Formal studio portrait of Volkert Vedder. (Photo Courtesy of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives [PP500066])

Pioneers: Volkert Vedder an early colonial settler in Yarrow

Volkert Vedder arrived in Chilliwack with his two sons, Adam and Albert, in the early 1860s

Vedder is a common place name in Chilliwack.

Vedder Crossing, Vedder Bridge, Vedder Road and Vedder Canal are just some of them.

The name comes from Volkert Vedder who arrived on the south side of Chilliwack with his two sons, Adam and Albert, in the early 1860s on a piece of property located below Majuba Hill.

Volkert was born in Schenectady, New York in 1808. He married Agnes Swart around 1830 and the couple had three sons, Adam, Albert and John.

Volkert originally ventured to the West Coast by himself in 1851, landing in California in search of gold. He then returned home the next year and brought his three sons back to California with him in August 1852, shortly after his wife died. The four Vedders went by train to various mines in California for eight years. During that time, his son John died in California.

The Vedders later made their way to Canada after word got out of another gold rush north of the U.S. border. After the Cariboo gold rush, Volkert along with Adam and Albert, came to the valley eventually settling on crown land in Chilliwack in the 1860s.

He was the first colonial settler to pre-empt Crown land in the area that later became Yarrow.

By the early 1870s, Volkert had one of the largest single parcels of land in the area, owning a 640-acre estate. Along with his two sons, the Vedders ended up owning a total of 1,200 acres.

Volkert had an interest in trails and bridges — he helped finance a bridge in Hope over the Coquihalla River, and made an offer to open up a trail in the area.

A handwritten proposal from Volkert and two partners to Peter O’Reilly, gold commissioner and magistrate in Hope, read verbatim: “To Judge O’Rily, we the undersinede propose to open the trail from fort hope to the Chilawack by removing logs and other impediments so it is passable for animals for consideration of one hundred dollars.”

It is unclear exactly what years some of the major landmarks in Chilliwack were named after Volkert Vedder, but there are several on the list.

Vedder River used to be known as Vedder Creek, a stream that came down Vedder Mountain and passed through the Vedder farm. The flow of the creek was so slow, it was even known to dry up during some summers.

In 1875, a logjam in the Chilliwack River gave way which diverted some of the water into Vedder Creek. In 1882, the water in Chilliwack River changed course again when a blockage occurred rerouting all of the water into Vedder Creek. That section of the new river, which was originally called Vedder Creek, was later named Vedder River.

Sometime in the 1880s, brothers Frank and John Lumsden purchased the Vedder ranch. At that point, Volkert made the short trek north to Sardis to live — that’s where his son Adam owned a large parcel of land.

Volkert Vedder died at the age of 89 in 1898.


 

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jenna.hauck@theprogress.com

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Photograph shows the farm of the Lumsden brothers, Frank and John A., who purchased the Volkert Vedder ranch in the 1880s. (Photo Courtesy of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives [PP501355])

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