Trethewey House was built in 1919 for B.C. lumber baron Joseph Ogle “J.O.” Trethewey. President of the Abbotsford Lumber Company, J.O. was responsible for leadership of the company during the company’s boom years in the 1920s.
The House is built in an “arts and crafts” style and is constructed using primarily local materials, making it distinct from other buildings of similar age within the City of Abbotsford. Trethewey House contains old-growth Abbotsford fir lumber (processed at the Trethewey mill on Mill Lake), and bricks and tile crafted from clay mined on Sumas Mountain (processed at Clayburn Village, B.C.’s first company town), representing two of Abbotsford’s most important early industries.
Trethewey House has undergone extensive restoration work and has been restored to c.1925 by the Heritage Abbotsford Society, with the help of local families and assistance from the Province of British Columbia through British Columbia Arts Council and Direct Access Gaming. Trethewey House was designated a municipal heritage site in 1983.
The Heritage Site
In addition to Trethewey House, Trethewey House Heritage Site also boasts several other buildings and features onsite, notably the Carriage House, Joey’s Playhouse, the Upper Sumas Train Station and the Sylvia Pincott Heritage Gardens.
Located next to Trethewey House is the Carriage House, a reproduction of an original building used to house the Trethewey family automobiles, Joey’s motorcycle and pony. The Carriage House is home to the Heritage Gallery, Heritage Abbotsford Society’s exhibition space, currently featuring the Legacies on the Lake exhibit. The building, along with Joey’s Playhouse, were rebuilt with the support of a BC Community Spirit Abbotsford 2000 grant funded by the Province of British Columbia and the MSA Museum Society (now Heritage Abbotsford Society). Today, Joey’s Playhouse serves as a one-room pioneer classroom.
The site also boasts the Upper Sumas British Columbia Electric Railway (“BCER”) station. Originally situated at the corner of Lamson and Vye Road on Sumas Prairie, the station was a stop along the Chilliwack Line which skirted the southern shore of Sumas Lake prior to drainage. Construction of the Chilliwack Line between New Westminster and Chilliwack concluded in 1910.
The Sylvia Pincott Heritage Garden was opened in 2002 and was named after local environmentalist Sylvia Pincott, founder of Abbotsford’s Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program and leading advocate for the establishment of the Naturescape program, a provincial initiative.
Heritage Abbotsford Society
Trethewey House Heritage Site is operated by the Heritage Abbotsford Society, a registered non-profit society that depends on government grants, private donations and fundraising efforts to provide services to the people of Abbotsford. The mission of the Society is to be the memory of the community by preserving and interpreting its history. Functions of this mandate are to preserve, study, and exhibit artifacts and archival material and to educate and entertain the public.
Originally founded as the Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford (MSA) Museum Society, the Society recently voted to rebrand as Heritage Abbotsford Society in April 2017.
Heritage Abbotsford Society leads various programs and activities aimed to engage and promote the City’s history and heritage to visitors and local residents of all ages, including the young and the young at heart. These include
- Trethewey House tours
- Walking tours of Mill Lake and Matsqui Village
- Heritage Fair program
- Storytime on the Porch speaker series
- Curator Talks
- Various special events for adults, children and families