Chilliwack, Heritage and Craftsman Houses



Skelton House circa 1914 (courtesy Chilliwack Museum and Archives)

Sitting proudly at the end of Spadina Avenue opposite the old fairgrounds is The Skelton House. Completed in 1914 the large craftsman home is celebrating a milestone birthday this July – one hundred years after the first residents, Robert G. and Susan Skelton moved in with their young family. The large residence displays the typical features of a craftsman style home with a generous full width front porch, inset second floor balcony, exposed rafters and decorative braces under gables, tapered porch columns and wood shingle siding. The Skelton House originally sat on a 2-1/2 acre parcel of land purchased from Chilliwack pioneer Isaac Kipp and was valued at $1500.00 in 1913. Tax records from the City indicate improvements were made to the property in 1914 and 1915. A barn was built first followed by the grand craftstman style house. The acreage was later subdivided into city lots; the Skelton House is now surrounded by newer homes however still holds a prominent place on Chilliwack’s Spadina Avenue; adding historic texture to the neighborhood.

For more information on the arts and crafts movement and all things craftsman, check out the following website:


Receipt from 1938. Note the gloves priced at 1.98 


In 1926 Robert Skelton opened his men’s wear business at 45957 Wellington Avenue in downtown Chilliwack. Unfortunately fire destroyed the building in March, 1930 when a spectacular fire ripped through the commercial district, razing a large portion of the downtown core. The building was later re-constructed on the same site utilizing beautiful multi-coloured mosaic tiles on the front of the building including the entrance. Today these tiles can still be seen on the store front on Wellington Avenue; taken over in 1966 by Gord-Ray Men’s Wear and still in business today. The interior still bears the original tin ceilings – have a peak inside next time you walk by.


R.G Skelton Men’s Wear on Wellington Ave. (courtesy Chilliwack Museum and Archives)


current photo of Skelton House (courtesy of Ted Sauriol photographer) Spadina Road The Skelton House 1913


Women Granted Right to Vote


May 24th marks an important date in Canadian history. It was on that day in 1918  Prime Minister R.L. Borden’s government passed “An Act to Confer Electoral Franchise Upon Women”, or in other words, Canadian women were given the right to vote in federal elections. But not all Canadian women were granted the ability to vote in 1918. This right was limited to women who were British Subjects, or not “alien born” and met the property requirements of the province where they lived. The right to vote in federal elections however, was not extended to women of either Asian or Aboriginal descent. These women would have to wait several more decades – until 1948 and 1960 respectively for this privilege. The Canadian provinces each granted women the right to vote in provincial elections at different times. Manitoba was the first province in January 1916; Alberta followed in April 1916 and the province of B.C. granted the right to women in 1917.


(photo courtesy history

Nellie McClung was Canada’s well-known suffragette; a feminist before her time as well as published author of 16 books and outspoken advocate for the right of women to vote. Born in Ontario in 1873, McClung would later become a school teacher, marry and have 5 children (the times dictated that Nellie give up her teaching job when she married.) These accomplishments are in addition to her involvement with the Canadian Women’s Press Club and the Political Equality League. (For those unfamiliar with the word suffragette, the Oxford dictionary defines suffragette as “a woman seeking the right to vote through organized protest”.) Nellie McClung died in Victoria, B.C. in 1951 where she had relocated with her husband in 1935. For more information on this Canadian icon, check this link:

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The suffragette movement was active in Chilliwack, B.C. – with a Suffragettes Convention held on the nights of February 10th and 11th, 1915 at Chilliwack’s Imperial Theatre on Yale Road.


Campaign button from WAC Bennett (BC Premier from 1952-1972) Chilliwack Museum and Archives


Monster Truck Production Transforms Chilliwack

may 15 010may 15 017may 15 016With the addition of the odd mail box from the US postal service, a few street banners bearing the name Anderson and vehicles wearing North Dakota licence plates, Wellington Ave.( in front of the Royal Hotel) in downtown Chilliwack has been transformed into fictional small-town USA, namely Sentinel County’s Anderson, North Dakota

Paramount Pictures has been filming their $100 million dollar live action/computer generated imagery/special effects Monster Truck production in downtown Chilliwack since this Tuesday the 13th. Today is day three in Chilliwack and the weather has definitely co-operated! Above average temperatures with long, sunny days have made for a more pleasant work environment, I am sure. Working long days (normally twelve hours) the large crew has made Chilliwack their home base as the stunts and action continues with the monster truck being chased by the army and police through the downtown streets and alleys.
The roads are constantly being hosed down (a real clue to the upcoming street action) to make them appear darker on film, with water trucks and hoses standing by.
The scenes are shot and then re-shot and sometimes re-shot (going again…as they say).

The fifty background stunt-actors (it is dangerous work – the monster trucks roars by at high speed and slides around corners on two wheels!) on set add to the hundreds of crew members that have landed in our city. Although the crew is well-fed with production supplied catering serving gourmet breakfasts and lunches, crew members have been seen frequenting Chilliwack’s eating and drinking establishments after filming is completed for the day – a good thing for our local businesses.

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The action continues today (Thursday) until end of day Saturday. The crew will then move to another location and return to Chilliwack to continue filming May 26, 27 and 28th.
Although the parking is limited, all businesses remain open and welcome you to drop by – you may see monster truck action while you are in downtown Chilliwack. Parking is available free of charge at either the old Safeway on Main Street or at the new parking lot at five corners on Young Road.

Chilliwack Home to Canada’s Largest Dairy Farm

Agriculture has played an important role in the settlement history of Chilliwack and continues to contribute to the economic health of our community. The valley’s rich alluvial soil coupled with a moderate climate (and yes, rainfall) continues to attract farming families; currently there are over 900 farms in Chilliwack and many of them are family run.
And did you know Chilliwack is home to the largest dairy farm in Canada with a herd of over 3000 cattle! Unfortunately the farm is not open to the public. (They don’t even have a website)

Although Chilliwack’s large cattle operation is off limits to visitors (for health and safety reasons) there are farms in Chilliwack where you can visit to experience an authentic agricultural immersion for the whole family. I have listed five Chilliwack farms below.

Be sure to contact the farms directly to confirm when they are open to the public before you plan your visit.


Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Fantasy Farms is a family run facility on Gibson Road specializing in seasonal farm festivals. Starting in spring with Easter on the Farm; summer happenings include The Chilliwack Corn and Country Music Festival and the Garlic & Music Festival. Fall at Fantasy Farms is a very busy season as they host children of all ages at Reapers Haunted Attraction and Maze and Petey’s Pumpkin Patch. In December the farm is transformed with seasonal magic to welcome visitors to Petey’s Country Christmas. Check out their website for details and dates

Growing an assortment of vegetables as well as blueberries and strawberries, the Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm was established in 1977 in Abbotsford before the family relocated to a larger property in Chilliwack. The Forstbauer family was also a pioneer in biodynamic and organic farming practices over thirty years ago and have created a healthy farm environment by following these farming methods (while raising twelve children at the same time!) The farm is open by appointment only 604-794-3999.

Local Harvest Market is Chilliwack’s newest addition to the local fresh food movement. The farm and market opened with a limited variety of produce late last summer; April 1st was the opening of the farm and market for 2014 with an offering of freshly harvested vegetables, herbs and fruit grown on their fertile thirty acre property on Lickman Road. Local Harvest is more than a farm, however, as they offer farm tours, (check out the alpacas and bees) workshops (covering interesting topics, like home canning) and rides on either the barrel train or hay wagon. Picnic tables are provided on site to enjoy the home-made offerings from their café. The market store carries more than just veggies – here you will find local eggs, honey, jams and even coffee. Come to Local Harvest Market and experience an authentic farm! Discover how sustainable farming benefits the environment and the community and see where your food comes from. Find them at 7697 Lickman Road  604-846-6006. 

Yarrow Elderberry Farm is located at 44497 Vedder Mountain Road in Yarrow and opens seasonally for u-pick. Elderberry fruit is a new crop to the Chilliwack area and not well-know (good luck finding elderberries at your local big-box grocery store). The deep purple, almost black fruit hangs upside down from the deciduous shrub when ready to harvest in late summer, is rich in both vitamin A and C and is used for pies, jams, jellies and wine. (Remember Elton John’s song Elderberry Wine?)

Rehoboth Farm is another family run operation in Yarrow housing close to 400 free-range hens and chickens as well as grazing goats, pigs and cattle. Stop by their farm for a dozen free-range eggs. Their free-range eggs are also available in select stores – but why not get them direct from the farm.
Located in beautiful Yarrow at 4123 Eckert Street, Rehoboth Farms has also been certified by the SPCA since 2006. Call the farm at 604-823-4534 for their hours of operation. (no website)

Come to Chilliwack and experience a day on the farm – see where your food comes from.PP502122.JPG

The Kipp family with their plum harvest. (Chilliwack Museum and Archives)

Paramount’s Monster Trucks Production in Chilliwack


Chilliwack’s downtown is preparing for its “close-up” as it gears up for an upcoming major film shoot that’s happening for eight days in May. Filming for the largest production to hit Chilliwack to date begins on May 13. The large contingency of cast and crew will be descending upon Chilliwack’s historic downtown as filming for Paramount Pictures $100 million CGI (computer generated images) and live action Monster Trucks production begins in our city.

Set for a May 2015 release and with “Ice Age” director Chris Wedge at the helm, the action film’s cast includes Amy Ryan (from the Office) and veteran actor Danny Glover (as a junk yard owner) joining Lucas Till, Jane Levy and Rob Lowe (news flash: it was just announced that Lowe is joining the cast).

Filming of the action scenes will commence May 13th through 17th and span sixteen square blocks of Chilliwack’s downtown including five corners. Wellington Avenue will be set-up for major monster truck action with cameras situated on roof tops of surrounding buildings capturing the action. The filming continues on May 26 through 28th and will include filming of the principal actors’ scenes during the three day shoot.

All businesses in the downtown will be open as usual during this period although filming will impact some street access and parking in the area. Support these downtown shops by shopping and eating while filming is underway – you never know who you may cross paths with while strolling downtown Chilliwack in May. Please be patient, respect the work of the film crew and remember the positive and lasting impact a large production like Monster Trucks can have on a community. This production has the opportunity of putting Chilliwack on the map, so to speak, in terms of future filming locations. After all, Chilliwack has lots to offer the film community for locations – a historic, small-town downtown core, numerous heritage homes and buildings, mountain vistas, fertile farmland, lakes, streams and rivers. Let’s also be known as a place that welcomes film crews into their city.


“Monster Truck” from the 1940s (courtesy Chilliwack Museum and Archives)

If you really want to be part of the magic of film and watch as the action unfolds in downtown Chilliwack, book a room at the historic Royal Hotel on Wellington Ave during the filming.
The twenty nine room Royal Hotel is offering a special rate for the period of May 13 through 28. Book either on-line or by phone and mention the promo code “MONSTR” while making your reservations. or 1-888-434-3388