Mission sits on a south-facing slope of the Coast Mountains overlooking the lush Fraser River Valley and River. Mission is situated on Scenic Highway 7 between Maple Ridge and Agassiz, about 75 km east of Vancouver. Mission has a variety off hillsides and gullies which create natural neighbourhood boundaries and provide spectacular views. The climate is warm & tropical in the summer, and mild & wet in the winter, with flowers blooming throughout the year.
The town’s name has changed over the years. “St. Mary’s Mission” was registered in 1884, though five years later the railway called it “Mission Junction”, though in 1891, it became “Mission City.” When it incorporated in 1922, the townsite became the “Village of Mission”. In 1957, the Village became the “Town of Mission” and in 1969, the town and the municipality amalgamated to become the “District of Mission.”
In 1861, Father Fouquet, a young Oblate Priest from France, chose the site for St. Mary’s Indian Residential School just east of the present downtown core of Mission. The mission’s grist mill and post office became a community gathering centre. Sternwheelers worked the Fraser until the turn of the century, able to maneuver in very shallow water (by 1920, though, they were used mainly for pleasure excursions). When the Canadian Pacific Railway came in 1883, the Oblates rebuilt their school on the plateau above the original site. When the Fraser River bridge was built in 1891, Mission was connected to communities on the south shore. Silverdale was settled by mostly Italian settlers, Silverhill by Swedish, while Hatzic Prairie was a mostly French-speaking settlers.
In 1891, real estate broker James Welton Horne, foresaw a boomtown, purchased a large tract of land by the bridge and railway line, cleared it, and surveyed streets for a townsite, even building stores, offices, and a hotel for prospective buyers. The area from the Stave River to Hatzic Lake was incorporated in 1892 as the Municipality of Mission (the year of the Great Flood). The area’s farms were ideal for fruits and vegetables and everyone, and in 1895, the area had its first annual Agricultural Fair. The forests provided railway ties, hydro poles, shakes and shingles. The area’s first newspaper, the Mission City News began publishing in 1893. Canada’s first and only train robbery took place in Mission in 1904.
In 1910 the fast-growing town got a new train station, and in 1912, the Stave Falls Dam and electric plant brought industrialization to the area. Mission became the centre of the area’s fruit packing and canning operations. Telephone service began in 1907 with a line running from Mission to Hatzic, was taken over by B.C. Telephone in 1929. In 1910, the first automobile arrived in Mission, and by 1916 the Dewdney Trunk had reached Deroche. In 1927, the CPR bridge over the Fraser was planked for car traffic, eliminating long ferry waits, and in 1929 Mission’s Main Street (now First Avenue) was paved. By 1930, the Lougheed highway connected all communities on the North Bank of the Fraser.
In 1948 the Fraser River broke through the dykes flooding the entire valley and paralyzing the community until the water subsided. That same year the Municipal Forest Reserve was organized and a forestry program was started in the schools. Westminster Abbey was built on the hill overlooking Hatzic in 1954.
Xá:ytem / Hatzic Rock National Historic Site of Canada
35087 Lougheed Highway, Mission, British Columbia, V2V, Canada
(Lougheed Hwy. five minutes east of Mission.)0
Includes the oldest dwelling yet found in B.C. The Hatzic Rock (Xa:tem) site, which includes a large boulder left by glaciers centuries ago, is situated on 18 acres on what was once the bank of the Fraser River. The site depicts the Sto:Io story of three chiefs who challenged the Creator and were turned into stone. In 1991 as land around the boulder was being cleared for housing, a local archaeologist discovered thousands of artifacts, including pebble tools and flakes associated with the Mission 6,000 to 3,000 years ago. Further excavation and carbon dating has put the site at nearly 9,000 years old, and ithe site was acquired by the provincial government. The Xa:tem Longhouse interpretive centre was erected three years ago as the community and the Sto:lo people work together to preserve the site as a spiritual site and a window on an aboriginal culture. Admission: $$
Inch Creek Fish Hatchery
38620 Bell Rd, Dewdney, BC V0M 1H0
Hatchery staff are always happy to show visitors through the facility. Of particular interest are the Canadian-spawned sturgeon. Several adult sturgeon measuring up to 7-1/2 feet long can be seen swimming in a semi-natural environment. Hours: 9 am to 3pm 7 days a week. Admission: Free. Groups require reservations. Bell Rd in Dewdney; 826-026
Kilby Historic Store and Farm
215 Kilby Rd, Harrison Mills, BC V0M 1L0
(Just off Lougheed Hwy. east of the Harrison River)
The old general store has been restored to its 1920s heyday. Outbuildings show farm life.
Hours: 10 am to 5 pm all year round. Admission: $$, Children free.
33201 2nd Ave, Mission, BC V2V 1J9
(604) 826-1011, Fax: 604-826-1017
The museum features “Rails, Robbers and Rivers,” with information about the Canadian Pacific Railway, Bill Miner, and the Fraser River. Exhibits focus on the Sto:lo First Nation, Mission’s Chinatown, the Great Land Sale, farming, pioneering and forestry. The 1907 building was a prefabricated structure for the Bank of Commerce by BC Mill’s Company. Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 4 pm, Wednesdays, 11 am to 4 pm. Group tours are welcome by appointment.
Norma Kenney House
Fraser River Heritage Park, 7494 Mary Street, Mision
A small collection of woodworking tools and artifacts from the original Grotto and native residential school. Hours: Daytime during summer; posted hours other seasons. Admission: Free.
Restored Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
Fraser River Heritage Park, 7494 Mary Street, Mision
After an absence of more than 30 years a grotto stands sentinel over the Mission and it will be the focus of a pilgrimage this summer. The annual pilgrimage to the site of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Heritage Park dates back to 1892 when missionaries from the Oblates of mary Immaculate constructed the six-sided building. Revived in the late 1980s by St. Joseph’s Catholic church as many as 1,100 people are expected mid-August.
Ruskin Spawning Channel
East side of the Stave River, access of Hayward St.
Immediately below the Ruskin Dam, a spawning channel provides fertile gravel for returning salmon each fall. A small picnic area overlooks the channel and a bridge lets you watch the salmon. Hours: Dawn to disk, Admission: free
Trout Creek Farm
31474 Townshipline Ave, Mission, BC V4S 1G4
Trout Creek Farm boasts two deep ponds stocked with 12-14″ trout. Rod, bait and fish cleaning are free – you pay by the inch. There is also a picnic/playground area.Hours: 9am to dusk, daily March 1-October 31. Admission $.
Wagon World Museum
35717 Lougheed Hwy., just east of Shook Rd. Look for large red bails atop brick gate posts.
Laszlo Tamas has crafted exact replicas of many different wagons and buildings in a barn on his farm. Includes a history of wheeled transportation, and photos of full-size wagons and coaches he has built. Where: Hours: daytime. Admission: by donation.
34224 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Mission, BC V2V 6Y5
(just east of downtown Mission)
The Benedictine Monastery at Westminster Abbey has a private archives of religious documents and ancient books. Westminster Abbey, built in 1982. The church is 162 feet long by 110 feet wide at the transepts and contains 64 stained-glass windows. The rainbow-coloured 1.5 inch thick pieces of glass make up windows that stand 22 feet high around the perimeter of the church. A dome of coloured glass rises 60 feet above the altar. In the early days of Mission, the Monks here have carved out an almost self-sufficient lifestyle – raising cows, chickens and pigs as well as tending crops. Visits to their Benedictine monastery are welcome each Sunday from 2pm – 4pm and weekdays from 1:30 pm – 4 pm. Mass is sung at 10 am on Sunday and 6:30 am weekdays.
Here are the more popular parks in Lytton, from north to south (see other area parks):
Follow the signs north on Stave Lake St.
Park bench on rock bluff over-looking the Fraser river and Hatzic bench. This site is within the grounds that are the home of the Benedictine monks at Westminster Abbey. Visitors welcome, but be sensitive that it is private property.
Located near the end of Sylvester Road, featuring a spectacular waterfall
Fraser River Heritage Park
From Scenic Highway 7, follow Stave Lake Street north a few blocks, right (east) onto 5th Avenue
The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, with a six sided cupola with a silver dome crowned by a white cross, dominates the park, which has wonderful vistas of the Valley overlooking Matsqui Prairie. The O.M.I. Cemetery was dedicated by the Oblates before 1870, contains graves of many of the early Oblate missionaries. Steady breezes and open fields make this a favorite kite-flying area. Park open 7 days a week, 8 am to dusk. River Restaurant open: Monday to Friday, 11 am to 2 pm.
Cherry Ave opposite Albert McMahon School
This park offers picnic tables, horseshoe pits, sand volleyball court, and a sledding hill.
Hayward Lake Recreation Site
Wilson St. in Ruskin; right on Dewdney Trunk Rd
One of the best spots around the Mission, with a picnic area, beach, and pedestrian trails. Loads of wild blackberries in season. Sean Pen and Robert DeNiro used the gazebo in “We’re No Angels”.
Hwy 7 east of Mission to Sylvester Road, right and then 6.6 km, across CPR tracks and left on McKamie Road to first fork. Continue to dyke and drive 2.6 km from main highway to gate-barrier.
Enjoyable view towards Golden Ears and Mount Robie Reid. Dyke and river trail, deal for horseback riding, with round trip distance of 12 km-allow 3.5 hours walking/hiking.
Taulbut St. and 7th Ave
Jungle gym for the kids. Washrooms. Skateboard park. Ball diamonds. Basketball court.
Matsqui Trail Regional Park
Hwy 11, right at Harris Rd (over the Mission Bridge), right at Riverside St.
Gladwin Pond is worth the 15 minute walk west
Mission Waterfront Park
Lots of river activity to watch, and a small craft harbour. Magnificent view of Mt. Baker and Mt. Cheam from picnic area. Warning: riverbank is steep and can be treacherous.
Mission Sports Park
east end of Israel Ave, off Nelson St.
Major complex of sports fields, concessions open during organized games.
Pretty park located on the shores of Hatzic Lake
Rolley Lake Provincial Park
Bell St. north of Dewdney Trunk Rd
Picnic site. Tables, toilets, and drinking water.
Ruskin Dam Recreation Site
Off Wilson St. in Ruskin
Picnic area, spawning channel, foot paths to base of Ruskin dam. Pit toilets.
Silver Creek Park
Dewdney Trunk Rd., across from the Mission Rod and Gun Club
Mill Pond is pretty, but the low-lying ground is often damp. There is often a concession van at the paved parking lot.
Stave Lake Recreation Area
On the Dewdney Trunk Road between Mission and Maple Ridge.
From Mission take Stave Lake Street north.
The Stave River is named for the lumber ideally suited for barrel staves, used for the transport and storage of salmon by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Stave Falls dam and generating facilities were completed in 1921, creating the Lake. Activitieis include hiking, swimming, canoeing, boating (boat launch ramp & seasonal public wharf), picnicking, and fishing. Watch for unstable weather conditions and fluctuating water levels. Open year-round during daylight hours.
280th to 112th to Graham St.
Playground, barbecue pit, concession, pedal boat rentals available at times, tables, pit toilets, walking trails, sandy beach, good swimming. No power boats.