A 100-year-old piece of Chilliwack history will be home again to one of its original residents.
Sixty years after moving out of her family home on a dairy farm in the mid ’50s, Marie Weeden is returning with her husband, Dick.
The history of the farm site itself goes back even further. The original 450-acre plot of land owned by the Wells family has gone through a lot of changes over its 146 years.
In 1867, Allen Wells, the great-grandfather of Weeden, purchased the vast property and built a dairy farm on it, known as Edenbank Farm. It was located in Sardis, on the west side of Vedder Road near Spruce Drive.
In 1913, Weeden’s grandfather, Edwin Wells, tore down the original farmhouse and built the current Edenbank house with wife Gertrude, all while raising a young family. Weeden’s father, Oliver, was just six years old at the time and he grew up on the farm with his four brothers.
“Oliver wanted to be a farmer so he continued on the farm,” says Weeden.
In 1931, Oliver got married to Sara McKeil. They had a small family of two daughters — Marie (1935) and older sister Betty (1933).
When Weeden was a child, she and her friends used to roller skate in the attic.
She moved out in the ’50s and eventually became the owner of the family home.
When she moved back in the ’70s, she papered the walls with old newspapers that her family had kept about the history of the Fraser Valley.
Over the years, it was mostly members of the Wells’ family who lived there until the ’70s.
In 1981, the property was sold to Chilliwack’s Brodel Development Corp., owned by Eldon Unger, who turned 12 acres of the land, surrounding the house, into a multi-housing subdivision for adults aged 55 and older. The 1913 farmhouse now stands tall in the middle of the adult-oriented complex, appropriately known as Edenbank.
The house has since been transformed from a residential building into the complex’s clubhouse all while maintaining the house’s original features.
Though 100 years old, the historic heritage house remains in beautiful condition with its warm hardwood flooring, colourful stained-glass windows, broad entryways into the living and dining rooms, brass-and-tile fireplace, and its lovingly hand-crafted nameplates which still hang above the boys’ bedroom doors upstairs, from when Oliver was a child.
The house is used on a daily basis and is officially known as the A.C. Wells Clubhouse. The residents of Edenbank hold meetings there, and it’s used regularly for reading in the library, playing cards in the games room, and having a drink with neighbours at the bar.
On July 20, current and past residents of Edenbank gathered to celebrate the house’s centennial anniversary. Tables were set up with photos, newspaper articles, and more on the history of Edenbank Farm.
Edenbank has just about everything one can ask for in a multi-housing complex.
Attached to the back of the clubhouse is a pool, hot tub, sauna, weight room, tennis court and squash court. A one-kilometre long pathway meanders through the entire subdivision and around the detached homes, townhouses, duplexes, and condos which surround the clubhouse. A large, grass field runs along the west side of the property where resident practice their golf swings. A creek hugs the houses on the east side, and behind it is a thick wall of trees which blocks nearly all the traffic sounds from Vedder Road, located only metres away.
“It’s quite a little gem right in the middle of town,” says 15-year-resident Jan VanderHoek.
This month, Marie and Dick Weeden are moving into one of the condos at Edenbank, a place she can once again, call home.
To find out more about Edenbank, you can read the book Edenbank: The History of a Pioneer Farm. You can borrow it from the Chilliwack Library, or it’s available for purchase at the Chilliwack Museum.