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Mid Century Chilliwack

posted by: The Royal Hotel Chilliwack on: October 30, 2018 11:45:39 AM

While there are varying definitions as to when “mid-century” was, generally it is the period after WW2, so roughly 1945-1965.
The end of World War 2 was a period of optimism and growth in Canada and Chilliwack was no exception. This contributed to a steady rise in population and according to Statistics Canada; our nation underwent a sharp population increase from 1946 to 2006, growing from 12.3 to 32.6 million. These figures reflect large scale immigration that occurred in Canada after the Second World War. Many new residents arrived from Europe coupled with returning veterans that were starting families.

Census Canada’s figures for Chilliwack indicate the population more than doubled in the twenty year period from 1931 to 1951 with an increase from 8263 residents in 1931 to 19,340 in 1951.

Chilliwack Progress, Nov. 22, 1950

After the Second World War Canada’s economy was also on the upswing as exports of raw material increased and major infrastructure projects were undertaken including the opening of the Trans-Canada Highway transportation corridor in 1962. In addition, the St. Lawrence Seaway, a major engineering feat, was completed in 1959.
With an increased pool of skilled workers contributing to the labour force and the advent of new technology, Canada’s economic future was strong.

Chilliwack Progress, June 23, 1948
The positive growth postWW2 also created a demand for new housing and civic buildings.
Libraries, post offices, court houses, churches and schools were built as a result. In Chilliwack’s downtown core, Fire Hall #1, the Paramount Theatre, the Library, (all c.1949) and the Court House (c.1952) are examples of public buildings that were built during this period.

C. 1949 Library on Wellington Avenue

Fire Hall #1 opens in 1949

But why should we care about buildings that are only 50 or so years old? Heritage conservation has concentrated on preserving buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Sure, these historic buildings are a symbol of our past and worth saving however many of Chilliwack’s buildings come from the post-WW2 era and represent a time of vitality and optimism in both our city and the country. These mid-century buildings are an important part of Chilliwack’s history and remain the least understood and perhaps the most vulnerable in our community.
If we don’t take the time to understand the value of mid-century buildings and make efforts to preserve them, we risk erasing a layer of Chilliwack’s recent history.

file:///C:/Users/FrontDesk/Downloads/BC%20Municipal%20Census%20Populations%201921-2011.pdf  Census of Canada
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