Hops Online Exhibit

Brewer's Gold HomeBrewer's Gold Home

Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Top of the Hop

For a brief time period from 1912 to 1925, little growth took place in the industry in Chilliwack. However, events in both Canada and the United States resulted in rapid, large-scale expansion in the industry beginning in the mid-1920s.

The Volstead Act

Volstead ActThe Volstead Act (National Prohibition Enforcement Act) passed by the United States Congress in 1919 and which went into effect in 1920 effectively ended the legal production of alcoholic beverages in the United States. For the most part, however, the Act was unenforceable. Alcohol continued to be produced. Illegal imports from Europe and Canada found their way into American homes and speakeasy clubs. Canadian products, including beer, were funneled into the United States by newly emerging entrepreneurs and organized crime groups. Despite prohibition, consumption of alcohol continued.  The failure of the Volstead Act to curb consumption led to its repeal in 1933.

Industry Growth and Success

During this time, the Canadian brewing industry experienced phenomenal growth. Capital invested in the industrygrew from $29,580,433 in 1917 to $45,375,529 in 1925. Demand forhops faroutstripped supply. Canada was only able to supply about 50% of the hops required for the domestic market. The expanding market demanded a rapid increase in hop production. The Fraser Valley, already Canada’s major hop producing region, was ideally suited to absorb this growth. Well drained alluvial soils, a plentiful supply of land and the potential for a large labour force made the area suitable for expanded hop production.

Within five years, from 1925 to 1930, the amount of acreage devoted to hops in the Fraser Valley more than doubled. This increased production brought about the need for a greatly expanded labour force. An additional 1500 to 2000 workers were required. In the time period after World War Two, up to 4,000 pickers gathered in Chilliwack for harvesting.

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