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The Development of Agassiz’s Dairy Industry

Black and white photograph of five men on a parade float pulled by a team of horses. There is a sign on the float, 1916 The Farmers Unite and form the Fraser Valley Milk Producers Assn. They are promoting Fraser Valley cheese, butter, and milk.

The Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association float for a parade, 1916.


By 1910, the eastern Fraser Valley was prospering. The success of local farms attracted more settlers, which in turn resulted in improved amenities and transportation methods between communities. The BC Electric Railway reached Chilliwack, ferries travelled between Agassiz and Rosedale, and with the help of the logging industry and the recreational draw of Harrison Hot Springs, the roads were improving.

With the success of the hay and corn crops in the early twentieth century, Agassiz farmers were able to support larger dairy herds. The first registered Holstein-Friesians, a breed that originated in the Netherlands and is known today as the world’s highest milk producer, came to the community in 1912. The milk collected by these farmers supported the ever-growing coastal cities within the Fraser River Valley.


Black and white photograph of men loading approximately 50 large milk cannisters onto a train. Cannisters are being loaded from a car in the foreground.

Men loading milk cannisters onto the train at the Agassiz CPR Station, 1930s.


Local farmer’s co-operatives also began to form around this time. These organizations ensured that a fair price was received for, and that all farms received equal representation of, their dairy products. A special train, the “milk train,” picked up the farmers’ milk from designated stations each day and transported it to Vancouver. Beginning in 1924 the Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association began to operate out of Chilliwack. The farmers stored milk in stainless steel cannisters that were placed on milk stands. Milk was picked up by truck from the Agassiz farms and delivered to the plant in Sardis across the Fraser River, from which it was further distributed.


Black and white photograph of a train at the Agassiz station with passengers waiting on a platform. A Harrison Hot Springs taxi is in the foreground.

Agassiz CPR station with train, passengers on platform, and Harrison Hot Springs taxi, 1933.