Looking for adventure? The Fraser Valley offers it in spades just an hour or so east of Vancouver.
The Valley, as locals lovingly call it, offers more than cows and cornfields. Although the cows and the corn are an important part of its rich agricultural roots, visitors find so much more in the thriving cities in the country.
Where to start? If trekking in from the Greater Vancouver area, don't miss a pit stop at Fort Langley. This historical village takes you back in time to the 1830s before Vancouver or Victoria were even on the map.
Soak in the rich history of British Columbia while strolling through the heritage community hall or explore a 1920s caboose at the CN Station before trying on period clothing and panning for gold at the Hudson's Bay Company trading post. They said there was real gold in the dark silt sliding around my pan, but I didn’t strike it rich so they may have been pulling my leg. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a nugget to start your journey with a bang.
After Fort Langley, head west to Abbotsford and Canada’s first Eco-dairy opening early June. Truly, the Valley does offer more than cows, but this is not your average farm. “Eco-dairy” is a forward thinking term used to describe an environmentally considerate approach to farming. The cows and chickens are free range. In fact, resident cows here choose when they wish to be milked by the robotic milking machine: a machine that uses less water and energy than a typical milking apparatus.
The “green” ingenuity does not end there. Canada’s first manure-to-gas converter, which will create the energy to power lights and create heat, will be installed in July.
Bakerview Eco-dairy offers a glimpse into a day in the life of a cow. Get up close and personal in the petting zoo, where goats graze on the roof of the barn, chickens roam free and rainwater is collected and used to nurture the farm. Be sure to pick up some natural local produce and products from the market before you continue your journey.
From there, head 15 minutes east to Chilliwack. Known as “The Great Outside,” this thriving city nestled between the Fraser and Vedder rivers is postcard perfect and offers a multitude of outdoor activities for every personality. If you love peace and serenity, get back to nature at the Blue Heron Nature Reserve. This 325-acre site sits next to the Vedder River and is home to more than 200 great blue heron nests, as well as painted turtles, bald eagles and the Salish sucker.
Move from the birds to the bees just a few blocks away at Chilliwack River Natural Honey. Wake up your tastebuds with natural, unpasteurized honey and fresh bee pollen. Honey isn’t just honey here: raspberry, blueberry, wildflower, blackberry and buckwheat are just some of the flavours du jour. Other bee-made products include pure beeswax candles, rolled, dipped and poured by hand, plus all-natural bath and beauty products.
After you soothe your senses in Chilliwack’s peaceful nature and visit the local bees, wrap up the remainder of the day visiting historic downtown. The Downtown Business Improvement Association works tirelessly to attract unique and trendy businesses to this community’s core. The shopping experience draws tourists from far and wide with an intriguing blend of boutiques, specialty stores, art galleries, eateries and outdoor markets.
A popular venue every Friday night in July and August is The Party in the Park. Come out for a night of music, entertainment and, oh yes, shopping, under the canopy of the summer evening sky in the beautifully landscaped Central Community Park. Spread out a blanket on the cool green grass, lie back and relax.
The Fraser Valley offers countless opportunities to explore, so stay the night and start the adventure again in the morning!
Where to go:
BC Farm Machinery & Agricultural Museum
9131 King Street
Fort Langley Community Hall
Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada
23433 Mavis Ave, PO Box 129
1356 Sumas Way, Abbotsford
Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve
5200 Sumas Prairie Road
Chilliwack River Valley Natural Honey Ltd.
43476 Adams Road
Party in the Park (Every Friday July and August)
52892 Bunker Rd., Rosedale
Where to Stay:
Chilliwack Comfort Inn
45405 Luckakuck Way
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