Abbotsford, British Columbia

Abbotsford is a Canadian city in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, adjacent to Metro Vancouver. It is the 5th largest municipality in British Columbia and the 37th largest in Canada, home to 128,940 people (2006). Its Census Metropolitan Area numbers 159,020 people (23rd largest in Canada in 2006).

Abbotsford is the third most ethnically diverse city in Canada, after Toronto and Vancouver. It is also home to Abbotsford International Airport, which serves as a reliever airport to Vancouver International Airport.

The municipality's southern boundary is the Canada-US border, which it shares with Whatcom County. In Canada, it is bordered by Langley to the west, Mission to the north, and Chilliwack to the east. Much of Abbotsford has dramatic views of Mount Baker, which is less than 100 km from the city. To the north, the southernmost Coast Mountains are visible.


The first stage in Abbotsford's colonial development occurred when the Royal Engineers surveyed the area in response to the Gold Rush along the Fraser River in 1858. This led to the building of Old Yale Road, the first transportation route to link the Fraser Valley. Settlement continued and butter, milk and tobacco were produced by the late 1860s. In 1889 former Royal Engineer John Cunningham Maclure applied for a crown grant to obtain the 160 acres that would become Abbotsford.

Maclure transferred the title to his son, John Charles Maclure, who then sold it to Robert Ward. Ward then filed a town site subdivision on 9 July, 1891. The Maclures named Abbotsford after a family friend Harry Abbott, the Western Superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Also, in 1891 the CPR built a railway line through the area that connected Mission with Sumas, Washington. This route was that of the rail connection between Seattle and Vancouver until the completion of the New Westminster rail bridge.

The Village of Abbotsford was incorporated in 1892. At that time Robert Ward sold many of the lots to private investors, however he sold off a significant portion to the Great Northern Railroad’s subsidiary company the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway.

British Columbia Electric Railway arrived soon after in 1910, ensuring a rapid rate of growth that has continued to this day. The most notable natural disaster to ever hit Abbotsford was a major flood in 1948.

1972 saw the amalgamation of the Village of Abbotsford and the District of Sumas in the District of Abbotsford. The District of Abbotsford amalgamated with the District of Matsqui in 1995 to become the City of Abbotsford.


The City of Abbotsford uses a Council-Manager system of local government. The current Mayor and Council were elected on November 19, 2005. The current mayor is George Ferguson. The Abbotsford flag and coat of arms are the same, featuring straight, diagonal crosses representing Abbotsford as at a "crossroads". At the centre is a strawberry blossom, symbolizing the local berry industry, and the Fraser River.

The flag of Abbotsford was originally blue in colour. The change to green was initiated in 1995 when the District of Abbotsford and the District of Matsqui amalgamated to create the City of Abbotsford.


Abbotsford is the third most ethnically diverse city in Canada. It now leads the country with the highest proportion of people of South Asian origin per capita, according to results from the 2006 census. It also contains a large German and Dutch population in addition to a large, associated religious community of Lutherans, Mennonite, Dutch Reformed and various fundamentalist denominations. There are also large components of the population of Scandinavian and Eastern and Southern European origins.

Abbotsford's largest religious group is Christian at 61.4% of the population, with associated Lutheran and other Protestant denominations and the Anabaptist (Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church) being the largest congregations. The next largest religious group are the Sikhs, comprising 13.4% of the population. The city contains the first Sikh temple built in Canada, which is also one of the oldest in North America.

The largest racial group is Caucasian, comprising approximately 79.6% of the population. This includes English, German, Canadian, Scottish, Dutch, Irish, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Polish, Danish and Spanish. (see table below)

The next largest racial group in Abbotsford is South Asian (countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) comprising 14.9% of the population. This is followed by East and Southeast Asian at 4.71% and Aboriginals at 2.2% of the population (3.4% of which includes Metis and indigenous peoples from other parts of Canada and the United States).

English is the primary language spoken, with 71.2% of the population having it as their first language. Punjabi is the second most spoken language.

23.8% of the city's population was born outside of Canada. Of that percentage, a majority is from South Asia, followed by groups from Southeast Asia, China, Korea and Latin America. In previous decades similar figures applied to the Mennonite population.

Quick Facts:

  • Population (2006 Estimate): 128,940
  • % Change (2001-2006): 7.2
  • Resident labour force (2001): 58,140
  • Dwellings (2006): 45,286
  • Area (km²): 359.36
  • Density (persons per km²) (2006): 344.7
  • Gross income of population (2002): $2,337,376,686
  • Average household income (2001): $56,165
  • Average individual income (2001): $26,794

Tables of ethnic groups

Ethnic Origin Population Percent of 156,640* Comments
Cornish 10 0.01%
English 42,190 26.93%
Irish 21,430 13.68%
Manx 40 0.03%
Scottish 28,695 18.32%
Welsh 3,665 2.34%
misc. British Isles, n.i.e.** 2,265 1.45%
Acadian 55 0.04%
French 13,725 8.76%
Inuit 50 0.03%
Métis 2,670 1.70%
North American Indian 5,335 3.41% incl. First Nations, Native Americans and Alaska Natives
American 2,320 1.48%
Canadian 30,415 19.42%
Newfoundlander 65 0.04%
Québécois 55 0.04%
Barbadian 15 0.01%
Carib 15 0.01%
Guyanese 20 0.01%
Haitian 135 0.09%
Jamaican 305 0.19%
Kittitian/Nevisian 10 0.01%
Puerto Rican 15 0.01%
St. Lucian 10 0.01%
Trinidadian/Tobagonian 95 0.06%
Vincentian/Grenadinian 15 0.01%
West Indian 35 0.02%
Caribbean, n.i.e.** 15 0.01%
Aboriginal from Central/South America 40 0.03%
Argentinian 35 0.02%
Belizian 20 0.01%
Brazilian 130 0.08%
Chilean 110 0.07%
Colombian 150 0.10%
Costa Rican 55 0.04%
Ecuadorian 10 0.01%
Guatemalan 85 0.05%
Hispanic 10 0.01%
Honduran people 25 0.02%
Maya 30 0.02%
Mexican 475 0.30%
Nicaraguan 35 0.02%
Panamanian 10 0.01%
Paraguayan 195 0.10%
Peruvian 10 0.01%
Salvadoran 540 0.35%
Venezuelan 65 0.04%
misc. Latin, Central or South American, n.i.e.** 160 0.01%
Austrian 1,500 1.00%
Belgian 620 0.40%
Dutch (Netherlands) 16,645 10.63% % not incl. Frisians or Flemish
Flemish 110 0.07%
Frisian 160 0.10%
German 32,580 20.80%
Swiss 1,215 0.78%
Finnish 1,210 0.77%
Danish 1,950 1.24%
Iceland 930 0.59%
Norwegian 4,715 3.01%
Swedish 4,240 2.71%
misc. Scandinavian, n.i.e.** 310 0.20% may include Sami and Kven
Estonian 175 0.11%
Latvian 40 0.03%
Lithuanian 130 0.08%
Byelorussian 70 0.05%
Czech 590 0.38%
Czechoslovakian 230 0.15%
Slovak 190 0.12%
Hungarian (Magyar) 2,150 1.37%
Polish 4,940 3.15%
Romanian 1,065 0.68%
Russian 7,420 4.73%
Ukrainian 8,090 5.16%
Albanian 135 0.09%
Bosnian 10 0.01%
Bulgarian 60 0.04%
Croatian 245 0.16%
Greek 655 0.42%
Italian 3,675 2.35%
Kosovar 25 0.02%
Macedonian 45 0.03%
Maltese 55 0.04%
Portuguese 745 0.48%
Serbian 100 0.08%
Sicilian 10 0.01%
Slovenian 125 0.08%
Spanish 1,600 1.02%
Yugoslav, n.i.e.** 290 0.19%
Basque 10 0.01%
Gypsy (Roma) 35 0.02%
Jewish 510 0.33%
misc. Slav (European) 40 0.03%
misc. European, n.i.e.** 260 0.17%
Afrikaner 25 0.02%
Bantu 10 0.01%
Black 140 0.09%
Congolese (Zairian) 20 0.01%
Congolese, n.o.s.*** 15 0.01%
Dinka 40 0.03%
Ethiopian 10 0.01%
Ghanaian 50 0.03%
Kenyan 35 0.02%
Mauritian 20 0.01%
Nigerian 50 0.03%
South African 415 0.26%
Sudanese 20 0.01%
Tanzanian 15 0.01%
misc. African, n.i.e.** 130 0.08%

Egyptian 25 0.02%
Iraqi 15 0.01%
Lebanese 85 0.05%
Maghrebi origins 10 0.01%
Palestinian 65 0.04%
Syrian 50 0.03%
misc. Arab, n.i.e. 75 0.05%
Afghan 50 0.03%
Iranian 185 0.12%
Israeli 15 0.01%
Kurd 35 0.02%
Tatar 10 0.01%
Turk 120 0.08%

East Indian 23,445 16.47%
Goan 15 0.01%
Nepali 45 0.03%
Pakistani 195 0.12%
Punjabi 2,040 1.30%
Sri Lankan 50 0.03%
Tamil 10 0.01%
misc. South Asian, n.i.e.** 820 0.52%
Cambodian 50 0.03%
Chinese 2,585 1.65%
Filipino 740 0.47%
Indonesian 205 0.13%
Japanese 890 0.57%
Korean 1,665 1.06%
Laotian 240 0.15%
Malaysian 50 0.03%
Taiwanese 75 0.05%
Thai 100 0.06%
Vietnamese 1,150 0.73%
East or Southeast Asian, n.i.e.** 85 0.05%
Australian 265 0.17%
New Zealander 145 0.09%

Fijian 100 0.06%
Hawaiian 50 0.03%
Samoan 10 0.01%
*Percentages total more than 100% due to multiple responses, e.g. German-East Indian, Norwegian-Irish-Polish
**'not included elsewhere.'
***'not otherwise specified.'

Ethnic Origin by Regional grouping Population Percent of 156,640
British Isles origins 65,495 41.81%
French origins1 13,745 8.77%
Aboriginal origins2 7,860 5.02%
Other North American origins3 31,870 20.34%
Caribbean origins 665 0.43%
Latin, Central and South American origins4 2,070 1.32%
Western European origins5 46,395 29.62%
Northern European origins6 12,140 7.75%
Eastern European origin7 21,765 13.89%
Southern European origins 7,470 4.77%
Other European origins8 840 00.54%
African origins9 990 0.63%
Arab origins10 320 0.20%
West Asian origins11 410 00.26%
South Asian origins 25,800 16.47%
East and Southeast Asian origins 7,375 4.71%
Oceania origins12 565 0.36%

footnotes to Ethnic Origin by Regional grouping
1Census Canada does not distinguish between European and North American French origins. This category includes Acadians; Québécois-only (not multiple responses) are in North American origins.
2>Métis, First Nations, Inuit, Native Americans, Alaska Natives
3American, Canadian, Québécois, Newfoundlander, does not include aboriginal peoples
4incl. aboriginal people of South and Central America
5Germany, Austria, Benelux, Switzerland
6Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland
7Slavic and Baltic countries, plus Hungary and Albania
8Roma (Gypsy), Jewish, Basque, misc. Slav
9excluding Arab countries of the Maghreb, including Afrikaners and other white South Africans
10including the Maghreb/North Africa
11Afghan, Iranian, Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Turkish, Georgian, Armenian
12Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand


Approximately 92% of employed residents work in the city or in neighbouring communities. Agriculture is Abbotsford's main industry, followed closely by transportation, manufacturing and retail. There is also a small, but growing aerospace industry led by Conair Group Inc., and Cascade Aerospace. Abbotsford also is home to three federal prisons, each of which employs between 200 and 500 officers and support staff.


Public elementary, middle, and secondary schools are administered by School District 34 Abbotsford.

Post Secondary institutions in the city include the University of the Fraser Valley, two religious institutions: Columbia Bible College and Summit Pacific College, as well as career colleges such as Sprott Shaw Community College, Vancouver Community College, CTC Changes Training Centre and CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care.

There is also a virtual school called "Abbotsford Virtual School" that offers more than 30 semestered online courses. This school offers a unique Animation and Modeling program that teaches students aspects of the video gaming industry.


The City of Abbotsford has its own municipal police force. The Abbotsford Police Department is one of eleven other municipal police forces in British Columbia. It was officially formed in 1995 when Matsqui and Abbotsford amalgamated to become the City of Abbotsford. Prior to the amalgamation, Matsqui was patrolled by the Matsqui Police and Abbotsford by the RCMP. During the referendum citizens elected to keep a municipal police force.

As of 2006, the Abbotsford Police Department employs nearly 200 officers and 80 civilian employees. It is the third largest municipal police force in British Columbia (behind Vancouver and Victoria).

As of July 20, 2006, the Abbotsford metropolitan area (which includes Mission) has the highest property crime rate and the second highest violent crime rate for cities with a population of 100,000 to 500,000 in Canada.


Abbotsford is served by a regional transit system (ValleyMAX) operated by Township Transit Inc., with funding from the City of Abbotsford and the District of Mission. Major transportation routes leading into Abbotsford are the Trans-Canada Highway (#1), Abbotsford-Mission Highway (#11), and the Fraser Highway (#1A). Access to the United States is via the Huntingdon border crossing.

Abbotsford is served by the Abbotsford International Airport, located in the southern part of the municipality. It is one of the fastest growing commercial airports in western Canada, and acts as a reliever airport for Vancouver International Airport. WestJet provides regular scheduled service from the airport, due to its close proximity to Vancouver's eastern suburbs. The airport is also the home of the annual Abbotsford International Airshow.


Abbotsford's Jane and Gerry Swan Track at Rotary Stadium is home to the Valley Royals Track & Field Club, who have produced numerous Olympians including two for the 2008 Olympics. Rotary Stadium is also home to the Canadian Junior Football League's Abbotsford Air Force; however, the Air Force fell into non-playing status for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

The Abbotsford Pilots of the Pacific International Junior Hockey League (Junior B level) play at MSA Arena, which is Abbotsford's largest arena at just over 400 seats. Abbotsford was considered as a possible home for the Chilliwack Chiefs (Junior A), who were forced to move in 2006 when the Chilliwack Bruins (a WHL expansion team) took over their arena, Prospera Centre. Abbotsford would have become the home of the Chiefs if the city had supported them in building a new arena; instead, the Chiefs moved to Langley. Ironically, construction has now started in Abbotsford on a far bigger sports & entertainment centre (with 7,500 seats).

Abbotsford Minor Hockey is one of the largest associations in British Columbia with more than 1000 players registered from the ages of 5 through 18 years old. This association is recognized by many as a model and a leader in the development of minor hockey programs, and several Abbotsford-raised players have gone on to the highest levels of this sport. In the 2005-2006 hockey season, Abbotsford's Bantam AAA team were ultimately the Western Canadian Bantam Champions, and eight individual players from this team (the most ever) were selected in the 2006 WHL Bantam Draft. ( )

Abbotsford has a superior Youth soccer program, winning 2 national titles, and numerous provincial titles. It is also home of soccer all stars Sophie Schmidt and Brad Petoom. Abbotsford is home to the Abbotsford Rangers of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League, the highest level of amateur soccer in North America.

Abbotsford is home to many high school sports, with Abbotsford Collegiate, W.J. Mouat Secondary, Rick Hansen Secondary, Robert Bateman Secondary, Yale Secondary, and the Mennonite Educational Institute, among others, doing very well in track and field, volleyball, basketball, and football. These schools have consistently ranked among the highest in the province. The Yale Secondary Senior Boys Basketball Team, under Coah Al Friesen, won the 2008 TELUS BC Boys ‘AAA’ Provincial Championship.

Abbotsford's rugby club supports three men's teams, two women's teams, U19 men's and women's, U15 U16 and U17 men's, and a great mini rugby program. Many of Abbotsford's players have gone on to play for Canada, such as Erin Lockwood, Ryan McWhinney, Scott Hunter, Bryn Keys, and Brodie Henderson (



West Abotsford, Central Abbotsford, East Abbotsford, Sumas Mountain, Sumas Prairie, Poplar, Matsqui, Bradner, Aberdeen,

Neighbouring cities and towns

  North: Mission,Fraser Valley H  
West: Langley Township
Abbotsford completely surrounds Upper Sumas 6
East: Chilliwack, Fraser Valley E, Yarrow
  South: Sumas, Washington  

Notable Residents

Sister cities


External links

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