With only a few days left to the month-long nation-wide initiative of Culture Days, On This Spot is featuring the British Columbian city of Abbotsford today. We have two self-guided historical walking tours in this city, and both are available free online and through the On This Spot app. This weekend, get out and explore your local community!
Abbotsford is a sprawling municipality on the banks of the Fraser River. Home to the Sto:lo First Nation for thousands of years, the historic downtown was first laid out by European settlers in 1891 alongside the Old Yale Road, a track used by gold-seekers to reach the Interior. Abbotsford has since grown into a large city, with many industries, rich farmland, and a young population.
Abbotsford is made up of a number of different communities outside the historic downtown, notably Matsqui Village, a Scandinavian farming settlement that is featured in our first walking tour. Part of the traditional territory of the Matsqui First Nation, the land under Matsqui Village was not settled by the British immigrants who colonized vast swaths of the Lower Mainland but by a collection of settlers from Scandinavia. Their rich culture, religion, and traditions have left a subtle but undeniable mark. The village today has changed little from its early days as a pioneer town, and many of the buildings retain their rustic, turn-of-the-century charm. In this tour, we will wander through the village of Matsqui, using its historic buildings and landscapes to discover the roots of this frontier village, which is equal parts Canadian west coast, American midwest, and Northern European.
Our second tour takes app users around Abbotsford’s historic downtown, which has undergone monumental changes over the last 130 years. Over the course of this tour, we will see how the community has evolved, from a frontier railway town to a regenerated shopping area with historic shopfronts. This tour starts on Essendene Avenue overlooking the historic townsite. Then we will proceed through the community, stopping by various historic buildings and learning about many of the people, events, and ideas that have shaped this community.