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Yarrow, British Columbia

Edited by
Esther Epp Harder, Edwin Lenzmann, and Elmer Wiens

A Chronology of Yarrow, B.C.
by Esther Epp Harder

1808 The explorer, Simon Fraser, lands at what became Minto Landing, located at the end of Young Road North, Chilliwack.
1858 The main route between Fort Langley and Hope before 1858 was a Hudson Bay Company Brigade Trail, that later became part of the Telegraph Trail; the Old Wagon Trail and Majuba Hill Road are part of this route; on August 2, 1858, the Crown Colony of British Columbia receives royal assent.
1861 There were approximately 300 Euro-Canadians in the entire Fraser Valley.
1862 - 1870's Volkert Vedder, his sons Albert and Adam (the postmaster at Sardis), pre-empt 1,200 acres of land, with the southeast corner touching the base of Majuba Hill extending to the shoreline of Sumas Lake.
1865 The longest trail in the Lower Fraser Valley was the one required for the Collin's Overland Telegraph Project; it followed existing trails wherever possible and became known as "Telegraph Trail"; settlement began along some of the routes; the Collins Overland Telegraph Line provided Chilliwack its first communication with the outside world.
1871 British Columbia joins the Confederation of Canada as its sixth province.
1873 The "Chilliwhack" Municipality is incorporated.
1875 Owing to flood conditions, each home was equipped with a canoe.
1885 The Canadian Pacific Railway, Canada's first transcontinental railway, is completed joining British Columbia by rail to the rest of Canada.
1891 The Hulbert Hop yards is established, the first hop farm in the Fraser Valley.
1894 The great flood turns the Vedder River into the main channel draining the Chilliwack River into Sumas Lake; the most disastrous flood in the Valley occurred; with no protection against the rising waters of the Fraser River, the Valley was completely inundated and the crops destroyed.
1895 - 1896 George and Elizbeth Bellerose occupy their Lake Ridge home; William & Mary Jane Chadsey build their new home on Majuba Hill.
1900 William Chadsey opens the Majuba Hill Post Office in his home at the Majuba Hill and Robinson Road's intersection.
1902 William Chadsey is awarded a contract to haul mail, a distance of eight and one half miles, twice weekly between Majuba Hill and Sardis at a rate of $120 per year.
1903 The first Majuba Hill School opens with Miss M.S. Archibald as teacher.
1905 Joseph & Margaret Knox purchase 1,200 acres of land from Volkert Vedder and his sons.
1906 Lockhart Chadsey becomes the postmaster of the Majuba Hill Post Office.
1908 The Yale Westminster Wagon Road is upgraded to an overland highway, now known as Yale Road; Chauncey Eckert purchases 1,000 acres of land from Joseph Knox.
1910 The B.C. Electric Railway line from New Westminster to Chiliwack is completed when Premier Richard McBride drives the last spike in Chilliwack; one of the last stations on the interurban line finished is called Yarrow, whose name was suggested by Joseph Knox for the bitter weed with yellow flowers that grows in abundance in the area; Vancouver—Chilliwack service consists of "two passenger trains and one milk train in each direction daily" (Ewert 89); land values in Yarrow double; James Hounsome succeeds Lockhart Chadsey as Postmaster, with the Post Office located across the road from Chadseys (Coutts 109-110).
1912 James Hounsome moves the Majuba Hill Post Office to his new house on the north side of Yarrow Station.
1913 Joseph Knox opens the first general store in Yarrow; the Government of British Columbia announces its decision to drain Sumas Lake (the Sinclair Plan).
1914 The name of the Majuba Hill Post Office is changed to the Yarrow Post Office on the 1st of January.
1917 The Fraser Valley Milk Producers' Association is created; the Bolshevik Revolution breaks out across Russia, leading to civil war, chaos and creation of the Soviet Union, with dire circumstances for many Mennonites in the new USSR.
1920 William (Bill) and Ella Siddall open their General Store next to Yarrow Station at Wilson Road's junction with Yale Road.
1920 - 1924 Sumas Lake Reclamation project: Sumas Lake is drained and the Vedder River is diverted to the Vedder Canal, which drains into the Fraser River near Barrowtown.
1923 The post revolution emigration of Mennonites from the Soviet Union begins, continuing until 1930, although few people were able to leave in 1927 and 1928.
1926 The British Columbia Provincial Government offers the land reclaimed from Sumas Lake (previously Crown land) for sale; the hop harvest this year is one of the best; the valley hop industry is growing with 1,000 acres in crop.
1927 In December, John Bargen and a friend visit the Yarrow area in search of farming acreage and decide to purchase land; Ella Siddall succeeds James Hounsome as postmistress; Helen and Henry Ord occupy their Yarrow residence on Majuba Hill.
1928 In February, the first Mennonite families arrive in Yarrow and receive temporary housing on Majuba Hill; first official Mennonite church service is held on Good Friday (April); the first child born to a Mennonite settler (July 28) is also the first member of the group to die (August 2); first schoolhouse for the new settlers is built on Central Road, at the north east corner of what is now Yarrow Park (two years later, a second schoolhouse virtually identical to the first, and adjacent to it is added).
1929 Johann Derksen opens his store, the first Mennonite business establishment in Yarrow; Mennonite Brethren settlers formally organize as a congregation; Carl Wilson is appointed to the small staff of the Yarrow Elementary School and becomes the principal; the German Religious School is begun.
1930 The Mennonite Brethren build their first church; Elim Bible School is founded; the Yarrow United Mennonite parishioners hold church services in the Yarrow Elementary School, led by Elder Nicolai Bahnmann and John Braun; the Yarrow community purchases 200 acres from the Meilicke brothers for the purpose of a common pasture.
1930s First raspberries are planted at the Aron Rempel farm on Dyke Road.
1931 The Yarrow Cemetery is dedicated.
1934 Yarrow negotiates its own community-wide health plan.
1935 Yarrow and Sumas Prairie suffer major flood damage; a small consumers' association, Yarrow's first economic co-operative body, is organized.
1936 Susie Giesbrecht is the first student of Mennonite settlers in Yarrow to graduate from grade 12 at Chilliwack High School.
1937 First telephones are installed in Yarrow; the new Yarrow Elementary School building on the corner of Central Road and Second Street is completed, and the school on Majuba Hill closes.
1938 Yarrow United Mennonite congregation completes the construction of its Church on Eckert Road; Johann Julius Klassen is ordained, and concurrently becomes the resident minister; thankful Mennonites mark 10th anniversary of settlement in Yarrow; the Mennonite Brethren congregation builds a new church that seats 1200 people; the consumers' association and a new producers' co-operative merge to form the Yarrow Growers' Co-operative Union; the first Kindergarten, founded by Peter & Anna Loewen and Aron & Olga Rempel opens in the facilities at the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church.
1939 On September 3, Neville Chamberlain informs his parliament that Britain is at war with Germany; a few days later, Canada declares war on Germany.
1941 Douglas Rexford is the first soldier from Yarrow to be killed overseas in the Second World War.
1944 Winfield Fretz's scholarly study of new Mennonite communities, including Yarrow, is the first of its kind to appear in print; Hillcrest United Church (Majuba Hill) is dissolved; Yarrow Waterworks is chartered by the Government of British Columbia, two years after it organized informally; "Zoar" senior citizens residence is opened by the Isbrandt Riesen family; Susie Brucks, Yarrow's first foreign missionary, departs for the Belgian Congo in Africa
1945 The Elim Bible School is destroyed by fire, and the Mennonite Brethren Church replaces it with a larger building; Sharon Mennonite Collegiate Institute (high school) begins classes in temporary quarters (two years later the school moves into its new building on Wilson Road, and in 1949 the school closes for economic reasons).
1946 Central and Eckert Roads are paved, and several other streets are paved a few years later; Frieda Nightingale (Nachtigal) joins the staff of Yarrow Elementary School—the first Mennonite teacher appointed to this public school.
1948 The Fraser River floods much of the Upper Fraser Valley; the first survey of flood damage reveals two thousand homes flooded, but Yarrow only suffers minor damage; concrete sidewalks are built along Central Road and Wilson Roads; the berry market's collapse reverberates throughout the community of Yarrow; William Siddall builds a new post office on Yarrow 's Central Road.
1949 Reverend John A. Harder, Yarrow's longest serving (1931-49) Mennonite Brethren Church pastor, resigns in July as leading minister of the MB congregation.
1950 Reverend Herman Lenzmann is elected Pastor of the Yarrow MB Church in January; assets of the Yarrow Growers' Co-operative Union are sold, and the contents of the Co-op store auctioned; Sun-Ripe Fruit Packers firm is incorporated; Walter Ferguson succeeds Carl Wilson as Principal of the Yarrow Elementary School.
1950 The B.C. Electric Railway Company terminates its interurban passenger trains on the Vancouver—Chilliwack line on September 30th. The line had sixty-one stations along its 76.3 miles of track, with fares of $2.10 one way, and $3.85 return. The company's Pacific Stage Lines provides bus passenger services instead (Ewert 266-68).
1951 An association of parents starts a small new Mennonite High School, the Sharon Mennonite Collegiate.
1952 The Chilliwack School District purchases the building and grounds of the Sharon Mennonite Collegiate Institute to be used as Yarrow's new Elementary and Junior High School; Ella Siddall retires as Yarrow's Postmistress; John Kehler takes over as Yarrow's Postmaster with Myrtle Kehler as his assistant.
1953 The Yarrow Elementary and Junior High School on Wilson Road begins classes in September, with Walter Ferguson as Principal.
1954 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. The Vedder Canal Hosts the Rowing Events.
1955 The Chilliwhack Township Council dedicates the two-acre public school site in downtown Yarrow for park purposes.
1956 Elim Bible School ceases operations.
1957 The Mennonite Brethren congregation decides that if visiting speakers are more fluent in English than German, they should feel free to speak in English.
1958 Because of the school's financial difficulties, the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church assumes responsibility for operating the Sharon Mennonite Collegiate (during the next decade the school is downsized and in 1969, it closes).
1958 The Alliance Church commences services in its beautiful, new sanctuary on Central Road, with Reverend Foster, Minister; the Mennonite Brethren Church begins to offer one English and one German sermon every Sunday.
1955 - 1959 John I. Haas Hop Yards, the only remaining hop yards in the Upper Fraser Valley, makes the transition to machine picking.
1959 The women of the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church receive the right to vote; offices of the Sun-Ripe Fruit Packers (now Clearbrook Frozen Foods) are moved to Clearbrook (Abbotsford), B.C.; Cascades (Ocean Spray) Cannery and Cold Storage on Eckert Road burns down on February 21st.
1964 The C.C. Funk family moves its mill operation to Clearbrook (Abbotsford), B.C.
1966 Lesley Tarmar succeeds Walter Ferguson as Principal of the Yarrow Elementary School; The Yarrow Junior High School ceases operations; students are bussed to High Schools in Sardis and Chilliwack.
1969 The Sharon Mennonite Collegiate ceases its operations on Stewart Road; Yarrow students can exercise their option to attend the Mennonite Educational Institute in Clearbrook (Abbotsford), B.C.
1976 Agatha Klassen publishes Yarrow: A Portrait in Mosaic.
1982 The Yarrow Junior High School graduating classes of 1960, 1961, and 1962 hold their 20th Anniversary Junior High School Reunion.
1994 The Yarrow Elementary and Junior High School holds its 40th Anniversary Reunion.
2002 Yarrow Research Committee (YRC) publishes two volumes: Yarrow British Columbia: Mennonite Promise, Before We Were the Land's, and Village of Unsettled Yearnings, edited by Leonard Neufeldt.
2003 Yarrow Research Committee with University College of the Fraser Valley (UCFV) now University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) sponsor the First Nations and First Settlers in the Fraser Valley (1890-1960), at the UCFV Abbotsford Campus June 5-7, followed by a 75th Anniversary of Mennonites in Yarrow B.C. celebration banquet and program at the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church on June 8th.
2004 Yarrow Research Committee (YRC) publishes First Nations and First Settlers in the Fraser Valley (1890-1960), edited by Harvey Neufeldt, Ruth Derksen Siemens and Robert Martens.
2009 On February 1st, the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church celebrates its 80th Anniversary;   Elmer Wiens, Edwin Lenzmann and Esther Epp Harder launch the "Yarrow's Pioneers and Settlers" web site at


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