The culture and history of Maple Ridge is intertwined with traditional British Columbia industries like farming and forestry.
Its laidback but friendly residents take pride in their rural community and its abundance of mountains, rivers, and trees. Today, Maple Ridge has grown into a thriving bedroom community of Vancouver, just a 45-minute drive away, and this district municipality is also closely associated with neighbouring Pitt Meadows.
The First Nations
The original inhabitants of the Maple Ridge 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.
The Beginnings of Maple Ridge
European settlers began to trickle into the Maple Ridge area in the mid-19th century following the Fraser River Gold Rush. In 1858, a carpenter named Samuel Robertson, who worked for the Hudson's Bay Company, settled and planted an orchard in Albion on the north side of the Fraser River, across from Fort Langley, the "Birthplace of British Columbia."
The following year, another pioneer called John McIvor established a dairy farm in the area. He named it Maple Ridge; hence the municipality's name.
Another key early settler was Thomas Haney, who set up a brickworks. The lovingly preserved family residence, Haney House, still remains as one of Maple Ridge's popular historic and heritage sites today. Haney also lent his name to the district within Maple Ridge that's now considered the downtown core, around the junction of 224th Street and Dewdney Trunk Road.
Historic Neighbourhoods and Churches
In addition to Haney, numerous other historic neighbourhoods would emerge in Maple Ridge, such as Hammond, Whonnock, Albion, Ruskin, Yennadon, and Webster's Corners. These often received their own post office, church, and other amenities, but today have been incorporated back into Maple Ridge, although the names linger on.
BC's Sixth Municipality
Maple Ridge was incorporated as BC's sixth municipality in 1874, although fewer than 50 families resided there at the time. The 1859-built wooden Anglican church of St. John the Divine is believed to be the oldest functioning church in British Columbia. It was originally located across the river in Langley, but has been at its present Maple Ridge location since 1882.
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.
Maple Ridge Grows
From logging at Alouette Lake to mills at Ruskin and Whonnock, forestry proved to be an engine of growth for Maple Ridge as the municipality moved into the 20th century. A bridge was constructed over the Pitt River in 1915, facilitating access to Vancouver and other nearby communities like New Westminster.
Improved Transport Links
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). Mid-century, the coming of the Lougheed Highway (Highway 7) improved traffic flow. An increasing population led to subdivisions being built in the 1960s, and the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport opened in 1963.
Modern Maple Ridge
In the 1990s, the arrival of the West Coast Express train line facilitated access to downtown Vancouver. Maple Ridge became part of Metro Vancouver in 1995. In 2009, the opening of the new Pitt River Bridge and Golden Ears Bridge ensured that Maple Ridge residents could enjoy easy commuting through Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
Maple Ridge Museum
Eager to learn more about the culture and history of Maple Ridge? Don't miss the Maple Ridge Museum with its spectacular model railroad diorama, vintage telephone exchange, and other exhibits. The Pitt Meadows Museum with its colourful assortment of First Nations artifacts and pioneer memorabilia is also instructive. Check in advance for opening hours.