Programs & Educational Resources 

Any one of the programs below can be delivered as part of a Voices of the Valley tour at The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford or in-class. Regular program rates apply and they need to be booked through our Curator of Learning and Community Engagement, Cara Tremain (

Explore Local History through Collage: Semá:th Xόtsa (Sumas Lake) and Sumas Prairie

Self-guided activity: Try your hand at collage while learning about Semá:th Xόtsa (Sumas Lake, pronounced seMATH hOTsa). Inspired by our permanent museum exhibition Voices of the Valley, this fun and educational self-guided activity uses photographs from The Reach Gallery Museum archives.

Don’t forget to share your very own #localhistorycollage with us @thereachgallery

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Land Beneath the Lake

Presentation / Workshop Land Beneath the Lake explores the Sema:th peoples’ connection to Sumas Lake, early exploration and settlement of Sumas Prairie and discusses the lasting outcomes of drainage of the lake during the 1920s.

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Activity Following the presentation students debate whether To Drain or Not to Drain? Students are asked to research then defend one of the multiple perspectives that relate to the Sumas Drainage Project:  Indigenous rights; settler interests; economic value; environmental concerns.

Transitions:  Continuity + Change in Abbotsford

Presentation Historians study what things have changed, or continued, over time and try to explain the reasons for the changes. Transitions looks at then and now photos of Abbotsford and examines what events prompted the changes.

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Activity Select a “then” photo from The Reach online collections database  then locate the site of the photo on Google maps and capture a “now” photo. Compare the differences and conjecture what might have prompted the change.

What’s in a Name?

Presentation If John Maclure subdivided the Village of Abbotsford, why don’t we call it “Maclureberg”? What’s in a Name traces contemporary place names back to explore the history of local places, people and events.

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  • Research the name originally given to an Abbotsford location by the Stó:lō people and add the name to a contemporary map of Abbotsford.
  • Draw a map of your neighbourhood and assign new street or park names that have significant meaning to you. Share your history stories with the class.
  • Research new street names for areas under development and submit them to the City of Abbotsford

Junior Curators

Workshop You can be the curator (caretaker) of your family’s history. Participants learn how to handle and care for objects, photographs and family records and how to document the valuable family stories that make mere objects into priceless heirlooms.

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Pre-visit activity

  • Identify a family heirloom.
  • Ask a parent or grandparent why the object is cherished by your family. (How old is the object? Who originally owned it? What was it used for?)

Face of Abbotsford

Presentation Who is the face of Abbotsford? Learn about the cultural groups that have made Abbotsford the multicultural city it is today:  the reasons for leaving a homeland behind and the challenges faced by newcomers making a new home in Abbotsford.

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Pre-visit activity  During the development of Face of Abbotsford, the art piece created by Desneige Meyer for The Reach’s opening exhibition, the community was invited to nominate people they thought should be The Face of Abbotsford.

  • Who would students nominate to be the Face of Abbotsford? Why?
  • Draw, sculpt or collage a Face of Abbotsford.

Did You Know…?

Presentation Fabulous but significant little known facts and stories about Abbotsford’s history!

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Activity Test your research and interview skills! Try to discover a “Did You Know?” fact of your own and share with the class to see who did know!

River’s Fury

Presentation In May 1948 the Fraser River burrowed through its dyke and onto Matsqui and Sumas Prairies. River’s Fury tells the stories of how the community prepared for the worst, responded when it came and united to recover from it.

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  • Do students live on one of Abbotsford’s flood plains? What should you know in the event of a flood? See the City of Abbotsford flood preparation website
  • Invite someone who lived through the 1948 flood to the classroom to share their stories.

People of the Land

Presentation Abbotsford’s early economy was based on the natural resources it had to offer:  the forests that covered it and the clay beneath it. People of the Land looks at the settlement early industry attracted and the transition from forest to farmland – the basis of Abbotsford’s current economy.

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  • Forestry Whatsits – students are asked to identify and elaborate on the use of early forestry equipment. Conjecture followed by research to confirm their ideas.
  • Help Wanted – students draft an advertisement to draw international workers to Abbotsford

Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without

Presentation Whether for reasons of affordability or availability – especially during wartime – people have practiced strategies to re-use, recycle and re-purpose. Using objects from The Reach artefact collection Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do or Do Without shares examples of pioneer frugality, ingenuity and creativity.

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Activity Participants create an art project using recycled materials or upcycle an obsolete item.