Turner House

Abbotsford, BC

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Preserving your past, protecting our future: Help us restore Turner House!

Why vote for us?

A vote for Turner House funds the preservation and restoration of this well-documented piece of early settler history. It supports a unique opportunity to tell important stories through the web of connections this house had to people and places at a critical time in BC’s history. It makes local the TRC’s Calls to Action by bringing Indigenous experiences at the turn of the 19th century into the conversation of built settler history.

Our vision is to turn this 145-year-old home into a centre for community – a place for people to attend lectures and workshops, learn at-risk heritage crafts, and to see preservation work and public archaeology in action. Adapting and reusing historic buildings has a smaller carbon footprint than building new, and we plan on making our restoration a sustainable one. A vote for Turner House is a vote to build a greener, more inclusive, and culturally richer Abbotsford.

Community impact

If you’ve ever tried to learn hands-on heritage preservation in BC, you’ll know that there are very few places to do so. The lack of learning opportunities leads to a loss of heritage resources and skills in local communities. Those wishing to work in heritage often end up moving to areas that offer this education and skill-building, and where careers are available. In the meantime, significant places like Turner House remain unprotected and unrestored while less sustainable new builds pop up and cause urban sprawl. It doesn’t have to be this way!

We plan to use the Turner House restoration project as a lab where we can collaborate with the University of the Fraser Valley, the Peace and Reconciliation Centre, and the Fraser Valley Métis Association to provide missing local educational opportunities. Want to learn how to restore an old window? Let’s do it! How do you recreate historic wallpaper? Come visit us! Or do you perhaps know how to make a cedar basket? Let us provide a free space where you can pass on that important skill. In return for your vote, our community will get a restored, sustainable heritage building where everyone can teach and learn.

About this place

Turner House is a small Arts & Crafts-style home constructed between 1873 and 1875. It’s the only surviving house from the first phase of European settlement on Matsqui Prairie. The home is named for George Turner, a surveyor with the Columbia attachment of the Royal Engineers (1858-63), and one of the area’s earliest European settlers. Turner was an important early surveyor and surveyed a road that ran from the steamboat landing on the Fraser River to Turner House, which still exists as Riverside Road. We know from Royal Engineer Alben Hawkins’ diaries that the builders were Royal Engineers and named Indigenous individuals from the neighbouring reserve, some of whom went on to establish their own communities in the area.

The building is also highly representative of a very early farm in the local area. Between 1886 and 1888, the farm was home to the Maple Grove Dairy Company, one of Abbotsford’s first cooperatively owned farms. Alex Cruikshank, whose family moved into Turner House in 1888, was instrumental in bringing Scandinavian settlers to what became Matsqui Village. His son George, served as a reeve of Matsqui and as a liberal MP.

Ecclesiastical Insurance is deeply committed to protecting the needs of organizations that enrich the lives of others; to preserving Canada’s distinct communities, cultures and history; and to supporting initiatives that help improve the lives of people in need. The National Trust for Canada has a long-standing relationship with Ecclesiastical Insurance – our most faithful sponsor – and we are excited to work with them to help fund the Next Great Save!


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