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Community News And Features: Pitt Meadows Culture And History
Submitted. As a small agricultural community on the north side of the Fraser River, Pitt Meadows is distinguished by its relatively tranquil culture and history. [Click On Image For Full Story] From its origins as First Nations territory to its current status as a thriving bedroom community of Vancouver (just 45 minutes to the west), Pitt Meadows has remained lush, fertile, and welcoming beneath the backdrop of the Coast Mountains. Today, it’s closely associated with neighbouring Maple Ridge.
The First Nations
The original inhabitants of the Pitt Meadows area were members of the Katzie Nation, tied closely to the Sto:lo people of the Fraser Valley. The Kwantlen Nation also had a significant presence here. For centuries, the Aboriginals engaged in hunting, fishing, and farming along the Fraser River. They occupied at least 10 villages in the area.
In 1824, a British explorer, Captain James McMillan of the Hudson’s Bay Company, named the Pitt River (a tributary of the Fraser River), likely inspired by British prime minister William Pitt the Younger. Settlers began coming to the area in larger numbers by the mid-19th Century. Logging and dairy farming had emerged as core industries by the 1870s.
Arrival of Railway
The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) line in 1885 spurred growth in the community, as it was no longer necessary to travel here by boat. A big flood in the spring of 1894 caused hardship for farmers and residents.
Pitt Meadows in the 20th Century
Pitt Meadows was originally part of Maple Ridge, but was incorporated separately as a district municipality in 1914. Early 20th-Century landmarks include: the first post office in 1908, followed by a school in 1909. A bridge was constructed over the Pitt River in 1915, facilitating access to Vancouver and other nearby communities like New Westminster.
French and Asian immigration to the area increased at this time (although tragically, many Japanese settlers would be sent to internment camps during World War II). In 1928, Pitt Meadows got electrical service, and 1948 saw the institution of a water line. Mid-century, the coming of the Lougheed Highway (Highway 7) improved traffic flow.
Agriculture in Pitt Meadows
With the post-World War II dyking of the Pitt and Alouette Rivers, courtesy of Dutch farmers, fruit and vegetable production on the rich, low-lying fields of Pitt Meadows was expanded. Blueberries and cranberries, in particular, emerged as signature Pitt Meadows taste treats.
Pitt Meadows Regional Airport
The forestry sector grew for most of the 20th Century. An increasing population led to subdivisions being built in the 1960s, and the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport opened in 1963.
Modern Pitt Meadows
In the 1990s, the arrival of the West Coast Express train line facilitated access to downtown Vancouver. Pitt Meadows (pop. 15,263) was incorporated as a city in 2007. In 2009, the opening of the new Pitt River Bridge and Golden Ears Bridge ensured that Pitt Meadows residents could enjoy easy commuting through Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
Pitt Meadows Museum
Learn more about the city’s culture and history at the Pitt Meadows Museum (12294 Harris Rd). Admire its colourful assortment of First Nations artifacts and pioneer memorabilia. Also instructive is the Maple Ridge Museum (22250 116th Ave) with its spectacular model railroad diorama. Check in advance for opening hours.
For more information on the culture and history of Pitt Meadows, contact the Visitor Centre (12492 Harris Rd).