Do you ever find yourself jumping into your vehicle on a Saturday morning with a plan to go somewhere but end up at a completely different place than you intended, perhaps one that’s super amazing and you didn’t even know existed prior to arriving there? That’s what happened when I came across the Kilby Historic Site on a recent drive.
The original plan I had was to head to Harrison Lake and go fishing but as I took the exit off Highway 1 past Chilliwack and headed towards the town of Harrison Hot Springs the smoke from the wildfire (which I understand has now been contained) reminded me that it might be a bit hairy out that way, so I decided to explore elsewhere.
I decided to take the old Highway 7 – Lougheed Highway, as it were – all the way back to the city and see what I could find. The first thing? These cows next to the road in Agassiz. Clearly they could tell I wasn’t from around these parts.
The next town I hit was Harrison Mills, one I’d never been to before. I decided to dip off the highway and explore a bit, and I kept seeing signs for a place called Kilby. “Kilby Historic Site” was on one, and that piqued my interest to follow the signs. I ended up pulling my Toyota Highlander Hybrid up to the 1920’s fuel pumps and oil shed pictured below, where gas was being advertised at a little over 17 cents/gallon! I get great mileage in my vehicle but this was ridiculous – and obviously not the actual price but part of the museum, offering a look back into the 1920s when this place was home to a working farm, general store and more. Those things all still exist here, but now as part of a historic site where costumed interpreters answer questions and offer insight as you’re doing a self-guided tour (admission is $10).
The main attraction of the place is the general store. Officially opened in 1906 by the Kilby family, it ran like most general stores did back in the day; the family lived in the back and the store was in the front. The store was actually open all the way until 1977 and 80% of the artifacts that you see on the shelves were actual products that were once on the shelves here, collected by the Kilbys almost to the point of hoarding… really, really interesting hoarding as you could spend all day staring at the products on the shelves.
The family ran the local post office out of the store, and being located next to the train tracks and at a train stop was helpful in this regard. They also would sometimes take in boarders as the house is quite large, and the photo on the right below here is of one of the boarding rooms. I arrived at the place just as they were about to close so they let me explore all by myself, and I can say without a doubt that THIS ROOM IS TOTALLY HAUNTED. Not just because there’s a mannequin in the bed with an old school wheelchair sitting next to it, and the floorboards were creaky. Okay okay, only for those reasons. Ha!
They still keep a number of animals on the property. Pigs, chickens, sheep and goats are all treated well, and petted by more than a couple people a day.
At the back of the property is what they call the Farm Implement Shed, and it’s full of all sorts of rusting tools and… well… implements. There are a number of other buildings to explore on the property, and an old timey restaurant to eat at, but as I said I was there late in the day, so this was where I ended my visit. I will be back again though, as they do a number of different events throughout the year. Coming up is their August Harvest Exhibition and they apparently do things up pretty good for Thanksgiving and Halloween.
Driving the Lougheed Highway back into Vancouver from isn’t as interesting as puttering your way around the Kilby Historic Site, but it’s always cool to go down roads you’ve never travelled. Sometimes the buildings say “HI” to you…
Sometimes the interesting signage isn’t exactly truthful…
And sometimes (often) it harkens to a time that may not be as far back as the 1920s like Kilby, but still interesting and retro nonetheless…