Between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago the Sto:lo arrived in the Chilliwack area. At the time of their first contact with Europeans, it is estimated that there were as many as 30,000 people living within Sto:lo territory. The word Chilliwack is the name of a local Indian tribe as well as a geographic description of the area. Originally spelled Chilliwhack, this "Halq'emeylem", word means "quieter water at the head" or travel by way of a backwater.
A Brief History of Chilliwack - 0:57
In 1857, gold was discovered in the Fraser Canyon. By 1858, over 30,000 gold miners had trekked to the goldfields, most travelling through the Chilliwack area. By the mid 1860s several farms had grown up around the steamboat landings on the Fraser River called Miller's Landing, Sumas Landing and Chilliwack Landing. The Township of Chilliwack was incorporated in 1873, the third municipality in British Columbia. Initial settlement was along the Fraser River at Chilliwack Landing. Steamboats were the main mode of transportation, carrying goods and passengers between Chilliwack and New Westminster.
Photo: Courteousy of Chilliwack Museum & Archives.
With little room for expansion along the river, the commercial area of the town moved south to the junction of the New Westminster-Yale Wagon Road, Wellington Avenue and Young Road, called "Five Corners." A large subdivision called Centreville was built In 1881. The name Centreville was replaced in 1887 by the more popular "Chilliwhack." The area was incorporated in 1908 as a separate municipality, the City of Chilliwack. The City and the Township co-existed for 72 years until 1980 when they merged to form the District of Chilliwack. The District of Chilliwack became the City of Chilliwack in the early 1990s.
Top Tip: There are at least 5 museums you can visit in the Chilliwack area to experience what life use to be like here in the past. Check out our Museums Section.