Did you know that Mission was almost named “East Vancouver” or “North Seattle”? It’s true! However, The Town of Mission City ended up being named as such due to it’s proximity to St. Mary’s Mission, founded in 1868 to spread Christianity to local aboriginal people and control rowdy miners.
In 1891 core commercial areas and streets were auctioned off as a land promotion in the “Great Land Sale” of 1891; buyers were brought in from Vancouver and Eastern Canada and encouraged to settle in what was to be a new metropolis. Buildings in the area were even designed to remind residents of small towns in southern Ontario in the hopes of attracting buyers.
Mission soon became a thriving community; one of the most lively retail and social destinations in the Fraser Valley in the early to mid 1900’s. Several of the commercial streets were, in fact, named after one of the men who had a large hand in the development of modern-day Mission. Grand Street, Welton Street, James Street and Horne Street are named for “the grand James Welton Horne!”
There were several other settlements within the area, including approximately 300 houses near Stave Falls and other communities in Ruskin, Steelhead and Silverdale. Each of the areas had their own unique history and cultural background. However, the history of this part of the Fraser Valley goes back much further than the late 1800’s.
For thousands of years people have been stopping along the shores of the Fraser River to build homes and take advantage of the abundant salmon, towering cedars and bountiful berries and game. The area now known as Mission is a traditional home of the Sto:lo First Nations people, and remains of a 9,000 year old aboriginal village can be explored to this day.
The area was so rich that visitors soon brought trade goods from hundreds of miles away. They have been coming ever since but now seek to experience the amenities, the history and wonderful recreational opportunities that await them. Bird watchers will be entranced by the bald eagles and trumpeter swans that frequent the area in winter. Furthermore, the surrounding lakes and mountains provide fishing, hiking, camping and skiing for outdoor enthusiasts.
Whether you want to sightsee at scenic waterfalls, hike or ski on nearby trails or fish in one of the many lakes, Mission has it all. Outstanding views of mountains, rivers, lakes and valleys, year-round recreational opportunities and an exciting history are just a few of the reasons why Mission is a great place to visit or reside.
At one time the railway line at Mission Junction was the only rail link between BC and the US; the original station is in the process of being restored to keep that part of Mission’s history alive. Did you know that Canada’s first and only train robbery took place in Mission in 1904? The perpetrator was the elusive Billy Miner.
In nearby Harrison Mills, visitors can browse through the Kilby Historic Store and Farm. A map of all the historic buildings throughout Mission is available through the Tourist InfoCentre.
We also encourage you to discover more of Mission’s rich history and explore our heritage buildings. If you’re curious about the area’s past, please visit the Historical Society in downtown Mission.