Hops Online Exhibit

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Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Henry Hulbert of Hulbert Hop Gardens

Hulbert Hop GardensHenry Hulbert was the first successful Sardis hop grower. He was part of the wave of growers in British Columbia that began developing hops in the 1890s. Hulbert was an Englishman, educated in England, Germany and Switzerland, who by 1884 had found his way to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to operate a tea and rubber plantation. Malaria likely caused him to leave from there in 1892.

Hulbert's return journey to England brought him to Vancouver and a trip to Chilliwack to visit his sister-in-law. After seeing the results of two local farmers who were experimenting with hop growing, he decided to stay in the Fraser Valley. He purchased 50 acres of farmland in Sardis and by 1893 was successfully growing hops.

Henry Hulbert's timing was fortunate. Infestations of the hop louse, a type of aphid, were devastating hop growing regions on Vancouver Island and in Western Washington. The decline in production in the other growing areas combined with the favourable growing conditions in the Fraser Valley meant that Hulbert's operation was a commercial success from the beginning.

Hulbert first sold to English brewer but, by the turn of the century, was selling to Canadian companies. O'Keefe's, John Labatt's, Carlings and a host of smaller breweries in various towns across Canada bought his hops.

He ran the yard until his death in 1931. His son John took over but because of asthma was unable to run the farm with any degree of success. John's wife became the manager. Howerver, the farm soon deteriorated and was sold to another company (John I. Haas Hop Company) in 1944. This plot, located along Vedder Road in Sardis, continued to operate as a hop farm until 1975.

E. Clemons Horst - BC Hop Company

Horst Hop GardensE. Clemons Horst, a German born America, entered the business in 1902. Horst worked as a hop merchant throughout the 1890s in New York, but, by 1902, moved to San Fransisco to develop his interests in fruit growing and canning. He began hop growing in 1902 in Sardis with a few acres but by 1912, through expansion to Agassiz, the renamed BC Hop Company had grown to over 300 acres under cultivation, becoming the largest producing farm in the area. Horst died in 1940 and his company remained in production until 1954 when the high cost of hand picking plus lower priced American hops brought about the companies decision to leave Canada and sell to the John I. Haas Company.

Horst Hop YardsHenry Norton Ord - Canadian Hop Company

The draining of Sumas Lake in 1924 opened a vast tract of new farmland. The Canadian Hop Company purchased 600 acres in 1926 and by 1927 the first crops were being harvested. This company was formed when Henry Norton Ord, who had gained experience in Horst's American hop yard operations, joined forces with Thomas Livesley and Hugo Loewi, to create the company. Ord became the managing partner. Ord eventually split with his partners in the mid 30s and went on his own way establishing a second hop yard on Sumas Prairie and yards in Kamloops. Mildew was apparently introduced into Sardis in the mid 1930s and this may have prompted Ord to move to the dryer interior region. Upon his death, his wife who was an astute business person in her own right, operated the business for another couple of years until 1957 when she sold her land to John I. Haas Hop Company.

Haas Hop YardJohn I. Haas - John I. Haas Hop Company

In 1925, John I. Haas, and English born American who started in the hop brokerage business in 1914, purchased a farm in Sardis on Evans Road. This farm became the centre for the company's Fraser Valley operations. John I. Haas was known as a tough, no-nonsense owner. His sone, Fred, took over the business after his father's death in 1944. Fred was equally as business-like and according to Rick Knight, the last manager of the Haas yard in Sardis, he was "a pure hops person".

By the late 1950s, the John I. Haas Hop Company was the only remaining hop growing company in the Chilliwack area, having purchased all of the hop yard lands in Chilliwack (1325 acres). Hulbert's operations were Haas Hop Yardadded to the Haas company in 1944. The Chilliwack Progress for February 11, 1953 announced that the John I. Haas Company had purchased Canadian Hop Holdings - 450 acres on Sumas Prairie. In 1954, Haas purchased the assets of the BC Hop Company. Finally, in 1957, Harry Ord's operations were purchased by the Haas Company. Fred Haas died in 1991 and willed 1325 acres of prime Fraser Valley land to Georgetown University and Georgetown Prepatory School. Some of the acreage continued to grow hops until 1997 when the land was sold. With this closure a Canadian industry with more than 100 years of social, cultural and economic history came to an end in Chilliwack.


Online exhibit (c) Chilliwack Museum and Archives 2008. About the Exhibit