Mission is a town and district municipality of about 39,000 people (2016) in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia. It was founded in 1892 in the land of the Stó:lō First Nations people. It is home to early BC railway links and hydroelectric power, and a Benedictine monastery on a hilltop with stunning views.
Historically, forestry, hydroelectricity and agriculture were Mission's chief resource sectors and provided the basis for varied related retail and service activities. Transportation improvements have enabled the manufacturing sector to expand beyond sawmilling and food processing. Forest and wood related industries dominate the manufacturing sector, with an emphasis on red cedar shake and shingle mills.
Agriculture is mostly restricted to a narrow belt along the Fraser River. Dairy is the chief agricultural enterprise; other income sources include poultry, hogs, beef and vegetables.
The Town of Mission City began as a land promotion. The town's core commercial properties and residential streets were auctioned off at the "Great Land Sale" of 1891, with buyers brought in via the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) mainline from Vancouver and from Eastern Canada. Some of the early houses and commercial buildings were designed to be reminiscent of small towns in southern Ontario in order to encourage buyers. Hailed at the time as a new metropolis, the fledgling town's location at the junction of the CPR mainline with a northward extension of the Burlington Northern Railroad brought name suggestions that included East Vancouver and North Seattle. The name Mission City was chosen due to the site's proximity to the historic St. Mary's Mission of the Oblate order just east of town, which was founded in 1868 (now the Peckquaylis Indian Reserve).
At the time of founding, the swing-span Mission Railway Bridge (opened in 1891) was the only crossing of the Fraser River in the Fraser Valley below the Alexandra Bridge, and all rail traffic between Vancouver and the United States was necessarily routed through Mission until the New Westminster Bridge at New Westminster was built in 1904.
The western part of the district, the Stave Valley, is largely rural and forested but its watercourse is home to what was the largest hydroelectric project in British Columbia until the Bridge River Power Project opened in 1961. It was built by the British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) to provide power to the electric street railway and interurban system in Vancouver.
The building of Highway 1 on the south side of the Fraser in the early 1960s brought huge population growth and large shopping malls to formerly rural Abbotsford, Matsqui, Sumas and Langley; as a result Mission lost its "anchor", the main Eaton's department store in the valley, and the town's Main Street businesses lost much of their business to the new shopping malls a few minutes away across the river.
Outside of the core "urban" area was a collection of distinct rural communities, each with their own history and sometimes distinct ethnic flavour. Silverdale, 7 km west of Mission on the east bank of the lower Stave River, was homesteaded in the 1880s by Italian immigrants; their descendents reside there to this day. Neighbouring Silverhill was founded by a Finnish Utopian sect who were superseded by Scandinavian and German settlers following a forest fire that virtually wiped out the Finns.
Other localities such as Ferndale, Cedar Valley and Hatzic were farming communities of mixed origin, with Europeans and anglicized French-Canadians alongside the usual British-Scottish Canadian mix typical of much of the Fraser Valley. Throughout the Mission area before World War II, there was a large Japanese-Canadian population involved in berry farming, logging and milling and in the fishery on the river.
One of Mission's major industries was logging, and the town's several mills were noted for being the world's largest suppliers of red cedar shakes and shingles. In the 1960s and 1970s there was a large cluster of productive mills on the waterfront in Mission, for many years world capital of red cedar shake production. Nearby Eddy Match Co., between Mission and Hatzic, was the largest matchstick-making plant in the world until it closed in the 1960s.
Mission is the home of a long-established professional dragstrip, Mission Raceway Park, which was moved outside the lower part of town to reduce noise in residential and commercial areas nearby.
In 1972 a large tract of land in central Mission's Ferndale area was developed by the federal government into two large penal facilities.
The West Coast Express train from Vancouver terminates in Mission. Trains depart Mission for Vancouver in the morning and return in the afternoon only.
Via Rail's The Canadian from Vancouver stops at Mission Harbour railway station. Service from Kamloops, Jasper, and points east stops across the river at Abbotsford.
The Central Fraser Valley Transit System serves Mission and Abbotsford. 7 seven routes run through Mission, all of which connect to the West Coast Express station. Route 31 connects Mission to Abbotsford. The cash fare is $2.25 ($1.75 for seniors) in 2018.
- Power House at Stave Falls, 31338 Dewdney Trunk Road, ☏ , fax: . Mar 15 - Oct 31: 10AM - 5PM; winter season by appointment. A preserved 1912-vintage hydoelectric power station, and other family-oriented exhibits on electric power and history. Set in a period building at the foot of Stave Lake. Hydroelectric power is a major factor in BC's economy, and this plant and its local outposts generate 205 MW. $6, youth and seniors $5.
- Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre, 35087 Lougheed Highway, ☏ , fax: . M-Sa 9AM - 4:30PM. Learn about Stó:lō spirituality, archaeology and history.
- 1 Westminster Abbey, 34224 Dewdney Trunk Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su 2PM-4PM, Weekdays 1:30PM-4PM. Part of the Seminary of Christ the King, Westminster Abbey is perched 180 m above the Fraser River. Bells ring 15 minutes before the 10AM Sunday mass. On a clear day the view stretches for miles to the east, south, and west. Benedictine monks run a monastery, seminary, college, and high school here. Tourist visits to the chapel welcomed at times given. Those who feel a religious calling can join one of the retreats there a few weekends a year. Free.
- Fraser River Safari, 7057 Mershon Street (on Harbour Ave on the Waterfront), ☏ . Year round river exploration. Jet boat tours of the Mighty Fraser, fully interpreted highlighting the incredible natural, cultural and historical values of the area. Designed for individuals or groups of any size. Available 7 days a week upon demand. Call to book your adventure.
- Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival (Third weekend of each November), Various locations in the valley, ☏ . The Fraser Valley has some of the most incredible wildlife viewing opportunities in BC. One highlight is the third largest gathering of bald eagles in North America. The festival celebrates the return of the eagles and consists of many sites from a green expo, boat tours,to nature walks. Visit the website to learn more.
- 1 The Junction Shopping Centre, 32555 London Ave, ☏ . 70 shops and services.
- Missions Antique Mall, 33173 1st Ave, ☏ .
- The Blackberry Kitchen, 7494 Mary St, ☏ . Panoramic views of the Fraser Valley and Mt. Baker. Breakfast, lunch or dinner the west coast log restaurant or on the patio. Fresh local ingredients. Starters $5-13, mains $18-29.
- Mission Station Grill, 7230 Horne Street, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Th Su 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. Burgers, steps, steaks, rice and noodle bowls, pasta.
- English Tarts, 33134 1st Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 8:30AM-4:30PM. Cafe and tea shop with freshly baked desserts, cake, pie, scones, sandwiches.
- Sushi Te, 32423 Lougheed Higway, ☏ . M W-Su 11:30AM-9:30PM. Sushi restaurant.
- Mission Springs Brewing Company, 7160 Oliver Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Restaurant: M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-10PM; pub Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. A 10-barrel brew house overlooking the Fraser River. This local pub offers the typical North American pub fare, including nachos, hamburgers and chicken wings. They have a selection of beers brewed on site, as well as craft their own root beer.
- [dead link] Best Western Plus Mission City Lodge, 32281 Lougheed Highway, ☏ , toll-free: . Rooms have coffee maker, microwave and refrigerator. Non-smoking hotel. Free high-speed Internet access and continental breakfast. From $115.
- Oasis Retreat Spa B&B, 11734 Allan Street, ☏ . Offers a wide range of spa services. From $149.
- Diamond Head Motor Inn. In Downtown Mission. Coffeemakers, wireless internet. Microwave and mini fridge are available upon request. Kitchenette and Suites available equipped with stove, oven, fridge, sink, microwave, pots, pans, and cutlery set. From $84.
- Kermode Wild Berry Winery tasting, 8457 River Rd South, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. summer: noon-8PM, winter: noon-6PM, daily. Wines made from the fruit native to the region, including a prize-winning Himalayan Blackberry Port. "Kermode" means "spirit bear", official animal of BC — the white variant of a black bear.
|Routes through Mission|
|Vancouver ← Maple Ridge ←||W E||→ Kent → Hope|
|END ←||N S||→ Abbotsford → Seattle|
|Vancouver ← Maple Ridge ←||W E||→ END|