Chilliwack PIoneer Village: stepping back in time

Pioneer Village is one of the stops on the Chilliwack Slow Food Cycle Tour this Sunday.

Stuart Vander Kooi

Stuart Vander Kooi

Walking through Pioneer Village is like stepping into a time warp.

To a time where the women wore tight corsets and bustles and slaved over wood stoves and hand-cranked washing machines, and where the men drove horse-drawn carriages and worked the threshers in the fields.

A place where milk wagons, candlestick telephones, and shorthand dictionaries fit; where sadirons, blocks of Velveeta cheese and metal horse harnesses could all be purchased at the General Store; where the downtown featured all the necessities – post office, chapel, schoolhouse, library, and blacksmith shop.

A place that’s been in Chilliwack for more than 30 years, but only now is starting to be adequately promoted.

The Pioneer Village at Heritage Park is one of the stop’s featured in this weekend’s Slow Food Cycle Tour.

It’s a first for the Village.

“We have so much stuff; we should be showing it off,” said Stuart Vander Kooi, president of the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association, which runs the Village.

“You’d be surprised the number of children here who don’t have a clue about our farming history. They get their milk from the grocery store and that’s as far as [their knowledge] goes.”

The ATA is trying to change that.

Pioneer Village, located next to Heritage Park, is seven kilometres of pure history – most farming.

Standing between rows of milk wagons, carriages, depot hacks, tractors, threshers, and vintage cars, Vander Kooi’s eyes light at the history around him. Being a farm boy himself, and a dairy farmer on Jesperson Road for over 30 years, the ATA was a natural for his retirement years.

When he started volunteering with ATA eight years ago, it was a love for “tinkering” that drew him in. Immediately his eyes fell on the old Fraser Valley milk wagon.

“It was a pile of scraps,” he said. “All the front woodwork was rotten. The wheels were rotten,” stuck in about a foot of dirt.

Vander Kooi couldn’t wait to get his hands on it.

Three months later, it was fully restored – new wheels, new woodwork, new paint, intricate details replaced or rebuilt, bringing it back to its heyday when milk drivers were the first on the road delivering fresh jugs prior to the breakfast hour.

“I haven’t a clue where they all come from; they just kind of show up,” laughed Vander Kooi.

Some with no known history like the bakery carriage that, when its layers were peeled back, showed it a former laundry wagon. And some with suspected heirs like the Landau Carriage, circa 1890, that came from Victoria and may have been used for formal occasions with the B.C. government.

By partnering with the Slow Food Cycle Tour, members of the ATA hope to attract a younger crowd into the Village.

Slow Food Vancouver, a non-profit organization, has been holding the cycle tour in Chilliwack for five years in an effort to connect urban consumers with local producers. Most stops are specifically food related – beef and dairy farms, grain producers, corn, honey, herbs and more – located on modern-day farms.

Vander Kooi believes Pioneer Village brings the 25 km, self-guided tour full circle.

“It’s history; most farm history,” he said.

“The young people need to know what things were like years ago.”

Chilliwack Slow Food Cycle Tour is Sunday, August 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost is $15.

For more information, or to register, go online at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged with criminal negligence in Coquihalla crash is accused of ignoring smoking brakes

Just before crashing the smoking truck was seen entering Zopkios brake check and leaving shortly after

Shaelene Keeler Bell. (Facebook)
Candlelight vigil Saturday for missing Chilliwack mother

Virtual event to ‘spread some light’ for 23-year-old Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack

Becky Miller, and her daughters Aurora, 5, and Alice, 2, getting the truck ready to help the St. Paul’s Dump Runners fundraiser Feb. 27, 28, March 1 and 2. (Becky Miller)
St. Paul’s Dump Runners of Chilliwack ready to pick up odds and ends for a cause

For a donation to the Nicaragua Feed the Children Fund volunteers haul stuff to the dump

(File Photo)
Crash causes delays on Coquihalla southbound, travel advisory issued

A vehicle incident between Merrit and Hope has caused major delays heading south

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Head of internal medicine at Chilliwack General Hospital Dr. Shari Sajjadi talks about the positive feedback hospital staff have received over this last year in the latest YouTube video about COVID-19 created in partnership with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and the Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network. (YouTube)
VIDEO: Dr. Shari Sajjadi says a simple ‘thank you’ helps keep up spirits of healthcare workers

‘We are so thankful for the positive feedback we are getting from our patients’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read