Yarrow paves way to pioneering path

New pavilion and pathway expected to open in time for Yarrow Days

Victor Froese

Victor Froese

Yarrow’s Pioneer Park has been a long, ongoing project of love within the small community for decades.

Improvements and additions over the years have included a playground, a water feature that has since become a monument, a skateboard park, and a stunning gateway entrance. Each project has been community-driven and embraced by park goers of all ages.

Now, the Yarrow Volunteer Society is undertaking a project that has been in the hearts and minds of the community for the past 40 years. They’re creating a pavilion that will allow picnickers to sit in the shade or be shielded from the rain. It will one day host birthday parties, plant sales, and reunions, and it will be ready in time for this year’s Yarrow Days.

And while the pavilion is an exciting step forward for the park, the curving pathway of engraved paver stones that will lead to it, is possibly even more so.

Victor Froese, a board member of the volunteer society, says some of the pavers will feature the names of Yarrow’s early pioneers. Others will feature the names of those who helped build Yarrow through the 1940s to the 1970s. Still more will carry the names of today’s families, individuals and businesses that want to help create this long-lasting legacy.

That will include Froese, and his wife Sandra. They were among the first to purchase a paver, and so far the society has sold about 70. They are hoping to sell about 150, at $60 each. That will cover the costs of building the pathway.

The paver stone project will pay respect to the pioneers who built the community, just as the park’s name is intended to. Names like Eckert and Chadsey, Vedder and Wiens, are familiar to most in Chilliwack, but some may not realize how far those names date back.

The Yarrow Volunteer Society is hoping that by preserving those names in the park through this paver project, that history will remain strong.

“This is why we called it Pioneer Park in the first place,” Froese says. “And there’s been the idea of having a  pavilion here for a long time.”

Looking through records of meetings, he could find mentions of a dining pavilion dating back to the 1980s. While each group of volunteers had slightly different visions of what it would look like, they were spurred on to pin down a design when they received funding out of the blue. A member of a local Mennonite Brethren Church had bequeathed a large sum of money to be given to the community for a “something that’s a blessing.”

The church turned to the volunteer society, who knew the pavilion would benefit everyone who uses Pioneer Park. To complete the funding for the pavilion, they partnered with the City of Chilliwack. The building plan has been approved, a contractor (Mr. Build) has been chosen, and they hope to have the entire project done by the end of spring.

The pavilion will cost $70,000 to build, and will be a 20-foot-by-40-foot structure with a peaked roof. It will hold six to eight permanent picnic tables, and sit in the southwest quadrant of the park. Someone sitting in the pavilion could keep an eye on their children or grandchildren in either the playground or the skate park. They could get reprieve from the summer sun, or the driving rain.

The paver stone pathway will lead from the parking area on Kehler and gently curve its way to the pavilion. In total, it will be 90 feet long and require 2,000 bricks.

While not all the stones will be engraved, the special ones will be placed strategically. While the project will enhance the park, it could also spark interest in history and even be the basis for field trips for local elementary students.

“This is a gathering place and we want the people in the community to use it,” Froese says.

They sold the first few pavers at last year’s Yarrow Days, where they had a booth set up. Now that the project is drawing closer, the buzz around Yarrow is heating up. They are hoping to finish up sales by March 1, and are getting the word out through social media and other venues, campaigning online and in person.

Each paver can contain up to two lines of information, 16 characters maximum per line, including spaces.

More information about purchasing a paver stone can be found by emailing yarrowvolunteersociety@outlook.com.