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First Hops, Then Corn

Black and white photograph of children and adults working in a hop yard. Full crates of hops are in the foreground and background.

Pickers working in an Agassiz hop yard, 1930s.


Hops were first grown in the Agassiz-Harrison Valley in 1892. They became and remained the prominent local crop until the Fraser River Flood of May 1948. Between 1939 and 1945, 300 acres were in production with 450 acreage holdings. Hop shipments were sent across Canada and to England.

The hop harvest usually began in August and carried into October. At least one thousand pickers were required each year, many of whom travelled to Agassiz for this seasonal work and lived in cabins or tents at the hop yards. All of the members of the Agassiz and Harrison communities, which included, Chinese, Euro-Canadian, First Nation, Japanese, and Mennonite families, worked together to ensure that the harvest was a success.


Colour photograph of a hop field. The hops grow vertically up a string tied to a wire.

Agassiz hop field, 2018.


Following the devastation of the crops in 1948 from the flooding of the Fraser River, the hop yards were sold. Dairy farmers have primarily occupied these acres for the past seven decades. Hay and corn fields have replaced the hops to support the ever-expanding District of Kent dairy industry.

With the rise of local craft breweries, such as Old Yale Brewing and Chaos & Solace Craft Brewing Company in Chilliwack and Field House Brewing Company and Ravens Brewing Company in Abbotsford, hops are once again being grown in the Agassiz-Harrison Valley. While the corn fields still currently outnumber the hop fields, the over 100 craft breweries in the province are demanding more hops to quench the thirst of British Columbians and visitors alike. We will likely see more hop fields in the District of Kent in the near future, and we will also be entertaining those following The BC Ale Trail.