The Last Time The Fraser River Froze Over

Culture
Fraser River Frozen
Fraser River Frozen

New Westminster Archives

We’ve been experiencing a cold snap the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 30 years. Yet if we look back further in time, it wasn’t too long ago that BC’s longest river was frozen almost solid. While it’s not uncommon for ice to float down the Fraser River in winter, the Fraser River used to freeze over so that people could not only walk across it but even skate and play hockey across its smooth surface.

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These extraordinary photographs from New Westminster Archives capture a day in the 1920s.

Fraser River Frozen

New Westminster Archives

New Westminster Archives

New Westminster Archives

Against the backdrop of the New Westminster Bridge in the distance, you can see nonchalent groups of Canadians chilling out. In fact, these early western Canadians are proof that once we in the Lower Mainland used to take snow days without so much as batting an eye, easily trading our umbrellas for hockey skates. In fact, we can rely on the old school mode of transport, the river, not only as an express highway but also a skating rink. Who says snow days have to be stay-at-home days?

New Westminster Archives

New Westminster Archives

Back in the early 20th century, it was easier for the Fraser to freeze since New Westminster wasn’t a heavily populated city. But the people that did live there sure made the most of their situation. We can only imagine what it must have felt like to play without pay on the natural ice. But what were the ladies getting up to during the snow day?

New Westminster Archives

New Westminster Archives

In one photograph, there are women exploring the frozen terrain and making sure they got in some great shots in the process. Dressed in fur coats, two women are pictured here, making sure that no one in posterity will say to them “pics or it didn’t happen” when they remember that day they walked on the Fraser River.

New Westminster Archives

New Westminster Archives

Dogs were in on the action and it looks like they were having a good time too.

 

For more local history, read up on how local mountains got their names. Rather stick to sea level? Walk through Richmond 100+ years ago.

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