Abbotsford, British Columbia

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Downtown Abbotsford and Central Business District
Downtown Abbotsford and Central Business District
Flag of Abbotsford
Coat of arms of Abbotsford
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): "Abby", City in the Country, Raspberry Capital of Canada
Motto: "Unus Cum Viribus Duorum"  (Latin)
"One with the strength of two"
Abbotsford is located in British Columbia
Location of Abbotsford in British Columbia
Coordinates: 49°3′16.6″N 122°19′41″W / 49.054611°N 122.32806°W / 49.054611; -122.32806
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Region Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland
Regional district Fraser Valley
Established 1892
Incorporated 1945
 • Mayor Henry Braun
 • MP Ed Fast (Conservative)
 • MLA
 • City 375.55 km2 (145.00 sq mi)
Elevation 38 m (124 ft)
Population (2011)
 • City 133,497
 • Density 355.5/km2 (921/sq mi)
 • Urban 149,855
 • Metro 170,191
Demonym Abbotsfordian
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
Postal code V2S–V2T, V3G, V4X
Area code(s) 604, 778

Abbotsford is a city located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia, adjacent to Greater Vancouver. With an estimated population of 133,497 people as of the 2011 census, it is the largest municipality of the Fraser Valley Regional District, the fifth-largest municipality of British Columbia, and the largest outside Greater Vancouver.[1] The Abbotsford–Mission metropolitan area of around 170,191 inhabitants as of the 2011 census is the 23rd largest census metropolitan area in Canada.[1] Abbotsford has the third highest proportion of visible minorities among census metropolitan areas in Canada, after the Greater Toronto Area and the Greater Vancouver CMA.[2] It has also been named by Statistics Canada as Canada’s most generous city in terms of donations for nine straight years,[3] though the city is noticeably less charitable to its homeless citizens.[4]

The community of 375.55 square kilometres (145.00 sq mi) is the largest city by area in British Columbia.[5] It is home to the University of the Fraser Valley, TRADEX and Abbotsford International Airport, which hosts the Abbotsford International Airshow.

The municipality's southern boundary is the Canada–United States border, across which is Sumas, Washington. In Canada, it is bordered by the Township of Langley to the west, the Fraser River and the District of Mission to the north, and the City of Chilliwack to the east. Much of Abbotsford enjoys views of Mount Baker (to the southeast, in Washington) and the Coast Mountains (to the north).


Abbotsford's colonial development began when the Royal Engineers surveyed the area in response to the Gold Rush along the Fraser River in 1858. This led to the building of Yale Road (today Old Yale Road), the first transportation route to link the Fraser Valley. Settlement grew and the production of butter, milk and tobacco began by the late 1860s. In 1889, former Royal Engineer John Cunningham Maclure applied for a Crown Grant to obtain the 160 acres (0.65 km2) that would become Abbotsford.

There is some controversy over the origin of the Abbotsford name.[6] The most commonly cited origin is that Maclure named the land Abbotsford after family friend Henry Braithwaite Abbott, the Western Superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway.[7] Until 1922 the name was spelled Abottsford. Maclure's sons later stated that the property had actually been named for Sir Walter Scott's home, Abbotsford, who pronounced it with the accent of "ford." [8] while in his later years Maclure himself claimed that the naming had been "a combination of two ideas".[6]

The title passed hands to Robert Ward, who filed a townsite subdivision on July 9, 1891. Also in 1891, the CPR built a railway line through the area that connected Mission with the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway at Sumas, Washington. This route was the only rail connection between Vancouver and Seattle until 1904. The Village of Abbotsford was incorporated in 1892. At that time Robert Ward sold many of the lots to private investors, but also sold off a significant portion to the Great Northern Railway’s subsidiary company the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway. The British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) arrived in 1910. The Interurban, as the BCER tram linking Abbotsford with Vancouver and Chilliwack was called, was discontinued in 1950, but BCER's successor BC Hydro retains the right to re-introduce passenger rail service. Service to Vancouver runs from neighbouring Mission by way of the West Coast Express.

The most notable natural disaster to hit Abbotsford was a major flood of the Fraser River in 1948.

In September 1984 Pope John Paul II held an open-air mass for over 200,000 people at the Abbotsford International Airport.[9]

The amalgamation of the Village of Abbotsford and the District of Sumas into the District of Abbotsford occurred in 1972. The District of Abbotsford amalgamated with the District of Matsqui in 1995 to become the City of Abbotsford, raising the population significantly.


Abbotsford City Hall

Abbotsford City Council comprises a council-manager form of local government. The mayor and council were elected on November 15, 2014. The mayor is Henry Braun (50.91% of the popular vote). Councillors elected in 2014 are: Patricia Ross (7.97%), Les Barkman (6.42%), Moe Gill (6.15%), Ross Siemens (6.04%), Brenda Falk (5.72%), Dave Loewen (5.59%), Kelley Chahal (5.21%), and Sandy Blue (5.16%). School trustees elected are: Cindy Schafer (9.72%), Stan Petersen (9.39%), Shirley Wilson (9.04%), Rhonda Pauls (8.89%), Preet S. Rai (8.74%), Freddy Latham (8.29%), and Phil Anderson (7.55%).[10][11]

The Abbotsford flag and coat of arms are the same, featuring straight, diagonal crosses representing Abbotsford as at a "crossroads". At the centre is a strawberry blossom to symbolize the local berry industry. The flag of Abbotsford was originally blue in colour. The change to green was initiated in 1995 when the District of Abbotsford and the District of Matsqui amalgamated to create the City of Abbotsford.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1931 510 —    
1941 562 +10.2%
1951 785 +39.7%
1956 830 +5.7%
1961 888 +7.0%
1966 792 −10.8%
1971 706 −10.9%
1976 9,507 +1246.6%
1981 12,745 +34.1%
1986 14,496 +13.7%
1991 18,864 +30.1%
1996 105,403 +458.8%
2001 115,463 +9.5%
2006 123,864 +7.3%
2011 133,497 +7.8%
Sources: Statistics Canada[12][13][14]

Ethnicities and visible minorities[edit]

Abbotsford has the third highest proportion of visible minorities among Census Metropolitan Areas in Canada, after the Greater Toronto Area and Greater Vancouver.[2]

The largest racial group is European Caucasian, comprising approximately 73.6% of the population. This group includes German, Dutch, British, Irish, Scandinavian and Slavic ethnic origins.[15] The next largest racial group in Abbotsford is South Asian (countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka) comprising 19.1% of the population. This is followed by Aboriginals at 2.9% of the population (which includes indigenous peoples from other parts of Canada and the United States) and Chinese at 1.69%.

More than a quarter (26.1%) of the city's population was born outside Canada. Of that percentage, a majority is from South Asia, followed by groups from China, South Korea, Southeast Asia and Latin America. English is the primary language spoken, with 78.7% of the population having it as their first language.

Footnotes to Ethnic Origin by Regional Grouping
1Census Canada does not distinguish between European and North American French origins. This category includes Acadians; Québécois-only (not multiple responses) are in North American origins.
2Métis, First Nations, Inuit, Native Americans, Alaska Natives
3American, Canadian, Québécois, Newfoundlander, does not include aboriginal peoples
4Including aboriginal people of South and Central America
5Germany, Austria, Benelux, Switzerland
6Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland
7Slavic and Baltic countries, plus Hungary and Albania
8Roma (Gypsy), Jewish, Basque, misc. Slav
9Excluding Arab countries of the Maghreb, including Afrikaners and other white South Africans
10Including the Maghreb/North Africa
11Afghan, Iranian, Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Turkish, Georgian, Armenian
12Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand
Canada 2011 Census Population  % of Total Population
Visible minority group
South Asian 29,275 22.4%
Chinese 1,805 1.4%
Black 1,120 0.9%
Filipino 895 0.7%
Latin American 755 0.6%
Arab 250 0.2%
Southeast Asian 1,110 0.8%
West Asian 130 0.1%
Korean 1,470 1.1%
Japanese 510 0.4%
Other visible minority 355 0.3%
Mixed visible minority 575 0.4%
Total visible minority population 38,700 29.6%
Aboriginal group
First Nations 3,285 2.5%
Métis 2,085 1.6%
Inuit 120 0.1%
Total Aboriginal population 5,230 4%
European Canadian 87,020 66.5%
Total population 130,950 100%

Although British Columbia is the least religious province in Canada, the majority of Abbotsford's population is Christian, with 61.4% of the population. The Lutheran and Anabaptist (Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church) denominations make up the largest congregations. The next largest religious group is Sikh, comprising 13.4% of the population. The city contains the first Sikh Gurdwara built in Canada (in 1911), and the oldest in North America. A National Historic Site, located on the neighbourhood, it is now over 100 years old.


The Abbotsford metropolitan area has Canada's highest proportion of Indo-Canadians.[19] In 2006 Abbotsford City had 23,355 South Asian visible minorities, and 23,615 persons indicated they had South Asian ethnic ancestry.[20] Indo-Canadians in Abbotsford have worked in berry farms and in area businesses. Members of the ethnic group first arrived in the 1920s.[21]



62% of Abbotsford residents work in the city of Abbotsford itself. Most of the remaining 38% commutes to Mission, Chilliwack or Vancouver and its suburbs (primarily Surrey and Langley).[23] More than 25% of Abbotsford's work force commutes to Abbotsford from other municipalities.[23]

The Conference Board of Canada has identified the local economy as one of the most diverse in the country.[24] Abbotsford's main industries are agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and retail. The city earns the highest dollar per acre of agricultural land in the country, greater than the Niagara Region and the North Okanagan.[24]

Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre and community health services make Fraser Health the city's largest employer with about 2,500 staff.[25] The city is also home to three federal prisons, each of which employs between 200 and 500 officers and support staff. There is also a growing aerospace industry led by Cascade Aerospace and Conair Group Inc.

Local and privately owned confectionery company Brookside Foods Limited was acquired by The Hershey Company in 2011.[26]


46 public elementary, middle, and secondary schools are administered by Abbotsford School District [3]. This includes a virtual school called "Abbotsford Virtual School" that offers more than 30 semestered online courses. This school offers a unique animation and modeling program that teaches students aspects of the video gaming industry.

Private schools include St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary, Mennonite Educational Institute, Abbotsford Christian School and the Dasmesh Punjabi School.

Post Secondary institutions in the city include the University of the Fraser Valley, religious institutions such as Columbia Bible College and Summit Pacific College, as well as career colleges such as Career Gate Community College, Sprott Shaw College, Vancouver Career College, Métis Skills & Employment Centre, and CDI College.

Arts, culture and heritage[edit]

The Abbotsford Arts Council hosts a number of free local events including music in Mill Lake Park, the Arty Awards and more recently, the Christmas Artisan Gift Fair. It has been involved in projects such as the Abbotsford "Unity Statue", Abbotsford Christmas Craft Fair, Art in the Park, Abbotsford's Art and Heritage Unity Festival, and the Historical Downtown Art Bench Project. As well as maintaining the Kariton Art Gallery which features and hosts exhibitions from local artists of all mediums residing in the lower mainland.

The Reach Gallery Museum features exhibitions from across Canada and around the world, as well as the work of local artists. It houses a heritage archive, runs special events, programs and courses and seeks to promote local arts and culture.

Gallery 7 Theatre & Performing Arts has been one of Abbotsford only performing arts organizations since 1991 and operates out of Mennonite Educational Institute. They produce four mainstage productions every year.


Public bus transportation is provided by the Central Fraser Valley Transit System. Passenger rail service to Vancouver currently runs from nearby Mission by way of the West Coast Express.

Air links are provided by the Abbotsford International Airport. The airport is one of the fastest growing commercial airports in western Canada, and acts as a reliever airport for Vancouver International Airport.[citation needed] WestJet provides regular scheduled service from the airport, due to its proximity to Vancouver's eastern suburbs. The airport is also the home of the annual Abbotsford International Airshow.

Major transportation routes leading into Abbotsford are the Trans-Canada Highway (#1), Abbotsford-Mission Highway (#11) and the Fraser Highway (#1A). Access to the United States is via the Huntingdon border crossing.


Due to its proximity to Vancouver, most Vancouver television and radio stations are also available throughout the Fraser Valley, although in a few cases there are repeater stations licensed to different centres in the region. Some stations from Washington State, US are also available in the Fraser Valley due to its proximity to the border. The first radio station in the Fraser Valley was CHWK Chilliwack established in 1927, the company established CFVR in Abbotsford in 1962. Initially the station originated local programming in the morning and then repeat the Chilliwack broadcasts the rest of the day.

Abbotsford is home to Country 107.1, part of Rogers Digital Media, which services the Fraser Valley with "Today's Best Country".[27]

As far as print goes, The Abbotsford News is the dominant newspaper in Abbotsford with some 90 years of history behind it.

In October 2008, the owners of Today Media launched Abbotsford Today, an online news source [28] based on unfettered, community-centered, citizen journalism. By 2014, Abbotsford Today had a sustained audience of over 25,000 unique visitors every month and had broken several national and international stories such as June 5, 2013 Chicken Manure Incident [29]which received worldwide coverage.

In December 2013 Black Press, owners of the Abbotsford News, announced the closure of the Abbotsford Times leaving one newspaper The Abbotsford News to serve the community.


From 2009 until 2014, Abbotsford hosted the NHL's Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat.[30][31][32][33] Home games were played at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.

Beginning in fall of 2012, the BC Angels of the Legends Football League's LFL Canada division began play at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre as well.[34]

Abbotsford's Jane and Gerry Swan Track at Rotary Stadium is home to the Valley Royals Track & Field Club, who have produced numerous Olympians including two for the 2008 Olympics. Rotary Stadium was also home to the defunct Canadian Junior Football League's Abbotsford Air Force.

The Abbotsford Pilots of the Pacific International Junior Hockey League (Junior B level) play at MSA Arena, which is Abbotsford's 2nd largest arena at just over 400 seats. Abbotsford was considered as a possible home for the Chilliwack Chiefs (Junior A), who were forced to move in 2006 when the Chilliwack Bruins (a WHL expansion team) took over their arena, Prospera Centre. Abbotsford would have become the home of the Chiefs if the city had supported them in building a new arena; instead, the Chiefs moved to Langley. Ironically, construction has now been completed in Abbotsford on a far bigger sports & entertainment centre (with 7,500 seats).[35]

Abbotsford Minor Hockey is one of the largest associations in British Columbia with more than 1000 players registered from the ages of 5 through 18 years old. This association is recognized by many as a model and a leader in the development of minor hockey programs, and several Abbotsford-raised players have gone on to the highest levels of this sport. In the 2005–2006 hockey season, Abbotsford's Bantam AAA team were ultimately the Western Canadian Bantam Champions, and eight individual players from this team (the most ever) were selected in the 2006 WHL Bantam Draft.

Abbotsford has a superior Youth soccer program, winning 2 national titles, and numerous provincial titles. It is also home of soccer all stars Sophie Schmidt, Brad Petoom and Adam Lang. Abbotsford is home to the Abbotsford Mariners of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League, the highest level of amateur soccer in North America.

Abbotsford is home to many high school sports, with Abbotsford Collegiate, W.J. Mouat Secondary, Rick Hansen Secondary, Robert Bateman Secondary, St. John Brebeuf Secondary, Yale Secondary, and the Mennonite Educational Institute, among others, doing very well in track and field, volleyball, basketball, and football. These schools have consistently ranked among the highest in the province. The Yale Secondary Senior Boys Basketball Team, under Coach Al Friesen, won the 2008 ‘AAA’ provincial boys' basketball championship.[36]

Abbotsford's rugby club supports three men's teams, two women's teams, U19 men's and women's, U15 U16 and U17 men's, and a great mini rugby program. Many of Abbotsford's players have gone on to play for Canada, such as Erin Lockwood, Ryan McWhinney, Scott Hunter and Brodie Henderson.[37]

In Olympic sports, Abbotsford's Alana Kraus has won medals in short-track speed skating.

Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Abbotsford Heat
Ice hockey Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre
BC Angels
LFL Canada
Arena football Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre
Abbotsford Pilots
Ice hockey MSA Arena
Abbotsford Mariners
Soccer Bateman Park
Abbotsford RFC
Rugby CFV Exhibition Park


As of July 20, 2006, the Abbotsford–Mission metropolitan area had the highest property crime rate and the second highest violent crime rate for cities with a population of 100,000 to 500,000 in Canada.[38]

The metropolitan area had the highest rate of homicides nationally for two years running (2008 and 2009) with a rate of 5.22 homicides per 100,000 population, compared with the national average of 1.81.[39][40] In 2010, the rate was 2.3.[41]

The City of Abbotsford has its own municipal police force, one of eleven municipal police forces in British Columbia. It is the third largest municipal police force in British Columbia (behind Vancouver and Victoria). As of 2006, the Abbotsford Police Department employed nearly 200 officers and 80 civilian employees.

The Abbotsford Police Department was officially formed in 1995 when the District of Matsqui and the District of Abbotsford amalgamated to become the City of Abbotsford. Prior to the amalgamation, the District of Matsqui was patrolled by the Matsqui Police and the District of Abbotsford by the RCMP. During the referendum citizens elected to keep a municipal police force.

The Abbotsford Police Department was involved in the investigation and arrest of the "Abbotsford killer" Terry Driver, who attacked two girls in 1995.[42]


These places represent parts of the city that have more than one neighbourhood in them.

  • Abbotsford East
  • Abbotsford West
  • Aberdeen
  • Bradner
  • Central Abbotsford
  • Matsqui
  • Poplar
  • Sumas Mountain
  • Sumas Prairie


Surrounding municipalities[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, census metropolitan areas, census agglomerations and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses – 100% data". January 6, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  2. ^ a b c "B.C. is nation's most ethnically diverse province: StatsCan". CBC News. April 2, 2008. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ List of the 100 largest cities and towns in Canada by area
  6. ^ a b Thorburn, Mark (2009). British Columbia Place Names. Dragon Hill Publishing Ltd. p. 336. ISBN 978-1-896124-46-9. 
  7. ^ WS Crocket 1905 Abbotsford Adam and Black London History of Abbotsford. M.S.A. Museum
  8. ^ WS Crockett 1905 Abbotsford Adam and Black London
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "British Columbia – Municipal Census Populations (1921–2011)". BC Stats. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  13. ^ In 1976, the amalgamation with the District of Sumas raised the population. Previous figures were for the square mile of Abbotsford only.
  14. ^ In 1995, the amalgamation with the District of Matsqui raised the population.
  15. ^ "Profile of Ethnic Origin and Visible Minorities for Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census, Census Canada/Statistics Canada". December 6, 2010. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  16. ^ "Profile of Ethnic Origin and Visible Minorities for Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census". June 10, 2008. Retrieved 2011-03-10. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Community Profiles from the 2011 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision". December 6, 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-13. 
  18. ^ "Aboriginal Peoples - Data table". October 6, 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-13. 
  19. ^ "CENTRE FOR INDO-CANADIAN STUDIES AND RESEARCH at University College of the Fraser Valley" (Archive). University College of the Fraser Valley. p. 3 (PDF p. 4/14). Retrieved on October 20, 2014.
  20. ^ "Profile of Diversity in BC Communities 2006 Abbotsford" (Archive). Government of British Columbia. Retrieved on October 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "City of Abbotsford" (Archive). Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Retrieved on October 19, 2014.
  22. ^ "Abbotsford A". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Joe Millican For the commute the car is king. Abbotsford News. April 17, 2009
  24. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  25. ^ "City of Abbotsford Top Employers - 2008". City of Abbotsford. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Country 107.1". Country 107.1. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Hall, Vicki (March 12, 2009). "Flames' farm team set to move to Abbotsford". Vancouver Province. Retrieved 2009-03-16. [dead link]
  31. ^ [2][dead link]
  32. ^ "The HEAT is on for 2009–10 AHL season". Fraser Valley Sports & Entertainment Ltd. May 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14. [dead link]
  33. ^
  34. ^ "LFL Canada Releases BC Team Name & Logo". Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  35. ^ "Abbotsford sports website". Archived from the original on February 10, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  36. ^ 2008 AAA Boys Provincials Archived July 21, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Abbotsford Rugby website
  38. ^ Vancouver, The (July 21, 2006). "Abbotsford is Canada's theft capital". Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  39. ^ "Homicides by census metropolitan area". October 26, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  40. ^ "Homicides by province and territory". October 26, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  41. ^ "B.C. city officially ditches murder capital moniker". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  42. ^ Scott Steele (May 20, 1996), "Abbotsford Killer Arrested", Maclean's (The Canadian Encyclopedia), retrieved 2009-06-28 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°03′16.6″N 122°19′40.8″W / 49.054611°N 122.328000°W / 49.054611; -122.328000