Predominantly a farming area on the western edge of the Fraser Valley and nestled at the feet of the Coast Mountains, the communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, often called Ridge Meadows, offer an abundance of outdoor opportunities. The area is fortunate to have Golden Ears Provincial Park, one of the largest provincial parks in British Columbia, and the mighty Fraser River, right on its doorstep, that provide adventure and fun for all ages. Other parks, lakes and rivers also entice locals and visitors to these communities. Horse riding, biking and hiking are popular with hundreds of kilometers of trails to choose from. Canoeing, water skiing, fishing, swimming and more can be found right in the Ridge Meadows area. Stunning championship golf courses, artisans, farm markets, and even sky diving are all here for the outdoor adventurer.
Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are located east of Vancouver. There are 3 major routes from Vancouver: Trans Canada Hwy 1; Hwy 7; and if coming from Vancouver International Airport, Hwy 17 and the Golden Ears Bridge. They are approximately 40 km (25 mi) from Vancouver. Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are separate communities but intrinsically connected by the street network, shopping and services that stretch some 15 km (10 mi) along Hwy 7. They are served by the local Pitt Meadows Airport and the much larger Abbotsford International Airport.
| Golden Ears Cheesecrafters. Photo: Rebecca Bollwitt via Flkr |
Take the self-guided Circle Farm Tour of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Part of a family of circle tours throughout the Fraser Valley you can spend one day or several exploring the whole valley. Visit farm-gate venues, events, markets, bistros and more. Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have several interesting places to visit including: Honeyland Canada where you can see interactive displays and learn about collecting honey from the bees as well as take a tour; Golden Ears Cheesecrafters make their own Artisan cheeses which you may sample before you buy, plus enjoy a delicious homemade lunch in their bistro or take in high tea; Blue Heron Fruit Winery which produces table and dessert wines made from their own blueberries, cranberries and strawberries. For a full list of participants download the Circle Farm Tour guide.
| View from Pitt Meadows Dike |
Surrounded by lakes, rivers and forests, this area offers many opportunities to bike and hike. The dikes along the Fraser River, Pitt River and the sloughs that were built many years ago to stop flooding of the land, all provide many kilometers of flat trails which is great for cyclists and walkers. Golden Ears Provincial Park has over 20 km (13 mi) of trails amid lakes and forest. If you venture further north in Pitt Meadows you will find about 17 km of trails in Grant Narrows Regional Park on Pitt Lake. The UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest located north in Maple Ridge offers some good hiking trails with trail maps available at the park gate. There are many other smaller parks to explore in the Ridge Meadows area.
| Horse Riding in Maple Ridge. Photo: Picture BC |
Horse riding is popular in the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows area with equestrian centres, riding stables and an abundance of trails to choose from. Several companies offer horseback trail riding tours which generally take riders to Golden Ears Provincial Park and/or Alouette River including Leghorn Ranch in Pitt Meadows and Equutrails in Maple Ridge.
Within this vast park is popular Alouette Lake which on warm days brings swimmers, boaters, water-skiers, windsurfers and canoers out to enjoy the cool water surrounded by stunning mountain views. Hikers and horse riders share many of the trails within Golden Ears Provincial Park, wildlife can often be spotted and anglers can enjoy fishing on one of the quieter lakes.
| Swaneset Golf Club, Pitt Meadows. Photo: Picture BC |
The verdant farmland, mountain scenery and access to water make for some excellent golf courses in this area. There are several 18-hole courses including the following three: in Pitt Meadows with stunning mountain views and rolling land is Swaneset with two Lee Trevino designed championship courses; close by is Golden Eagle which also has two championship courses; in Maple Ridge is Maple Ridge Golf Course, one of the oldest courses in the Fraser Valley and one that sits high above the Fraser River.
| Boating on Pitt Lake, Pitt Meadows. Photo: Picture BC |
With an abundance of lakes and rivers in the area, boaters and water sports enthusiasts have many choices. Alouette Lake in Golden Ears Provincial Park and Pitt Lake, which is the largest fresh water tidal lake in North America, are just two popular destinations.
Indigenous peoples inhabited the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows area over 1,000 years ago. They were known collectively as "Halkomelem" and lived predominantly off the land by farming and hunting and fishing in the Fraser River. Today, the Katzie Nation still reside here.
The first European to arrive was a British explorer, Captain James McMillan of the Hudson Bay Company, in 1824. He named the Pitt River, an arm of the Fraser River, and local lore suggests the name was inspired by British prime minister William Pitt the Younger. Settlers gradually arrived and by the mid-1870s some 50 or so families lived in the area. Logging and farming were the prime industries.
In 1858, Samuel Robertson, a carpenter who worked for the Hudson Bay Company arrived and stayed in what was called Albion, which is now a community of Maple Ridge. He planted fruit trees and was the first orchard not owned by the Hudson Bay. In 1859 John MacIvor, a pioneer, established a dairy farm further west and named the region Maple Ridge after the maples growing in the area.
The Fraser River was the main transportation corridor and flat bottomed sternwheelers plied the waters delivering produce and goods until the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in 1895.
| Olden Days at Haney House, Maple Ridge. Photo: Picture BC |
Maple Ridge was first incorporated in 1874 and included Pitt Meadows. Residents of Pitt Meadows lobbied to be removed from Maple Ridge in 1892 and it reverted to an unorganized territory. It was subsequently incorporated in 1914. After 1910 French Canadians and Japanese arrived and a group of Dutch farmers reclaimed some of the low-lying land in Pitt Meadows after World War II.
The Maple Ridge Museum is home to many artifacts from the early days and is housed in Haney House, named after Thomas Haney, an early settler who was Manager of the Port Haney Brick & Tile Company. The Pitt Meadows Museum is located in the old General Store and houses a remarkable collection of pioneer and agricultural artifacts. The building was Pitt Meadows' first post office and one of the town's earliest stores.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia