Volkert Vedder and the trail to Hope

Volkert Vedder - one of the first pioneers of the Fraser Valley

Volkert Vedder – one of the first pioneers of the Fraser Valley

Volkert Vedder was one of the first pioneers in the Fraser Valley. The Vedder River and Vedder Mountain are both named in his honour.

Vedder was born in Schenectady, New York in 1808. Around 1830, he married Agnes Swart.  After his wife’s death in 1852, Vedder left New York for California. In 1856, Vedder came to the Fraser Valley with his two sons where he pre-empted 160 acres of land on the Vedder River, immediately north of the present settlement of Yarrow.  He later added to these holdings.

In 1860 he helped finance a pack bridge over the Coquihalla River near Hope. This bridge gave  access to the old (1849) brigade trail to Fort Colville and Kamloops, and to the newer (1858) east bank  trail up the Fraser River to Hills Bar and Yale; and a third trail up the Coquihalla and Boston Bar rivers  to Boston Bar.

In late December 1860, Vedder and two partners proposed to open the trail from Fort Hope to Chilliwack by “removing logs and other impediments so it is passable for animals for consideration of one hundred dollars.”

Assistant Gold Commissioner Peter O’Reilly approved the contract and the work was completed.

Four months later, on May 6, 1861, O’Reilly reported to the Colonial Secretary in Victoria:

“I have inspected the trail from the Chilwahook to Hope, which has recently been repaired by Mr.  Vedder. The trail is very wet and muddy caused by the passage of a number of mule trains from Sumas to Hope during the recent heavy rains, and in consequence of its sheltered position.”

A year later on May 31, Reilly again wrote to the Colonial Secretary:

“435 head of horses and mules have arrived at Hope via the Chilweyhook trail in the last month and have paid their [customs] duties here. The trail from Hope to Yale is in much need of repair. The steamer Moody arrived again this morning at  Hope, but could not proceed further.”

This trail was eventually used for the Collins Overland Telegraph.