Mission is a district municipality in British Columbia. Sometimes referred to as the jewel of the valley, it’s the 23rd largest minicipality in the province, with a population of 38,833 (2016). It is located on the north bank of the Fraser River, and overlooks the City of Abbotsford. Mission was incorporated in 1892. At the time the only connection with Matsqui and Abbotsford was the swing-span Mission Railway Bridge. The rail bridge doubled as a one-way alternating vehicular bridge until 1973.
The town of Mission began with the Great Land Sale of 1891, in which the core commercial properties and residential streets were auctioned off. Buyers arrived by CPR Rail from Vancouver, and Eastern Canada to bid on the properties. Another interesting historical note is that Mission was the site of Canada’s first train robbery, carried out September 10th, 1904, shortly after CPR train No. 1 left Mission Junction. Billy Miner, and his two accomplices took between $6,000 and $7,000 dollars worth of gold dust, $914.37 in cash, and an $80,000 dollar bond. The ‘Grey Fox’ was apprehended in 1905, sentenced to prison, but escaped in less than a year.
In the early 1900’s berry farming was the primary industry in Mission. In 1946, the municipality began hosting an annual Strawberry Festival, on a recommendation from the Board of Trade. During the war, Japanese workers were relocated, and then there was a devastating flood in 1948. Agriculture suffered, and today Abbotsford holds the distinction of being Canada’s berry capital. There was a shift towards logging and tree farming, and the strawberry theme was abandoned.
Mission became know as one of theworld’s largest suppliers of red cedar shakes and shingles. Most of Mission’s northern and northwestern mountainous forests make up a tree farm. Covering more than 40% of the district’s land, the tree farm has served as a model for silvicultural management on a larger scale, and has provided a source of revenue for the municipality since 1958.
Mission has an oceanic climate with mild winters and warm summers. The average January temperature is 3°C, with a July average of 17°C. Average rainfall is 2,387 mm, with 130cm snowfall.
Mission’s unemployment rate is 5.6%, below that of the province, at 6.0% (2016). The median household income is $65,411 (CDN). The median age is 39, making Mission a young population. 23.5% are 14 years and under, 20.8% are 15 – 34, and 5.2% are 75 years and older.