Arts & Culture

Celebrate BC Heritage Week in Abbotsford

February 20, 2024

February 19th to 25th, 2024 marks BC Heritage Week. Abbotsford is home to a rich and diverse heritage, with traditions and history being passed down amongst generations and cultures. Explore the history of how Abbotsford was built, the stories of those who built it and how that history shapes our future. Visit one of our many museums and historic sites, or read and learn virtually about what makes Abbotsford a thriving community proud of its’ heritage.

When it opened in 2008, The Reach wanted to create a space to preserve and share the stories of Abbotsford’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and showcase the best in arts from local artists as well as artists across Canada and throughout the world. Voices of the Valley, its permanent history exhibition, was opened in February, 2016 in collaboration with the MSA Museum Society. The exhibition invites everyone, from avid history buffs to school children, to explore the rich collections of historical objects, photographs, and archival materials that tell the story of the community through the eyes of individuals who have shaped it.

The Reach’s current exhibition, Des Pardes,  explores and celebrates the vibrant and diverse South Asian communities of the Fraser Valley. The phrase “des pardes”—which can translate to “home and abroad” or “Motherland/Other Land”—embodies the sense of longing for, and belonging to, an ancestral place that is experienced differently across generations. Personal accounts, archival documents, photographs, heirlooms, and works of art contributed by members of local South Asian Canadian communities are organized around the themes of migration, faith, family, business and livelihoods, oppression and opposition, and contemporary culture. Des Pardes highlights the importance of tradition and multigenerational family bonds, the tenacity of individuals and communities in the face of adversity and discrimination, and the significant impact that these communities have had in shaping Abbotsford and the surrounding region.

A National Historic Site, the Gur Sikh Gurdwara (Temple) has been a Sikh place of worship since 1912. Built by a community of Sikh settlers, it is known as the oldest existing Sikh Gurdwara (Temple) in North America. The restored building is managed by the not-for-profit society, The Khalsa Diwan Society, who run the daily management. On the ground floor is the Sikh Heritage Museum, open to the public. The second floor remains as a prayer room. In 2011, a ten year partnership was created by the South Asian Studies Institute (SASI) at UFV, the Reach Gallery Museum and the Khalsa Diwan Society, Abbotsford to run the museum. SASI curates the exhibits and assists with community tours and other engagements at the Sikh Heritage Museum, with The Reach’s support.

The current exhibition, ‘Marriages and Migration: A Transnational Story of BC’ aims to tell the history of transnational marriages in Abbotsford’s Panjabi Sikh community using photographs from the Del Monte collection to present a glimpse into Panjabi Sikh wedding ceremonies from the 1960s to the 1990s.

The Clayburn Village Museum will be open for 4 days during Heritage Week 2023. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday the history of BC’s first company town will be open to the public. Presented by the Clayburn Village Community Society in the basement of the Heritage registered Clayburn Schoolhouse, it houses a model of Clayburn Village and the brick plant during the 1920’s, made to railway scale and an old fashioned schoolroom. As well, pictures and stories of life from the area and the little village built for the Vancouver Fireclay Company Ltd which became Clayburn Company Ltd.

The museum will be open from 1pm to 4 pm every day from February 22nd to 25th.

Established in 2016, The Mennonite Heritage Museum is owned and operated by the Mennonite Museum Society. The museum’s permanent exhibit hall illustrates the story of the Mennonites spanning 500 years, beginning with the Anabaptists of the 16th century. Follow the story of the Mennonite journey from Zurich in Switzerland to the Netherlands, across northern Europe to Poland/Prussia, then Russia, and finally, to Canada. Seasonal exhibits throughout the year highlight various aspects of Mennonite history and faith, both in the Fraser Valley and beyond. There is a particular focus on how Mennonites have interacted with agriculture over the centuries, from their agrarian days in Prussia and Russia, to the establishment of productive farms in the Fraser Valley.

The museum is open to visitors 10am-3pm on weekdays except on statutory holidays and weekends. Admission is by donation.

If you live in Abbotsford chances are you’ve driven past Trethewey House. Or maybe you’ve heard the story of J.O. Trethewey, a lumber baron who was responsible for the leadership of the company during its boom years in the 1920s. Trethewey House Heritage Site is operated by the Heritage Abbotsford Society, a charity organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of our community. This is achieved through educational programming, tours of Trethewey House and the Upper Sumas BCER station, exhibits and displays, including the one-room schoolhouse experience and the Heritage Gallery exhibits, along with walking tours, heritage-themed events and workshops, interpretive educational and outreach programs, and summer camps for youth and children.

Heritage Abbotsford Society and the Fraser Valley Watermedia Society is launching Crossroads, a travelling exhibit about Abbotsford’s historic buildings. The first stop is Trethewey House, where you will be able to view the beautiful art work and pick up your free copy of the informative catalogue until late March.

Trethewey House is open Monday-Friday from 1pm-4pm for drop in tours by donation.

Go to Top