Following the 1858 gold rush there was an influx of people to the Chilliwack area. In Sardis, A.C. Wells, Adam Vedder and Jane Evans were amongst a group that pre-empted land in the 1860s in what became the Sardis corridor. Mrs. Adam Swart Vedder is credited for choosing the name Sardis when she randomly opened her Bible and found the name Sardis in the Book of Revelations 3.1.
In 1887, residents of Sardis petitioned the federal government for a post office. In documents supporting the application, E. H. Fletcher, Post Office Inspector for British Columbia, described Sardis; “There is no village properly speaking but the farmers houses are all situated within a reasonable distance of the proposed site….At least thirty families would make use of the office if established, as well as from thirty to forty unmarried settlers residing in the vicinity” (Coutts, Cecil C., Cancelled With Pride, A History of Chilliwack Area Post Offices, 1865-1993, Cecil C. Coutts Publishing, p. 71). Residents got their post office soon after this request.
The boom period for Sardis began in the 1890s. The Coqualeetza Residential School was established by the Methodist Church in 1888 but underwent substantial growth in 1894 when a large school building was constructed. The school became a tuberculosis hospital in 1941 and operated until 1969. Currently the Coqualeetza is now an administrative centre for a number of Stó:lō bands.
Henry Hulbert began growing hops on his Vedder Road in 1892. Hops was a labour intensive industry and attracted workers from many parts of the province. At the production during the 1940s, over 4,000 pickers would come to the hop fields located in Sardis to pick this essential ingredient that was used in the making of beer. For more than 100 years, hop growing and production was important to the economy of Sardis and helped define the character of the community. The last hop farm ceased production in 1997. For a more detailed look at the industry, go to www.chilliwackmuseum.ca and check the on-line exhibits.
In 1896, A. C. Wells’ Edenbank Creamery that had operated for several years was reorganized and became the first co-operative creamery in British Columbia. The Wells’ farm continued to prosper during this period. The creamery continued to operate until it was absorbed by the Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association in 1917.
These developments ensured the success of a viable business centre. In 1891, Alex Campbell built the first store. Campbell’s business included dry goods and groceries and he accepted farm produce in exchange for goods. In succeeding years the store was owned by Joseph Ogle, John Henry Ashwell, Alan Langstaff and the Ernie and Clifford Pearson. Other businesses followed and located to the strategic intersection of Vedder and Knight Roads.
In 1910, construction of the British Columbia Electric Railway through Sardis added to the community's growth. Electricity, water and phone service arrived with the railway. Subdivisions began to appear. In 1910, one-acre lots were advertised for $500 in the local newspaper.
Carman Methodist Church opened in 1898 followed by St. John’s Anglican Church in 1912.
Reminders of this earlier period can still be found in Sardis. The Coqualeetza Director’s House (1896), the A.C. Wells retirement home (1897), the Edenbank Trading Company store (1907) and the Horatio Webb retirement home (1911) act as sentinels to the period when Sardis was a village community.