Chilliwack Museum and ArchivesFlooding in Chilliwack

Dyking in Chilliwack

Early Dykes

In the 27 of June, 1894, a meeting of settlers was called to discuss plans for dyking.  It was made known that a scheme for dyking the river could not be discussed by the Province until the next Parliament. Since many of the families were hard-up for money, a dyking project had the potential to create jobs and money in the area. Many of the settlers pledged to do what they could to help the dyking efforts.  However, dyking of the rivers was postponed until 1896, after another flood took place.  The settlers were unprepared for another flood to occur so soon, but it prompted the government to establish the Chilliwack Dyking Commission.  The McLean Brothers Contractors claimed the contract for constructing the Chilliwack Dyke in 1899.  The first dykes were in place by 1901. Chilliwack and Sumas farmers received payment as they worked with their horses, ploughs and scrapers to construct the dykes. [image: P1662 men, woman and child at a dyke construction work camp. c.1900]

Sumas Lake Reclamation and Vedder Canal

Sumas Lake claimed an area of about 10 000 acres of fertile land and swelled to approximately 30 000 acres during spring freshet.  The draining of Sumas Lake, which began in 1922, was a flood control measure as well as an opportunity to take advantage of the fertile soil for farming. Engineer Fred Sinclair developed a plan for the draining of Sumas Lake.  For the project to be successful, the Vedder River was diverted into the Vedder Canal in 1924.  The lake was drained and pumped over the dykes into the Fraser River.


Dredging is a process in which gravel and sediment is removed from the riverbed in order to make waterways navigable and to reduce the risk of flooding.  After the construction of the Vedder Canal, gravel needed to be removed periodically to reduce build-up between the Vedder bridge and Yarrow.  Since fish spawn in the gravel beds, gravel is only removed during dredging windows before and after spawning season. [image: P5914 Dredging at Vedder Canal as part of the Sumas Lake Reclaimation project, 1920].


Chilliwack Museum and Archives 45820 Spadina Avenue, Chilliwack, BC, Canada V20 1T3 [604.795.5210]