Chilliwack, BC, incorporated as a city in 1999, population 77,936 (2011c), 69,217 (2006c).
Chilliwack, BC, incorporated as a city in 1999, population 77,936 (2011c), 69,217 (2006c). The City of Chilliwack is located 100 km east of Vancouver on the south shore of the Fraser River. It is governed by a mayor and six councillors elected for three-year terms. The name is derived from the Halkomelem language and is commonly thought to mean "valley of many streams" but may mean "the head," referring to the head of the valley.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago, the Stó:lo of the Central Coast Salish first arrived in the area. At the time of first contact, it is estimated there may have been as many as 30,000 inhabitants in the region. By the 1860s, a handful of farms existed in the area. When incorporated in 1873, the township of Chilliwhack was the third oldest in British Columbia. Its townsite was originally known as Five Corners. In 1881, a large subdivision called Centreville was developed; it was incorporated as a city in 1908 and renamed Chilliwack (without the second "h" as in the former township's name). The township and city were reunited in 1980 to form the district municipality of Chilliwack. The district municipality became a city in 1999. The Chilliwack Museum is located in the old city hall (1912), now a national historic site (designated in 1984).
Agriculture is the leading resource sector in Chilliwack; much of the milk and dairy products consumed in the lower mainland originates here. Manufacturing is focused on farm products or inputs and, in the eastern half of the city, on logging. A Canadian Forces base at Vedder Crossing (10 km south) had a large military and civilian payroll before it was closed in the 1990s. The base is being transformed into the Canada Education Park for education and research, including a new campus for the University of the Fraser Valley.
The tourism industry, particularly in the Cultus Lake area to the south, also supports the local economy. Although too far from Vancouver for most commuters, the area's reasonably priced land has prompted considerable residential development.