Local history buffs will soon be able to join Heritage Abbotsford Society’s new placemaking project, Stories to Spaces: Local Community Places.
The aim is to create an online archive of local stories around culturally significant places, along with an interactive online map, wayfaring signs, and digital plaques to further commemorate the physical spaces and the stories associated with them.
Natalia Deros, program manager at Heritage Abbotsford, said placemaking is created when residents come together to identify the places that hold cultural significance in their communities, and to celebrate those stories.
“Abbotsford is home to many culturally significant places, and the rich and diverse stories associated with them deserve to be told before the knowledge disappears,” she said.
Deros designed the project to launch in 2020 to mark the 25th anniversary of the amalgamation of Abbotsford and Matsqui.
The project also ties into the society’s new mission statement: “To collect, record, preserve, and share the stories of Abbotsford.”
“Places create a sense of belonging, and a shared understanding of the history we hold as a community,” Deros said.
“For example, not many people know about the tiny little shack which sits off of Downes Road. It was Abbotsford’s first Buddhist temple, and was built by the local Japanese-Canadians in the early 1900s.
“Telling the story of the temple commemorates the stories of those families who lived and worked here before they were forced into internment in 1942. It also highlights the values we all need to develop in making Abbotsford an inclusive home for all.”
Culturally significant heritage sites can include manmade spiritual sites, natural spiritual sites, places associated with significant life stages (birth, coming of age, marriage and death), family homes, sites where a built landmark no longer exists, natural features with cultural meaning, local landmarks, agricultural sites, and more.
The sites which are submitted to the society will be highlighted on social media and the society’s website weekly, and the stories and any photos will be recorded for posterity and inducted into the society’s archives.
For more information, visit heritageabbotsford.ca or contact Deros at HAS@heritageabbotsford.ca.