A few years ago, I wrote about one of my favourite local places to go for an afternoon stroll. As an introduction, here is a link to my 2018 post about buildings of interest in this historic village: www.life-hues.com/historic-clayburn-village

Since little has been done officially to showcase British Columbia’s first company town, Clayburn Village remains a hidden treasure. This may be about to change. In January 2023, National Trust for Canada’s Next Great Save shortlisted Turner House as one of their top ten possibilities for a $50,000 heritage grant.

So why wasn’t this building in my earlier post?

Maple Grove Dairy farmhouse now known as Turner House

In the dark of night in 2018, a new building arrived in Clayburn Village. Or maybe I should say a very old building. Turner House is the only surviving house from the first stage of European settlement on Matsqui Prairie and is the oldest home in Abbotsford. It was constructed around 1875 for George Turner, a surveyor with the Royal Engineers. Fast forward almost 150 years. In order to preserve this important piece of BC heritage, the board and batten cottage was wrapped and moved onto the site of the original Clayburn Brick Works. One day when Clayburn Park is developed, Turner House will be a key feature.

Turner House Original Location
Image credit: Tretheway House Heritage Site
Turner House Moved to Clayburn Village
Turner House wrapped, protected and now in Clayburn Village

If you want to dig deeper, click through to this archive: www.tretheweyhouse.ca/about-us/turner-house

The Old Brick Factory

The Vancouver Fireclay Company, established 1905, built a brick factory on twenty acres near a creek that soon became known as Clay Burn. Between 1905 and 1908, the company town of Clayburn was erected to house the brickwork employees. In 1909, the reorganized company’s name changed to Clayburn Company Limited.

By 1930, all brick production had moved to the associated Kilgard plant, so the factory in Clayburn was dismantled. The remaining foundations, ghostly but fascinating reminders of an industrious past, are enclosed by a chain link fence and are fast being obscured by trees and underbrush.

The brickworks ruins protected by a chain link fence.
The ruins are disappearing beneath moss, ivy and blackberries.

I wonder if these ruins will be part of the imagined Clayburn Park development, and what such a reclamation might look like.

Prized Keepsakes

Broken bricks with the Clayburn imprint can still be seen throughout the surrounding woodland. In the village, it’s fun to search for walkways and other landscaping features that residents have made from intact bricks.

Discarded Clayburn Bricks

Floods and Other Worries

During the flood season, it’s not uncommon for Clayburn Road to be under water. Bring out the sandbags! Locals and friends of the village work tirelessly to protect buildings from the floodwaters.

The village is on the Sumas flats, built where the water table is no more than 1.5 feet below ground level. According to resident Cathy Carder, “Many of our homes were built without concrete foundations. The brick walls literally sit on dirt and float above the water table just a few feet below.” Vibrations from cars and trucks travelling faster than the posted speed of 30 km reach the water and cause movement under the houses, loosening the mortar and compromising the structural integrity of these historic homes.

… and a Popular Filming Location

Christmas in the middle of summer? Snow. Decorated spruce trees. White picket fences festooned with garlands. You never know what you’ll see in Clayburn Village when production companies are set up for filming. The General Store, Historic Clayburn School and Clayburn Church are all easily recognizable in a variety of shows and movies, particularly of the Hallmark type.