What to See & Do in the Fraser Valley?
The Lower Mainland portion of the Fraser Valley is Canada’s year-round flower growing region, rivalling Holland. It is surrounded to the North, the South, and to the East with rugged mountains, lakes, and recreation. North of Hope, you enter the Fraser Canyon, with the trans-continental railroad on one cliff-face, and the Trans-Canada Highway on the other (with Hell’s Gate offering great views of both), and north east of Hope is the wide-open Coquihalla ranching country.
The Fraser Valley, also called “the Lower Mainland” extends east of Vancouver to Hope, and then outwards to the many smaller communities along the Trans-Canada (#1), the Coquihalla (#8) and the Crowsnest (#3) Highways. The western boundary of this area is generally conceded to be Langley. The larger communities south of the Fraser are clustered along the Trans-Canada Highway and Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
The communities north of the Fraser are clustered along the Lougheed Highway (#7) and include Pitt Meadows & Maple Ridge, Mission, and Harrison Hot Springs. At the east end of the Lower Mainland is Hope, which is wehre the #7, #3, and #8 all meet with the scenic Manning Provincial Park to its east.
On the north-bound route of the Fraser, are the communities of Hell’s Gate, Boston Bar, and Lytton. The Fraser Valley has a population of about 236,000. The major industries in the Fraser Valley reflect that of the whole province. Forestry, agriculture and trade are the top job-creating industries, followed by tourism.
Vancouver was named for Captain George Vancouver, who in 1792, fourteen years after sailing here under Captain Cook, returned to the area in 1792, and spent the next two years exploring the area in search of the western end of the “Northwest Passage”.
The Fraser River is named for Simon Fraser, the first white man to paddle the river to the sea in 1808. He thought he was descending the Columbia River until the wild river made its abrupt westward turn at Hope (too far north to be the Columbia). The area boomed the gold rush of the 1850s, which brought many settlers into the region. This eventually pushed British Columbia to join Canadian confederation, and promoted the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.
Daytime temperatures and night-time temperatures are fairly consistent because of the moderating influence of the sea. Vancouver is sheltered from the worst of Pacific Ocean weather systems by Vancouver Island. In the summer time, you can generally expect hot and sunny weather, with only occasional precipitation. In the fall, winter, and spring time, expect rain more often than not…after all, there’s a reason the grass and tree-leaves are green year-round.
Always carry an umbrella with you in case of rain. Vancouver gets 54 cm ( 21 inches) of snow each winter and a total of 1167 millimetres (46 inches) of precipitation per year. The city has 164 wet days (where it rains at least part of the day), mostly in the non-summer months (any months whose name contains the letter “r” has rain).
This area has basically three zones: The “Lower Mainland”, the more densely populated area between Hope and Vancouver, The “Upper Fraser” between Hope and Lytton, which flows through a canyon with both the Trans-Canada Highway and the two trans-continental rail lines hugging the canyon walls, and then the Thompson River which runs east from Lytton toward Kamloops.
Fraser Valley Communities
For those doing a round trip, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND going one way along the #1 down the Fraser Canyon, and the return route via Highway #3 and #97 thorugh the fruit and wine country of the Okanagan.
Only those in a hurry, or who have already done the Fraser Canyon and the Okanagan, should zip along the much faster #5 Coquihalla Route between Hope, BC and Kamloops BC (the speed limit for most of the route –in summer– is 120 km/h) which enables traffic between Calgary and Vancouver in a 12 hours driving day (traffic permitting)