, allowing overflow students who were being instructed at the church to return to the school to receive their education.

Clayburn School was constructed by prominent Fraser Valley contractor, Robert Harvey Brock (1868-1947), following the standards of British Columbia public school architecture laid out by the Department of Lands and Works, which provided the plan and specified the orientation of the building. The banked windows allowed abundant natural light into the classrooms but also sufficient wall space for large blackboards. It indicates the values and the design control of school boards of the time, and the central role of the provincial government in setting educational standards.

The Clayburn School is also significant for its continuing role in the community. During the Second World War, the school served as a community hall, then was used again as a school until 1983, when it was sold to C. & T. Bosch and rezoned to residential use. The Clayburn Village Community Society purchased it in 1991, and has been responsible for several restorations of the school house. Today it continues to be used for community purposes and also houses the Society’s collection of artifacts and photos, acting as an informal museum and interpreting the nature of early education in the village.

Character Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Clayburn School include its:

  • Original location, near other historic Clayburn structures.
  • Institutional form, scale and massing as expressed by its one-storey rectangular plan with small, rectangular front elevation extensions; and raised basement.
  • Wood-frame construction with lapped siding and cornerboards.
  • Cedar shingled, hipped roof; front gabled roofs on the extensions; closed eaves.
  • exterior features such as the shed roof, enclosed, central front entrance; exterior basement entrances; and rear entrance with small, open, gabled roof porch; and buff brick chimney.
  • Variety of wooden-sash windows, including: double-hung 2-over-2 front elevation windows; multiple-assembly double-hung 6-over-6 side elevation windows; fixed sash basement windows (four and six-paned) with hopper transom lights (two and three-paned); and three and six-paned fixed sash basement windows.
  • Interior features such as tongue-and-groove clad ceiling and walls in porch extension; tongue-and-groove wainscoting in the schoolrooms; and associated fixtures such as blackboards.
  • Associated landscape features such as adjacent creek and grassed side and rear yards.
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CPR Mission Railway Bridge


Description of Place

This is an 11 span bridge across the Fraser River consisting of two girder spans at either end and 8 riveted lattice girder steel Pratt trusses and a swing span two spans north of the southern bank. It is approximately 533 metres long. The swing span has a 4.9 metre clearance above water level and is mounted above a circular reinforced concrete pier protected from river traffic by two 46 metre timber piers with cutwater terminations. The swing span is further distinguished from the parallel chord Pratt trusses by an arched upper chord with sway bracing and gussets, some of which have been replaced with solid triangular panels, the original open gussets having in conjunction with the sway bracing an ornamental effect. At the centre of the span a pyramidal tower carries the overhead lines to the electric motors powering the bridge which has a control booth manned by the bridge tender who occupies a recent office situated at the north end of the bridge. The through Pratt trusses are supported on reinforced concrete piers with cutwater profiles facing up stream.

The bridge is situated at the head of the Fraser River tidal bore and there is a water level gauge here to measure the river’s spring freshet.

Comparative Analysis

Railway bridges spanning the Fraser River using through Pratt trusses exist at Hope (291 metres long, completed 1915) and Cisco (160 metres long, built 1910) but none of these has a swing section. The New Westminster (726 metres, completed 1904) also uses through trusses and has a swing span. It was Federally funded and has been partially re-built in recent years, evidence of the former upper level road being extant in at least one of the spans. The shorter Second Narrows bridge spanning Burrard Inlet uses Pratt trusses but was completed later in 1926, the original bascule span since replaced with a lift span, and the entire structure rebuilt. The Fraser River bridge (810 metres long, built 1914) at Prince George uses Pratt trusses and is distinguished not only by its size but by its vertical lift bridge invented by Joseph Strauss and thought to be one of only two in North America.

Heritage Value

The Fraser River at this point was first spanned by means of a timber bridge with a swing bridge in 1891 at the time of the opening of the line between Mission and Huntingdon. This line formed part of the important CPR/Northern Pacific route to Seattle, hence its early date. It was the first river crossing south of the Cisco bridge at Siska, imparting strategic significance to Mission especially prior to the opening of the combined road and rail bridge at New Westminster in 1904. The bridge was renewed in timber at a later time and again in steel with the existing swing section powered by a horse named “Charlie” being erected in 1903. The other spans were finally replaced in 1909 with “Charlie” being retired in that year, the swing section thereafter being electrically driven. It is presumed that J.G. Sullivan, the CPR’s chief engineer of Western Lines had responsibility for the work. Road and pedestrian traffic was not permitted until the planking of the deck in 1927 when trains maintained priority over road traffic until the opening of the Mission Highway road bridge in 1973. In 1955 one of the spans collapsed into the river following the weakening of a pier during the freshet. It was reopened to traffic the following year. The southern most girder span appears to be of a recent date.

The Canadian Pacific Railway bridge over the Fraser River at Mission is historically significant as a strategically important combined road and rail bridge comparable with the longer bridge at New Westminster and imparting economic importance to the city of Mission especially up until the opening of the present road crossing in 1973. It is important also as a long standing rail crossing of crucial importance to transcontinental rail services provided by the CPR, the CNR and VIA Rail and has been in continuous intensive use since 1903/09. This importance is enhanced by the bridge’s role as a crossing point for rail services to Abbotsford and the US.

Whilst the use of through Pratt trusses is commonplace on railway systems, the Mission bridge is nevertheless technically significant in the Fraser Valley on account of its overall length and incorporation of a swing section, being the longest intact bridge of this type.

Character Defining Elements
  • The 10 northernmost spans including the swing section with its timber piers, and all reinforced concrete supporting piers.
  • The sway bracing and open gussets to the swing section.
  • The electrical tower surmounting the swing section.

Great Northern Railway Bridge Site and Embankment

Ellwood and Fishtrap Creek Parks


Description of Place

This site is situated in the Park to the north of the Old Yale Road. It includes the Fishtrap Creek and the banks on both sides of the creek.

Heritage Value

The site of the former Great Northern Railway trestle bridge over the Fishtrap Creek has heritage value for its capacity to interpret the history of the railway which traversed the forested land in this vicinity prior to the expansion of the City of Abbotsford along the route of the Old Yale Road. The Great Northern Railway was built through this area as the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway between Huntingdon and Cloverdale in 1908 and was abandoned in 1929. The height of the surviving earthworks together with the implied dimensions of the mostly demolished trestle bridge provide an indication of the scale of investment and aspirations of the V. V. & E., a subsidiary of James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railway. This railway is significant in the history of southern British Columbia to the extent that it represented the vigorous rivalry which once existed between the GNR and the Canadian Pacific Railway, at least up until Hill’s death in 1916.

The GNR generated business in the area of present day Abbotsford by means of sidings at Abbotsford, Abbotsford Timber Spur, Pinegrove Lumber Company Spur, Pinegrove and Fish Trap Pit. By 1924, a mixed goods and passenger train crossed over the bridge at this location daily except Sunday eastbound at approximately 8:45 am and westbound at 10:45 am.

Character Defining Elements
  • The east side approach embankment which is approximately 15 metres high and 75 metres long, the eastern end terminating abruptly as if it has been excavated following abandonment. There is a cleared walkway along the top of the embankment with approach steps and a “look-out” at the west end.
  • At least 10 trestle bridge pile ends visible in the water at the base of the embankment.
  • At least 13 trestle bridge pile ends visible in the water beyond the island in the middle of the creek.
  • The arrangement of two groups of pile ends at the western extremity of the site clearly indicative of the trestles that once supported the crossheads and rails above.
  • The island in the middle of the creek which has not been inspected but which may contain further pile ends.


Great Northern Railway Trestle Bridge

Sumas River beside Lakemount Road


Description of Place

In east Abbotsford this site is situated on the north side of Sumas River which is in itself the remaining portion of the former Sumas Lake. The remnants of this very long former bridge consist of approximately 100 spans between rows of 6-8 piles of sufficient width to support the bridge deck above, the cross heads and deck having been removed. The piles when visited were approximately 1.2-1.5 metres above water level. They appear to have connected sections of the former lake bank along what is now the south side of Lakemount Road.

Heritage Value

The Great Northern Railway was extended east of Abbotsford as far as Kilgard as the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway in 1912 and beyond to the main line of the Canadian Northern Railway — later the Canadian National Railway — in 1916. It was abandoned circa 1929. 

The remains of the former Great Northern Railway trestle over the edge of Sumas River has heritage significance for its capacity to interpret the history of the railway which skirted the base of the mountains around the former northern edge of Sumas Lake. The length of the surviving pilings (estimated at .3 km long) provides an indication of the scale of investment and aspirations of the Victoria Vancouver and Eastern Railway, a subsidiary of James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railway. This railway is significant in the history of southern British Columbia to the extent that it represented the vigorous rivalry which once existing between the GNR and the Canadian Pacific Railway, at least up until Hill’s death in 1916. The place is important also as the longest surviving bridge remnant of the former GNR in the Fraser Valley, a consideration heightened by the fact that the line survived in use for only 13 years.

Character Defining Elements
  • Trestle bridge pile ends that extend .3 km across the Sumas River from river bank to river bank.
  • Rows of 6 to 8 piles at approximately 3 metre centres along the entire length identified above.
Additional Links

Gur Sikh Temple Gurdwara

South Fraser Way


Description of Place

The Gur Sikh Temple Gurdwara is a one and one-half storey wood-frame vernacular structure set on a full raised basement, with a false front parapet, an upper balcony running along three of the facades, and a prominent poured concrete stairway leading to the main entrance on the upper level. It is located on a prominent knoll on south Fraser Way in the centre of Abbotsford, between the early settlements of Clearbrook and downtown Abbotsford. The Gurdwara has been designated as a National Historic Site, including the original temple building with its additions, the present Nishan Sahib flag and the bases of earlier flag poles, including the remnants of the base of the original flag pole.

Heritage Value

The Gur Sikh Temple Gurdwara is a valuable symbol of the early roots of the Sikh community and the broader South Asian community in Canada. The builders of this temple were part of the initial wave of immigration from India before a targeted, racist immigration policy was implemented which made further immigration extremely difficult for the next fifty years. The Sikh population was centered around Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island and consisted mainly of men whose families remained in India. Locally, most of the Sikh immigrants worked for the Abbotsford Lumber Company, once BC’s third largest forestry employer. The use of local materials to construct the temple is significant, demonstrating the community’s connection to the local lumber industry.

The Gur Sikh Temple Gurdwara is the only temple from the early settler phase of Sikh immigration to Canada that has survived, and is the oldest surviving Gurdwara in North America. Construction started on the temple in 1910 and was completed by 1912. Built of wood-frame construction, the false front parapet, simple rectangular floor plan and front gabled roof are typical of vernacular commercial buildings of the period. This was a pragmatic adaptation of Sikh traditions using a common frontier style. The building is typical of early purpose-built Canadian Sikh temples, containing all the elements of a traditional Gurdwara, including the prayer hall on the upper level and a communal kitchen and dining area at ground level. The utilitarian interior with tongue-and-groove wooden walls, and regular fenestration became common features of early Canadian temples. The location at the crest of a hill on busy South Fraser Way contributes to the Sikh Temple’s landmark status.

The Gurdwara was the centre of Abbotsford’s Sikh community, serving both religious and social needs and acting as the reception centre for new immigrants. It was enlarged to the rear in 1932 to extend the prayer hall and a second addition was built in the late 1960s, changes which reflect the growth of the local Sikh community in the middle 20th century. A new, much larger Gurdwara was constructed across the road in 1983, but the original temple was retained as a symbol of the struggles and achievements of the early Sikh settlers.

Character Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Gur Sikh Temple Gurdwara include:

  • Its original location on a prominent knoll on South Fraser Way.
  • The institutional, vernacular form, scale and massing as expressed by its one and one-half-storey height, full raised basement, simple rectangular floor plan, and informal additions to the rear.
  • Exterior architectural details such as its false front parapet; front gable roof with generous porch roof, supported by steel posts; wraparound upper verandah running along three sides; a prominent central, poured concrete stairway leading to the main entrance on the upper level; five separate staircases to access the upper level.
  • Its wood-frame construction, with horizontal wooden siding, and door and window mouldings of dimensional lumber.
  • Masonry elements such as board-formed concrete foundations and brick chimneys.
  • Exterior details of the two rear additions, the first with a dropped roofline and the second with a cubic form with a slightly sloped roof.
  • Regular fenestration, with double-hung, 1-over-1, wooden-sash windows.
  • The spatial configuration of the utilitarian interior such as the main central entrance opening directly into the upper-storey prayer hall, with a community kitchen and dining hall on the lower level.
  • Interior details in the prayer hall including the narrow tongue-and-groove wooden panelling, picture rail, raised floor, wooden arches and ornate canopy defining the altar, and early pendant light fixture.
  • The present Nishan Sahib flag and pole and the bases of earlier flag poles, including the remnants of the original.
Additional Links

Ibbitson (Ebbeson) Cabin

8th Ave (Huntington Road), Peardonville


Description of Place

An early notched log cabin, rectangular on plan without windows and having a doorway at one end. The gabled ends have board and batten hung palings and the roof linings are hand split shakes. There are occasional small holes drilled into the logs at critical points.

Comparative Analysis

There are no other extant cabins of this type known in the municipality. Photographs of Charles Hill-Tout’s log house (1890s demolished), though larger and with windows was similar in detail and form. The Alonzo Boley cabin was comparable in size but different in detail.

Heritage Value

This log cabin is known to have been built by Jake Ibbitson, one of the district’s earliest settlers, in the 1880s at a time when the forested land at Peardonville was being cleared for agricultural and grazing purposes. Access to the area was obtained via the Fraser River landing at Mount Lehman with a trail running south through the Mount Lehman settlement towards the US border at Peardonville.

The log cabin is historically significant for its capacity to demonstrate aspects of early settler life in the municipality generally and at Peardonville in particular. It offers insights into the deprivations of early settler life and recalls the former abundance of timber from which the cabin was fashioned. This significance is enhanced by its rarity, log structures of this type being known to be commonplace during the foundational years of the municipality.

It is aesthetically significant as a picturesque structure of its type.

It is technically significant as a resource of information for present and future generations, demonstrating traditional log construction techniques used in the area.

Character Defining Elements
  • The entire cabin.
  • Materials of construction including logs, shakes and hung palings.
  • The drilled holes in the logs.
Additional Links

Matsqui Evangelical Lutheran Church

Also known as the Goshen Evangelical Lutheran Church, Matsqui Village


Description of Place

The place referred to herein is the church which located within the property lines of 5781 Riverside Street, Abbotsford, BC, which is situated in Matsqui Village on Matsqui Prairie. Excluded is the parlour, which is attached to the church’s northern wall, and which is of a later date than the church proper.

Heritage Value

Matsqui Evangelical Lutheran Church opened in 1904 and was originally named Goshen Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was the first of three churches built in Matsqui Village, the commercial centre of Matsqui. The village was founded by a number of Scandinavian settlers, and the church’s founding members were of Norwegian ancestry. As a result, the church is laid out exactly like a Scandinavian visitor would expect; the bell tower is capped off with a tall spire, there is a small porch and entrance to the nave, the building is longitudinal and cruciform but without transepts, the chancel with the font, altar and crucifix is in the rear, and the siding is wood clapboard which has been painted white.

The building is distinctly a church, a building dedicated to religious use, as opposed to a building meant for public or secular use, and it is located within the village in such a way as to be the tallest point – the first thing one sees of the Village at a distance even to this day. When the church was constructed, it was the very first building on the west side of Riverside Road as one arrived by land from the south, but no matter which way one would have arrived to the village, this would have been the first thing you would have noticed as you approached. When it was built, it was located in the absolute heart of the community, right at the intersection of St. Olav Ave. and Riverside St., the roads which connect Matsqui Village with the Village of Abbotsford to the south, Matsqui Village to the landing on the Fraser River to its north, and Matsqui Village to Ridgedale and Clayburn Village to its east. Fittingly, those exiting the church have a view of the street named for the patron saint of Norway. Although it is a very Scandinavian-looking church in terms of morphology and siding, it was built with typical Canadian West Coast materials and framing techniques. The church is also “typically Scandinavian” in the psychological sense: it is, notably, not Henry III’s Westminster Abby, built on big dreams, but instead, designed to fit it the new landscape, i.e. not to stick out. Much like the Scandinavian pioneers themselves, it disappears into the crowd and becomes “one of many”.

By Heath’s definition, the typical frontier settlement pattern is one where borrowed forms, brought from the homeland, are filtered through new environmental and cultural screens (Heath 2003:53). In Matsqui, the builders were focused on the building’s function, and wanted to include the morphological features specified by the Scandinavian rules of what a church should be, into the new building in a new country where other rules applied. They copied pattern language bits which were typical of other Lutheran churches, while also introducing pattern language bits from secular buildings, so that the patterns were combined differently than one would expect them to be in the old countries.

In short, the heritage value lies in that the building is a typical Lutheran post-Reformation church, likely the oldest extant church in Abbotsford, and the only one of its kind in the area. It is the only one of the three religious centres of the original Village (once the commercial centre of Matsqui) still standing. It is the only physical reminder of the Scandinavian ethno-cultural origins of the village. It is not only important due to its typically Scandinavian morphology and its age, but also because of its social significance in the community.

Character Defining Elements

The building from 1903/04 including:

  • The longitudinal structure without transepts; only the interior shows the cruciform layout with a nave typical of post-reformation Lutheran churches.
  • The siding material is white wood clapboard.
  • The roofing material is asphalt shingle, originally laid in a checker pattern.
  • Each side of the building has three large pointed windows, and the double front doors are capped off with a pointed window.
Additional Links

Heath, K. W. 2003. Defining the Nature of Vernacular. In Material Culture Vol. 35, No. 2 (FALL 2003), pp. 48-54. Pioneer America Society. http://www.jstor.org/stable/29764189. Accessed March 1st, 2015.

Mount Lehman Community Hall

6418 Mount Lehman Road, Mount Lehman


Description of Place

The Mount Lehman Community Hall is situated at 6418 Mount Lehman Road at the corner of Taylor Road. It is a prominent gable roofed timber framed hall with lean-to porch and later additions at the rear. The recent external cladding conceals the presumed side windows to the hall. It is devoid of ornamentation although a small oculus vent exists in the apex of the gable ends. Inside all linings have been renewed except for the painted beaded timber ceiling linings with sloping sides.

Comparative Analysis

Comparable halls within the Municipality include the Aberdeen, Matsqui (1931), Peardonville (1925), Pine Grove (1937-1988), Poplar and Straiton halls.

Heritage Value

Mount Lehman has its origins in the clearing of the land and its exploitation for agricultural and grazing purposes from the 1860s. Access to the area was obtained via the Fraser River landing and a trail ran south past the site of the present hall towards the US border via Peardonville. A community was established here from this time, supported by a general store, school and churches. The hall followed in 1904 at the end of Landing Road where Taylor Road crosses Mount Lehman Road. It was built as near as practical to the landing place and geographical centre of the growing community and has remained in use as a centre for community activities since that time.

The Mount Lehman Community Hall has historic value as the principal public meeting place and centre for community activity in Mount Lehman since 1904. Its location close by the point at which Landing Road heads off to the former landing place on the Fraser River recalls the origins of the settlement, determined by the river as the earliest route through the Fraser Valley, pre-dating the BC Electric and subsequent era of private road transport.

Together with the Mount Lehman Elementary School opposite it has constituted the historic focus of the community for over a century.

Character Defining Elements
  • The main gable roofed hall.
  • The presumed side windows to the hall.
  • The front porch.
  • The internal ceiling linings to the main hall.
Additional Links

Mount Lehman Elementary School

6381 Mount Lehman Road, Mount Lehman


Description of Place

The Mount Lehman Elementary School is situated at 6381 Mount Lehman Road at the corner of Taylor Road. It is cruciform on plan in a Classically derived style with a symmetrical façade having a projecting centrally placed section with flanking wings. The projecting symmetrical element has a defined tympanum and architrave which encircles the building at eaves level. There are symmetrical double hung windows with glazing bars and an oculus vent in the tympana. There is a basement level and narrow boarded siding throughout. The façade wings are symmetrical with porches and the side tympana surmount continuous class room windows. The roof is shingled and there are sympathetic additions on the north side.

Comparative Analysis

There are no similar school buildings within the municipality.

Heritage Value

Mount Lehman has its origins in the clearing of the land and its exploitation for agricultural and grazing purposes from the 1860s. Access to the area was obtained via the Fraser River landing and a trail ran south past the site of the present hall towards the US border via Peardonville. A community was established here from this time with a one room school being erected on land donated by James Bangs in 1884. It functioned also as a church and community centre. The present two roomed school building was built in 1912 and subsequently raised to provide a basement level. A gymnasium was added in 1935 and new classrooms followed during the post War period.

The Mount Lehman Elementary School is historically significant as the centre of education for the community of Mount Lehman since 1912. Together with the Community Hall diagonally opposite it has constituted the historic focus of the community for over a century.

It is aesthetically significant as a representative example of the Classical Revival Style commonly applied to schools during the early years of the twentieth century and is especially important as an example of the style using timber construction.

Character Defining Elements

The school building of 1912 including:

  • The cruciform plan and symmetrical treatment.
  • The narrow boarded siding, original timber windows, oculus vents, architraves and angle stops, porches and roof form.
Additional Links

Mount Lehman Landing

Landing Road, Mount Lehman


Description of Place

The site commences at the north-east end of Landing Road and includes the row of mature maples and former roadway dropping down to the site of the former CN station at Mount Lehman. It includes the main line of railway and abandoned siding together with the row of approximately 200 piles along the shoreline at this point.

Comparative Analysis

In spite of the many years past since the abandonment of the Fraser River landings, several sites can be discerned especially during low water when the piles emerge above water level. Other examples on the south bank of the river and in the Municipality include Wade’s Landing at the foot of Sumas Mountain and the extant landing piles at the Mission Bridge. To the west, beyond the Municipal boundary, the Glen Valley landing complete with sunken hulk is significant.

Heritage Value

Mount Lehman Landing was probably established with the settlement of the high land between Glen Valley and the Matsqui Flats, Samuel and Isaac Lehman settling on the bluff overlooking the Fraser River in 1875. The landing gave access to an early trail running south to Peardonville and beyond, the present alignment of Peardonville Road recalling its route through the district. The area was initially logged and by 1883 Thompson’s general store and the Mount Lehman post office were situated at the Landing. It is also known that a W. Middleton moved to Mount Lehman Landing from Vancouver to “handle groceries and provisions throughout the Fraser Valley”. The winding road down to the Landing was used to bring goods up from the river and cord wood among other things down to the Landing to fuel the paddle steamers. When the British Columbia Electric Railway Company opened its interurban route through Mount Lehman to Chilliwack in October 1910, the commercial centre of the locality shifted from the Landing to the railway crossing at Mount Lehman Road where the post office and store relocated. The Canadian Northern Railway (Canadian National Railway from 1923) opened its line along the south bank of the Fraser River in 1915, completing its transcontinental line to Vancouver in that year. A freight and passenger shelter was opened here in 1916 and removed in 1960, the roadway down to the Landing having been closed by approximately 1950. Photographs show that there was a substantial two storied building beside the railway lines in addition to the station at one time.

The site including the access road, mature maples, railway with abandoned siding and river bank piles widely understood to form part of the abandoned landing itself has historic value for its capacity to illustrate an aspect of the first stage in the evolution of the settlement at Mount Lehman. It represents the earliest phase in the development of transportation routes in the area consisting of the Fraser River itself and the trail commencing at the Landing and heading south through Peardonville into the US.

Character Defining Elements
  • The access way beyond the present concrete barriers on Landing Road.
  • The mature maple trees along one side of the access way.
  • The railway and abandoned siding.
  • The approximately 200 piles understood to be the remains of the original landing.

Mount Lehman United Church

6256 Mount Lehman Road, Mount Lehman


Description of Place

A small timber framed church with basement in the vernacular Gothic Revival mode but with a timber posted porch having Classical Revival proportions. There are rusticated sidings, lancet arched windows and a steeply pitched shingled roof to the nave. Sympathetic additions have been provided at the rear with a larger wing attached to the north side. There is a plain cross in the front gable end above the porch.

Comparative Analysis

Comparable Gothic Revival timber churches in the municipality include the Matsqui Evangelical Lutheran Church (1904), St. Matthew’s Anglican Church (1900, demolished 1977), St. Ann’s Catholic Church (1929, demolished 2003), and Christ Ambassadors Christian Assembly in Aberdeen.

Heritage Value

Mount Lehman has its origins in the clearing of the land and its exploitation for agricultural and grazing purposes from the 1860s. Access to the area was obtained via the Fraser River landing and a trail ran south past the site of the church towards the US border via Peardonville. A community was established here from this time, supported by a general store and school with the Mount Lehman Church being opened on 15th March, 1894. It was destroyed soon afterwards by a fallen tree and subsequently rebuilt. The congregation was made up of Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and Anglicans who formed what became known as the Union Church. In 1904 it was taken over by the Presbyterians and in 1925 the congregation joined the newly formed United Church of Canada.

The Mount Lehman United Church is historically significant as a place of worship in the community since approximately 1894 and of interest as a multi-denominational church from its inception.

It is aesthetically significant as a vernacular Gothic Revival parish church once commonplace but now increasingly rare in BC and the municipality.

It is socially significant for the value placed on it by the community today.

Character Defining Elements
  • Massing of the elements of the building including nave, sanctuary and porch.
  • The external fabric including the siding and windows.
Additional Links

Old Yale Road, Former Right-of-Way

also known as the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road, Marion Road to Vye Road, Arnold


Description of Place

The right-of-way for what is now known as the Old Yale Road was established in 1874 as part of the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road, on an trail created and used by the Stó:lō. This 1.38 kilometre section of the Old Yale Road running along the base of Vedder Mountain is mostly a formed single lane road with a gravel surface. There are shallow ditches on both sides and, whilst the road surface has been improved and graded in recent years, it retains much of the appearance of a well-constructed wagon road of the late 19th century. The road runs through a second growth coastal rainforest retaining some evidence of logging including tree stumps with springboard notches.

Comparative Analysis

There are no similar sections of the Old Yale Road with these physical characteristics within the municipality.

Heritage Value

The establishment of the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road in 1874 along this stretch of Vedder Mountain reflects the development of trails and wagon roads during the last half of the 19th century in British Columbia. Frequently roads of this nature were built on or close to trails used by Indigneous peoples and early  settlers. This section of the Old Yale Road follows closely an Indigenous transportation route that linked the Semá:th, Máthxwi, and Nuxwsá7aq peoples with those communities living in what is now Chilliwack and further upriver. The creation of the wagon road itself “proved to be challenging, as engineers first needed to determine the high-water mark of Sumas Lake” (MSA Museum Society, 2010 p. 192). This route ran along the east side of the former Sumas Lake, which was drained in 1924.

The route is well elevated above the shore of Sumas Lake to prevent flooding during high water periods. As such it is one of the few cultural features remaining today reflecting the size and significance of Sumas Lake prior to its draining, and comparing in this respect with the former BC Electric embankment running parallel with Vye Road.

The New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road was part of a substantial network of trunk roads developed under the direction of the Colony of British Columbia during the years 1858-71. It was constructed to encourage settlement of the Fraser Valley away from the steamboat landings along the Fraser River. The network served the Fraser Valley and included “the Yale Road (1874) from New Westminster to Hope and Yale at the head of the Fraser Valley, Ladner Trunk Road through Delta (1874), and Scott Road (1875) and McLellan Road (1876) in Surrey” (Scott, 1997 p. 458).

As the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road, this section was in active use as a transportation corridor from 1874 until 1931 when the Trans-Canada Highway was opened on the recently drained Sumas Lake bed. Until the late 1920s the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road remained the only road route between Abbotsford and Chilliwack. All other travel was by riverboats along the Fraser River shifting to the Canadian Northern, the Great Northern, and the BC Electric railways as they opened between 1907 and 1910.

Social and Cultural Impacts

The 160 kilometre (100 mile) route of the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road “substantially open[ed] up the Fraser Valley” for settlement (MSA Museum Society, 2010 p, 192). Prior to 1874 the Fraser Valley was mostly covered with dense coastal forest with occasional clearings or prairies maintained by Indigenous peoples through controlled burns. With the development of the colonial trunk road network, including the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road, and the displacement of Indigenous peoples through the creation of and subsequent shrinking of reserves, the Fraser Valley was gradually logged and its lands converted by settlers for agricultural use.

By 1886 the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road was the only east-west road serving today’s City of Abbotsford. It was supported by the Whatcom and Boundary Commission Trails of the 1850s and Mt Lehman Road and the Matsqui Sleigh Road (today’s Riverside Road roughly follows this route) in the 1870s and 1880s. All of these routes intersected with the east-west spine of the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road, thus unifying the land transportation corridors of the pre-railway era Abbotsford.

In 1881, seven years after the completion of the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road, the entire Fraser Valley population was approximately 6,000 settlers. By 1901, and six years before the completion of the Vancouver, Victoria & Eastern Railway linking the communities south of the Fraser River to Vancouver, the settler population had risen to 52,000 in the Fraser Valley. During the last two decades of the 19th century it is clear that the trunk road network, of which the New Westminster-Hope Road was an important part, led to a dramatic increase in the number of settlers in the Fraser Valley.

Given the introduction of the motor vehicle during the late nineteenth century, the 1874 New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road gains historical significance as the last major engineering work in the Fraser Valley representative of the horse and wagon era. By 1911 British Columbia had “one car for every 116 people… by 1921, the ratio had dropped to an incredible 1:16” (Cherrington, 1992 p. 241). As a result the “Vancouver Auto Club took a keen interest in promoting tours of the valley and initiated directional signs from New Westminster to Hope” (Cherrington, 1992 p. 192).

It is of historical interest that this section of the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road also played a part in the 1912 Thomas Wilby and Jack Haney RED Special auto tour from Halifax to Vancouver — the first all-Canadian transcontinental motor vehicle tour. Wilby wrote in his account of the 49 day journey:

A few miles east of Chilliwack, we found a group of townspeople… awaiting for us by the roadside. Cars were drawn up, ready to escort us into the town and on to New Westminster… (Wilby, 1914 p. 273)

With the draining of Sumas Lake in 1924, the opening of the Inter-provincial Highway between Abbotsford and Chilliwack in the late 1920s, and the completion of a two lane wide modern standard Trans-Canada Highway in 1931, the New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road, now known as Old Yale Road gradually faded as an important transportation route.

This section along the foot of Vedder Mountain remains intact and close to its appearance of the 1920s major trunk road of the Fraser Valley.

This section of the former New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road is historically significant, first as a remnant of the trail network used by local Indigenous communities since before the contact era and additionally as a substantially intact remnant of the first east-west land route utilized by settlers through the Fraser Valley, which played a key role in the colonial exploitation of the region. This significance is enhanced by the route adopted along the lower slopes of Vedder Mountain, bearing testimony to the former presence of Sumas Lake prior to it being drained in 1924 and comparing in this respect with the route adopted by the former BC Electric parallel with the alignment of Vye Road.

This section of the road has aesthetic significance on account of its capacity to illustrate the long since lost character of the road established by its narrow, winding, gravelled carriageway hemmed in by forest and retaining some evidence of early logging activity. This importance is heightened by its isolated character, being remote from closer settlement.

Character Defining Elements
  • The original alignment and right-of-way of this section of the 1874 New Westminster-Hope Wagon Road.
  • The roughly 4 metre wide right-of-way allowing for the passage of a single wagon or motor vehicle.
  • The road’s elevation sufficient to provide a year-round travelling surface not subject to flooding during period of high water in the former Sumas Lake.
  • Associated evidence of logging including tree stumps with spring board notches.
  • The surrounding second growth forest.

Cherrington, John A. 1992. The Fraser Valley: A History. Maderia Park, BC : Harbour Publishing.

MSA Museum Society. 2010. “Old Yale Road”; “Yale Secondary School”. In Alphabetically Abbotsford: People… Places… Parks. Abbotsford : University of Fraser Valley Press.

Scott, Andrew. 1997. “Road and Street Development.” In The Greater Vancouver Book: An Urban Encyclopaedia. Ed. Chuck Davis. Surrey, BC: The Linkman Press.

Wilby, T.W. 1914. A Motor Tour Though Canada. Toronto: Bell & Cockburn.

Peardonville Community Hall

29450 8th Avenue (Huntingdon Road), Peardonville


Description of Place

The Peardonville Community Hall is situated at 29450 8th Avenue (Huntingdon Road), Peardonville, close by the Peardonville Road corner. It is a prominent timber framed public hall with a partial false front, rusticated weatherboard siding, Dutch gabled roof and recent porch. The high light windows have timber sashes with timber glazing bars. There is a basement floor and prominent brick chimney.

Comparative Analysis

Comparable halls within the Municipality include the Aberdeen, Matsqui (1931), Mount Lehman (1904), Pine Grove (1937-1988), Poplar and Straiton halls.

Heritage Value

Peardonville has its origins in the clearing of the land and its exploitation for agricultural and grazing purposes from the 1880s. Access to the area was obtained via the Fraser River landing at Mount Lehman with a trail running south through the Mount Lehman settlement towards the US border at Peardonville. A community was established here supported by a general store, school and church. The site of the hall was occupied by a school which was burnt down in 1923. The present hall followed in 1925 and was used for a period as a preaching station prior to the opening of the nearby Mennonite Church in 1952. The school, subsequently built on the future site of Peardonville House was demolished around 1990. The general store situated a little to the west of the hall was built in 1946 and closed during the 1990s.

The Peardonville Community Hall has historic value as the principal public meeting place and centre for community activity in Peardonville since 1925. It is historically important also as the oldest surviving public building at Peardonville, its presence on 8th Avenue demonstrating the existence of this settlement as a discrete community prior to its absorption into nearby Abbotsford.

It is aesthetically important on account of the survival of the original cladding materials and windows, the porch being the only obvious element of recent date.

It is socially important as a focus and gathering place for the community of Peardonville since 1925.

Character Defining Elements
  • The hall.
  • The partial false front and roof form.
  • The timber sash windows.
  • The timber siding.
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Trethewey House

Ware Street, Mill Lake Park


Description of Place

The Trethewey House is a large one and one-half storey plus basement, wood-frame Craftsman house. It is situated on a large lot in central Abbotsford, to the east of Clearbrook near Mill Lake, with a landmark stand of Douglas fir trees at the front of the property. The house and its property are now the home of the Heritage Abbotsford Society. The interior and exterior of the house have been restored and it is now used for interpretive purposes.

Heritage Value

Constructed in 1920, the Trethewey House is significant as the most substantial historic house in the Mill Lake area, and for its sophisticated Craftsman-style architecture, which retains a high degree of original integrity. In addition to the typical Craftsman style features such as bracketed eaves and exposed rafters, the house is distinguished by sophisticated wooden detailing such as ridge caps, and finials. Representing the resources held by the timber baron for whom it was constructed, the house is built of materials obtained locally from Trethewey’s mill including the interior fir mouldings, panelled walls, pocket doors and beamed ceilings, specified to be of the highest quality. The buff-coloured brick and crackle-glazed clay tile used in the chimney and fireplaces were made with clay mined on nearby Sumas Mountain and manufactured at the nearby Clayburn Brickworks. The interior is notable also for its intact early character exhibiting advanced technological features such as the original electric light fixtures; kitchen, bathroom and central heating fittings, and built-in vacuum fittings, which reflected the wealth and elite status of the owners in the then rural community.

The Trethewey House is additionally significant as the only remaining building once part of the large mill complex located on the shores of Mill Lake. The house was constructed by James Ogle Trethewey – proprietor of the Abbotsford Lumber Company – for his family. As owners of the mill, the Trethewey family played a large role in the early colonial settlement of Abbotsford, the mill being a major employer in the area and largely behind its deforestation and conversion to farmland. 

The heritage value of the Trethewey House also lies in its interpretive value. Designated as a municipal heritage site in 1983, the house has been restored to its circa 1925 interior and exterior appearance, and is an important cultural site for the interpretation of Abbotsford’s history to the public.

Character Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Trethewey House include its:

  • Location on its original site, with associated landscape elements such as grassed lawns, a mature stand of Douglas fir trees and a Butternut tree at the front of the property.
  • Residential form, scale and massing as expressed by its one and one-half storey plus basement, regular rectangular plan.
  • Cross-gabled roof with gabled roof dormers; cedar shingle roof cladding with ridge caps and small wooden finials; and extended bargeboards with scroll-cut ends.
  • Wood-frame construction with lapped siding (first storey) and coursed shingle siding (upper storey and foundation).
  • Craftsman style features such as: exposed purlins and rafter ends; triangular eave brackets; cobblestone chimneys (one internal and one external), porch railing and pier supports; stuccoed and half-timbered gable peaks; thick, square verandah piers; and bay windows supported by exposed beam braces.
  • Asymmetrical fenestration exhibiting a variety of window types including wooden-sash, double-hung, picture and casement windows often with opaque glass transom lights; and smaller, square, fixed sash windows.
  • Interior elements include original room layout and configuration; fir finishing as found in mouldings, doors, staircase banister, beamed ceilings, 3/4 height panelling, and floors; original electric light fixtures (ceiling and sconces); brick chimneypiece with keystone detail and clay tiled hearths displaying an orange and green crackle glaze; built-in features such as window benches and library bookcases with leaded, glass doors; original bathtub; cast iron kitchen sink; and hardware for built-in vacuum system and central heating.
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Turner House

Otherwise known as Maple Grove Dairy Company, Clayburn Road, Matsqui Prairie

Original LocationCurrent Location

Description of Place

The Place referred to herein is all the property which once fell within the property lines of 33786 Clayburn Road, which is situated on the Clayburn ridge, just outside Clayburn Village. The property included the Maple Grove farm house, a small attic storeyed timber framed board and batten cottage, built by Royal Engineer George Turner in the 1870s, and a large gable-roofed post and beam-framed barn from the same era. Abandoned farm machinery was also associated with the place. Building has since been relocated to Clayburn Village, near the site of the first brickworks.

Heritage Value

Constructed circa 1875, the Maple Grove Farm House is significant as the only surviving house from the first phase of European settlement on Matsqui Prairie. Despite its age, the home retains a high degree of original integrity and is valuable as an example of Craftsman-style architecture. A precise date of the building’s construction can be established as a result of several mentions of it in the Alben Hawkins diaries held in the BC Archives (CA BCA MS-0441). The property’s association with George Turner, a surveyor with the Columbia attachment of the Royal Engineers (1858-63), and one of the area’s earliest European settlers, gives the structure historic significance. Turner, who was an important early surveyor in his own right, and whose work is closely associated with the early development of the Abbotsford area, was granted this land as part of his 160 acre lot for service with the R.E. in April of 1870.

The location of the house is historically significant in that it reflects the settlers’ sensible choice of high land free from the threat of floods known to engulf the prairie, and because Mr. Turner himself surveyed one of Abbotsford’s main arteries to run from the steamboat landing to this property. The building is highly representative of a very early farming property. Between 1886 and 1888 the farm was the home of Maple Grove Dairy Company, one of the area’s first cooperatively run farms, owned by some of the community’s first European settlers, including the Downes and Sims families. Further significance is gained by the property’s association with Alex Cruikshank, who was instrumental in the early development of Matsqui, and his son George, who served as a reeve of Matsqui and as a liberal MP.

Character Defining Elements
  • The gable roofed attic form.
  • The board and batten siding and evidence of hung shingles.
  • The double hung windows with glazing bars.
  • The attic level windows with glazing bars.
  • The front living room, staircase and attic level bedrooms.
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Upper Sumas Elementary School

Vye Road, Upper Sumas


Description of Place

The Upper Sumas Elementary School building is H shaped on plan with a symmetrical aspect to Vye Road characteristic of school buildings of the period. It is a single storied building with a basement level. Vented half timbered gable ended pavilions flank the formerly recessed central entrance, the present projecting lobby being presumably of a later date. The walls are rough cast presumably over timber siding, the raked eaves have vee jointed linings and the basement level windows are early together with at least two of the high light windows surmounting the former central entry. The doors and upper level windows appear generally to be of a later date. There is a large sympathetic addition at the rear with a dominant Dutch gabled roof.

A large gable roofed shed to the south of the main building appears to be contemporary with the school having vented gable ends, rusticated sidings and four cross braced timber sliding doors.

Comparative Analysis

There are no closely comparable school buildings within the Municipality although the massing of the elements of the former Philip Sheffield Elementary School is similar.

Character Defining Elements

The York school district encompassing the area now known as Upper Sumas was established in 1874 and by the following year a building had been erected and classes were being held. The school was closed in 1876, re-opening in 1884. In 1888 a second one room school was built on the Yale Road but it closed in 1910, re-opening in the Sumas Municipal Hall in 1915. Finally, in 1919, a third one room school building was opened close by the Municipal Hall. With the draining of Sumas Lake in 1924 the demand for accommodation increased and was met with further additions but it was not until 1938 that the present building was completed. The gymnasium alongside the school building was added c. 1960.

The Upper Sumas Elementary School is historically significant as the principal centre of elementary education on the Sumas Prairie since 1938 and together with the closed Baptist Mission Church opposite, all that remains of the former centre of Upper Sumas once including the Community Hall, Municipal Hall, stores and post office.

Character Defining Elements

The H shaped form of the school building including:

  • The symmetrical façade.
  • The half timbered and ventilated gable ends.
  • The original timber windows with glazing bars.
  • The shed to the south of the main building.
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Upper Sumas Train Station

Intersection of Lamson and Vye Roads, Sumas Prairie

Original LocationCurrent Location

Description of Place

The building referred to herein is all the train station which currently located within the Trethewey House Heritage Site of 2313 Ware Street, Abbotsford, BC., which is situated on Mill Lake. The asset includes a small attic rectangular shiplap building, built by the British Columbia Electric Railway in 1910.

Heritage Value

The station’s heritage value lies in its direct association with the BCER in its heyday. The style, shape and colour of the asset is typical for all the buildings associated with the BCER. Historically, there was one such station for each mile of line through what is now included in the City of Abbotsford, along with similar buildings (e.g. telephone switch booths). The station’s high level of integrity, along with its rarity as being one of the few remaining buildings of its kind, comparing with other BCER shelters along the once very significant Chilliwack line, adds to its heritage value. The shelter is also aesthetically significant as a rare surviving timber building of the BC Electric era, demonstrating an architectural treatment, complete with the shingled siding and roofing, characteristic of the company’s work along the interurban line throughout the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, which has now almost completely disappeared.

Character Defining Elements
  • The exterior and interior of the building is painted Rookwood red, all except for the roof, the corner boards and the trims around the door and windows. In this area, this colour is referred to simply as “BCER red” because of its strong association with the BCER.
  • The upper ¾ (approximately) of the walls are constructed using painted cedar shingles and the lower section (68.5 cm) is constructed with shiplap. The two sections are divided by a thin wooden trim, or stringcourse (much in the same way one would use a dado rail over skirting board in the interior of a building, the skirting board in this case being the shiplap), painted the same red colour as the rest of the building. This style is also very typical of the BCER.
  • A wooden post with a radial wave reflector style gooseneck exterior light attached to it runs up the front of the building and protrudes through the roof just above the fuse box on the eastern wall. This shows that the station once was equipped with electrical wiring and lights – a rarity for the area in 1910.
  • The hip roof is constructed using unpainted cedar shingles on tar paper. The ridge and hips are covered with a narrow strip of steel trim. The roof has white metal gutters of a modern make and design. The roof projects from the walls of the building and creates a slight overhang of about 34 cm. The roof has a 30° pitch, and makes the building recognizable as a BCER construction.
  • The floor is a simple, unstained plank construction, where the planks have been butted up against each other. A new concrete foundation was added in 2022 to protect the structural integrity of the building, which originally did not have a foundation and was suffering from extensive dry rot as a result.
  • The interior four walls are covered with vertical shiplap painted in the same red shade as the exterior. The north wall has one window, boarded up circa 1932 and restored in 2022, with four openings for the counterweights for the original weighted window. There is a low bench supported by brackets and attached to the wall running along the length of this wall. The west wall is entirely plain tongue and groove, save for the bench seat, which continues on from the north wall and the full length of this wall as well. The south wall has two now covered up openings, one where a window must once have been, and one for an entrance (the size of a skinny door). 
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Wade's Landing

Cox Road, Sumas Mountain


Description of Place

Whilst the actual site of Wade’s Landing is unconfirmed, the place identified with Wade’s Landing is situated beyond the end of Cox Road on the Fraser River bank. It is separated from a small area of cleared land on the south side of the CN railway across which runs a formation that could have been part of the wagon road serving the landing. The present access road to the dwelling nearby may also follow the alignment of the original Wade’s Trail. The landing itself consists of ten visible timber piles arranged in three rows running out into the river.

Comparative Analysis

In spite of the many years past since the abandonment of the Fraser River landings, several sites can be discerned especially during low water when the piles emerge above water level. Examples on the south bank of the river in the Municipality include the Mount Lehman Landing and the extant landing piles at the Mission Bridge. To the west beyond the Municipal boundary, the Glen Valley landing complete with sunken hulk is significant.

Heritage Value

Prior to the opening of rail routes through the Fraser Valley, the area was served by a network of trails leading to landings on the Fraser River. Within the Municipality, the Boundary Commission Trail, surveyed by the Royal Engineers, crossed the US border near the present day customs office south of Aldergrove and ran north-east to present day Matsqui Village opposite the site of the Mission township. The Whatcom Trail crossed the US border near Huntingdon skirting the southern base of Sumas Mountain on its way to the Fraser River at its junction with the Sumas River. Wade’s Trail crossed over Sumas Mountain joining the Whatcom Trail west of Sumas Lake. The maps in Riggin’s The Heart of the Fraser Valley record that both the Boundary Commission and Whatcom Trails pre-date Wade’s which was in existence “before 1886”.

Wade’s Trail provided a link with Straiton and Kilgard, Alan Keeping noting that the materials for the extant school building at Straiton were brought up from the river over this trail. It remained in use well into the twentieth century as a means of communication, eventually being replaced by the Upper Sumas Mountain Road. It is understood that the era of the paddlewheel riverboats concluded in 1928, the CPR’s Beaver having been tied up as early as 1913.

The site of Wade’s Landing which is presumed to be the place described above is historically significant for its capacity to identify with the known place of that name which was of strategic importance to the early development of Straiton, Kilgard and beyond.

Character Defining Elements
  • The timber piles
  • The adjacent cleared land including the presumed evidence of the wagon road formation.