VISITING KENT HERITAGE
In the early mid-1800s, new settlers’ quest for gold and fertile farmlands attracted thousands of people to British Columbia. Europeans first came through the Agassiz area en route to the Fraser Canyon during the gold rush of 1858. In the late 1860s, the first families to settle in the region were T.B. Hicks and the famous Agassiz family. The first commerce took place along the Harrison River between the Hudson's Bay Company and the local natives. Soon after, rapid development of organized commercial centres materialized, and paddle-wheelers filled the Fraser River which served as the region's lifeline for trade and commerce.
In 1889, what is now the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre was established by the House of Commons as one of the first five experimental farms in Canada. The facility was created to assist new settlers in overcoming their unfamiliarity with the local soil and climate, choosing the best crops and learning new adequate farming methods. The Agassiz research centre attracted new residents to the area and made significant contribution towards Canada’s scientific research in agriculture.
With the arrival of the first Canadian Pacific Railway train in 1895, the Upper Fraser Valley saw its newest community emerge and the District of Kent soon enjoyed even greater economic impact on trade and prosperity.
The primary economic activity within the immediate area has been traditionally that of agriculture and forestry. This development is easily explained as a result of the ease with which the fertile terrain could be cleared and cultivated for bountiful harvests. The economy of the District's area began to diversify during the early part of the 1900s. Road construction became a major economic generator from 1901 to 1940. In 1926, the completion of the bridge over the Harrison River provided the first road connection to areas west of Kent. These road improvements brought major urban areas within close reach of the District and helped to establish Agassiz as a market-oriented agricultural town. The 1948 Fraser River flood brought a devastating end to hop production in the District. Then, corn became the new major crop in the area and Agassiz soon became known as the "Corn Capital of British Columbia."
The opening of Mountain Institution in 1962 and Kent Institution in 1979 further diversified the local economy and provided an additional source of employment for the local community. To this day, the Correctional Service of Canada remains as one of the largest local industry and a major employer in the District of Kent.
The District of Kent's commercial centre of Agassiz offers the basic necessities for every day living and includes a wide variety of small town shopping amenities. The conveniences of a small town enables you to park anywhere in the town centre and walk no further than a few hundred metres to reach every business door from retail, service, food and entertainment. You will enjoy it here!
Situated on the periphery of the Lower Mainland area, the District of Kent has experienced a sustained population growth during the last ten years. As commercial, industrial, and population expansion has take place throughout the entire south-western portion of BC, the impact of these activities is being reflected within the District.
The combined elements of local access to major transportation routes and the availability of a 'Country Lifestyle' have proven to be strong incentives for people to establish themselves within the area. Many of the local citizens enjoy the outstanding cultural, entertainment, and sporting events offered within the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, however, the biggest attraction here is the supernatural beauty of the Upper Fraser Valley to be explored and enjoyed by all.