The Streets of Chilliwack – Part 4

Here is the next segment of The Streets of Chilliwack; today the focus is on an early pioneer family that settled in the Yarrow area.

Volkert Vedder

photo courtesy of BC Gold Rush Press

An early Chilliwack settler, Volkert Vedder was born in 1808 in Schenectady, New York – a Dutch colonial settlement. Shortly after his wife died in 1852 (at the age of 38), the widower left the state of New York with his three sons and headed west to California, like thousands of other fortune-seekers, in search of gold. After several years in California, Vedder and his two sons, Adam and Albert (son John died in California) headed north in 1858 as word spread of another gold strike north of the US border.

Volkert Vedder returned from the Cariboo around 1860 to settle in Chilliwack, pre-empting (or claiming for agricultural purposes) 160 acres of land in what would become Yarrow. The size of his land would later increase to over 1500 acres when Adam and Albert ended their stay in the Cariboo in 1868 – joining their father in Chilliwack. Vedder’s land was surrounded by a mountain now bearing his name. Other Chilliwack locations named after the pioneer family include Vedder Road, Vedder Crossing and Vedder Canal.

Volkert’s son Adam – born in 1833 – was a young man of twenty six when he first arrived in B.C. via California with his brother and father. Adam worked in the Cariboo during the 1858 gold rush as a butcher, a builder as well as operating a freight business before settling in the Chilliwack area during 1868 to farm, becoming a well-known dairy farmer.

P155 AS VedderAdam Vedder

Adam Vedder served the community in several major ways – he served as warden of the Township of Chilliw(h)ack, was appointed the first postmaster for the village of Sardis (named by Vedder after one of the seven churches in the book of Revelation) and served as a Liberal MLA in Victoria in 1894. The post office was located in his home, where the intersection of Knight and Vedder Road is today.

P1414 Adam Vedder House

Adam Vedder’s House

Volkert Vedder died in Sardis on January 31, 1898 in his 90th year at Adam’s house in Sardis. Son Albert died on January 17, 1876 at the age of 40 and Adam Vedder lived until August 19, 1905 when he passed in his 72nd year.



• Pyjamas were first worn by men, in the form of nightshirts, in the late 1880’s.

• The word “pyjama” has its origins in the Persian language, with a rough translation being “leg garment”.

• Two piece pyjamas consisting of loose trousers tied at the waist and a shirt-like top for men became the norm in the US around 1920.

• According to the Guinness Book of Records the largest sleepover, or pyjama party, was held in Kent in the UK on March 8, 2008 with 1626 Girl Guides sleeping side by side.

• The 1964 movie Pajama Party (note the US spelling) starred Annette Funicello, Buster Keaton and Dorothy Lamour and featured product placement of the soft drink Dr. Pepper as well as the new Ford Mustang.

On Saturday April 12th don’t be surprised if you see ladies wandering Wellington Avenue donned in their best pyjamas, their destination – the Royal Hotel and the first annual “Pyjamas for a Purpose”, a pyjama party for ladies aged 19 through 90 in support of the important programs and services provided to our community by Ann Davis Transition Society.

1984.094.008 Pro Rec remedial class

The fun filled evening starts at 6:30 pm and includes live musical entertainment by Damian Brennan, wine education and tasting with Chaberton Estate Winery, 30 minutes of Zumba by local licensed instructor Alma Schlitt (who has graciously donated her services), appetizer and dessert buffet, skin care & facials – ending with a prize for the best pyjama contest before the ladies retreat to their rooms for the night. There will also be a silent auction with 100% of proceeds going to Ann Davis Transition Society. In addition to the fun filled evening events, included with your ticket is one night accommodations and continental breakfast the next morning.
Tickets are $89 or $129 each by either phone 604-792-1210 or on the hotel’s website. Use promo code PJ4P.


To reach their goal of presenting one hundred pair of new pyjamas to Ann Davis, the Royal Hotel will start collecting pyjamas on April 1st. A drop-off box for new pyjama donations will be located in the lobby of the Royal Hotel from April 1st through April 12th, culminating with the “Pyjamas for a Purpose” PJ Party on April 12th.

The Streets of Chilliwack – Part 3

The Patten House as The Duke of Dublin

Dr. Lee Alfred Patten was born in Trenton, Michigan in 1880 and graduated from medical school at McGill University in Montreal in 1910. I was not able to discover how he arrived in Chilliwack however he did practice medicine here for forty years before his passing at age 76.

P395 Musical Production

Dr Patten (above,middle) in a theatrical performance.

Dr. Patten’s home at 9254 Nowell Street was constructed in 1912 by Ernest Hill, a local contractor. Mr. Hill was known at the time for his use of concrete block construction, which was deemed fireproof, and utilized this material for the Patten House. The family house served as both a family home and a place for his medical practice. The family occupied the upper floor and his medical office was housed on the main floor.

Dr. Patten died in his home on Nowell Street on September 17, 1956 and the obituary listed his survivors as his wife, two sons and a daughter. The house has gone through several transformations over the years – as restaurants, The Gardenia House, Engumi’s and possibly more. The house was unoccupied for many years…..then was transformed into an Irish pub in 2008, the Duke of Dublin. Here is a link with a photo of the Patten House as it appeared in 2008.

Reports of the house being haunted can be found on YouTube. Shaw Cable reported on the “ghost” sightings and eerie presence felt by staff of the Duke of Dublin. One manager reported on feeling a hand on her shoulder, saw a refrigerator door open by itself, and heard doors rattling with these occurrences usually happening at night

Changing hands (and name) again in 2013, the Patten House is now home to Society Gathering House.

Chilliwack’s Vaudeville Theatre on Yale Road

P593 Yale Rd. East view

The theatre is the tall building wearing the Skelton’s sign, Courtesy of Chilliwack Musuem and Archives.

Did you know an original vaudeville theatre still stands proud in downtown Chilliwack? Located at 46130 Yale Road, the two story building was once operated as the Lyric then the Imperial Theatre providing a venue for vaudeville acts in Chilliwack starting at the beginning of the last century. Typically vaudeville acts consisted of live variety acts like Shakespeare performances, singing, dance and comedy acts, live animal tricks, plate spinners– anything considered respectable and clean. The performances were geared towards the middle class and were suitable for the entire family, unlike burlesque acts that were performed at saloons and drinking establishments. The shows were usually three or four hours in length with each of 9 acts given 7 to 12 minutes to perform once during the evening. Harry Houdini, Ethel Merman, the Marx Brothers and Will Rogers were regular fixtures on the vaudeville circuit. It was between these acts that still photo plays were shown to the captive audience (before moving pictures) as “added attractions” on the vaudeville bill. In fact, it was in vaudeville theatres where early motion pictures were first shown.

imperial theatre 036A July 1911 showing at the Lyric Theatre in Chilliwack included the “Original and only official motion pictures of the Coronation of His Majesty King George V”. Admission was 25 cents with two viewings of the coronation held at 7:30 and 8:45 pm.

During the First World War films often depicted items from the news including footage of the war effort along with current events.

imperial theatre 035

Suffragettes convention in 1915 in Chilliwack (women were not granted the right to vote in B.C. until April 1917!)

Over time attendance at vaudeville theatres waned as silent films then later talking movies gained popularity. In March 1926 renovations began at the Imperial Theatre to make it more suited to show motion pictures. The Chilliwack Progress newspaper detailed the proposed changes to the theatre in March 17, 1926, changes that included improving the seating gallery for movie viewing while increasing the capacity to 500. The same article also mentioned the theatre’s concrete construction as fireproof; meeting the fire zone bylaw established after a fire in 1908 destroyed many of Chilliwack’s downtown commercial buildings. Perhaps this method of construction contributes to the longevity of the building. Currently privately owned, the old Imperial Theatre building now houses a business on the main level with a private residence occupying the upper floor.