A Paradise Lost and Found in the Vedder River

A Paradise Lost and Found in the Vedder River

Growing Up in Chilliwack, BC: A Paradise Lost and Found on the Vedder River


When someone mentions Chilliwack, British Columbia, those unfamiliar with the place may be left scratching their heads. They may wonder why a small city near the Fraser Valley matters in the grand scheme of Canadian or even global geography. But for those of us who had the incredible fortune of growing up in Chilliwack, it isn't just a location; it's a symphony of experiences, largely orchestrated by the omnipresent natural beauty that surrounds it. At the center of this mosaic of youthful memories is the Vedder River, a body of water that played a far more significant role in shaping my worldview than any textbook I’ve ever read.

Endless Summers and Eternal Days

Summers in Chilliwack were nothing short of magical. Imagine waking up with the radiant Canadian sun pouring through your window, hopping onto your bike, and riding down the familiar streets with the wind whistling past your ears as you headed straight to the Vedder River.

As kids, our legs were our engines, and our bikes were our vessels that transported us to an aquatic playground, far removed from the structured monotony of school life. Each ride to the river was an adventure in itself. We were explorers of the modern world, seeking hidden treasures and untold stories beneath the river's glistening surface.

The Snorkel and Dive Chronicles

What set our summer days apart was our love for diving into the river's many fishing holes. Armed with snorkels and an insatiable curiosity, we would plunge into the depths to explore a world that most people seldom got to see. In the underwater realm of the Vedder, life took on a different shade. Sunlight dappled through the water, casting ethereal shadows on the rocks and pebbles below. Schools of fish darted around as if choreographed in a watery ballet.

Our missions were manifold. We cut out snags, unsnarled fishing lines, and even went on treasure hunts for discarded fishing lures and tackle. Some of these finds were so unique that they were added to our collections, immortal relics of summers long past. Believe it or not, I still have some of that tackle to this day, safely tucked away as if encapsulating moments frozen in time.

Bonfires and Time Warps

As day gave way to dusk, the Vedder River transformed yet again. Our snorkels and diving gear were replaced with firewood and marshmallows. Nights by the Vedder were mesmerizing. With a bonfire roaring, each flicker of flame seemed to stretch the night even longer, as if by magic. The crackling of the fire was a lullaby to our youthful hearts, and the smell of burning wood mingled with the evening air was a perfume that no high-end brand could ever replicate.

A Eulogy to Youth

Those endless days and elongated nights by the Vedder River were more than mere childhood experiences; they were life lessons disguised as fun. We learned about the importance of nature, the joy of simple living, and the immeasurable value of friendship. We understood the art of balancing risk and reward, whether it was diving into unknown depths or stoking a fire to last through the night. Most importantly, we discovered the essence of being truly alive.

The Art of Staying Young

It's easy to look back and think we had it so good, especially when adulthood arrives with its myriad responsibilities. Our bikes are replaced by cars, our snorkels by smartphones, and our endless summers by eternal to-do lists. However, the real tragedy is not that we grew up; it’s that we forgot how to stay young at heart.

In the years that have passed, the Vedder River has continued to flow just as it always has, indifferent to the relentless march of time. And although we may have physically moved on, there's a part of each of us that remains there, snorkel in hand, ready to dive back into the stream of our past.

The lesson here is that we can—and should—make time for ourselves. We must remember to cherish the simplicity of life's pleasures, just like those endless summers in Chilliwack. We may not be able to turn back time, but we can surely relive those moments in our hearts and minds, and perhaps, find our way back to the river once more.


Growing up in Chilliwack, near the banks of the Vedder River, we were gifted an experience that many people can only dream of. If there’s a heaven on Earth, it’s there among the calm waters and rustling trees, where as children, we tasted freedom, friendship, and the pure joy of being alive.

To all who grew up in Chilliwack or any place where nature was your playground, let’s make a pact: While we may grow older, let’s never outgrow the things that truly matter. Let’s keep that youthful spirit alive. After all, you don’t need a snorkel to dive deep into the river of life; you just need the heart of a child and the soul of an explorer.

And so, in the words of the poet Samuel Ullman, "Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." To that, I say—let's keep our souls unwrinkled, for the Vedder River still flows, and our adventures are far from over.

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