The village of Arnold, British Columbia, Canada with approximately 500 current inhabitants, is located on the Sumas Flats in eastern Abbotsford (coordinates: 49.007, -122.15). Bordered by the Vedder Mountain range to the east, the international border with the United States to the south, the raised train tracks to the north, and Bowman Road to the west, it occupies 247 hectares (610 acres) of fertile land once belonging to John Joseph Perrigo. Although settled by Europeans, the area was originally Stó:lō territory inhabited by the Sumas people.
In 1941, John Perrigo wanted to sell his land to Mennonites, having seen the tidy and flourishing settlement of Yarrow just a few kilometers to the east. He placed advertisements in the Yarrow General Store window and the owner, Jake Neuman, became his real estate agent. Advertisements were also placed in the Winnipeg Free Press and the Canadian Mennonite church paper, Die Mennonitische Rundschau. Mr. Andersen to the west, and Mr. Hougen to the north, also sub-divided and sold land to increase the farmland base around the community.
By 1942, eight families came to the little settlement. In 1943, Jake Neuman built a general store which was the center of commerce for many years. In 1944 the Arnold Growers Co-op was built and electricity came to the village. By 1946, 50 Mennonite families were industriously building houses for large families, little hip roof barns and chicken houses, and planting raspberries as a cash crop. Arnold Waterworks was established in 1946 and all able bodied men from the community donated long hours of work to lay wooden pipes underground. Fresh water from a creek on Vedder Mountain behind the Sumas Substation powerhouse was brought to all the farms.
At first, the struggling group worshipped together in homes, but in 1943, a functional covered basement was used, and in 1946, the sanctuary was added for the 75 worshippers. By 1950, the church registered 200 attendees. The church was the village center; religious and social life revolved around it. Besides the Sunday morning and evening meetings, midweek Bible studies, youth meetings, adult and youth choir practices, German School and Ladies Aid kept the little building in continuous use. Because there was only one church in the village, all attended together and there seemed to be a spirit of close community and unity. Most of the families were large and many children and youth filled the front benches. Youth were mentored and given responsibilities in the church at an early age. Many also worked together all summer in the raspberry patches and bean fields. Sundays were a reprieve from constant work and the large families visited each other over meals with much story-telling and conversation.
John Perrigo had hoped that the village and the church would be named after him, and he donated an acre of land for the church to this end. For a short time, Perrigo Mennonite Brethren Church existed but the villagers decided to pay Perrigo for his acre, and changed the name of the church to Arnold Mennonite Brethren Church, after the slough and tram stop.
A one-room school begun in 1952 served the first three grades for twenty years, after which children were transported by bus to Upper Sumas School. In the early 1950s, Arnold families sponsored and the village absorbed 13 Mennonite refugee families from Europe.
Unfortunately, the berry markets collapsed, the little farms could not sustain the huge families, and the settler's grown children began to disperse to towns close by and the city of Vancouver for education and jobs. After almost closing in the 1980's, today the Arnold church and community thrives. The name of the church was changed to Arnold Community Church in 1988 to reflect integration as the village inhabitants were no longer exclusively Mennonite. Hobby farmers and commuters have replaced the little mixed farms of before, but a vibrant community remains.
Friesen, Mark. "Arnold, a Human Geography." University of the Fraser Valley term paper, 2002.
Toews, Neil. "The Village of Arnold." University of British Columbia term paper, 1967.
|Author(s)||Helen Rose Pauls|
|Date Published||June 2014|
 Cite This Article
Pauls, Helen Rose. "Arnold (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2014. Web. 22 Dec 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Arnold_(Abbotsford,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=123809.
Pauls, Helen Rose. (June 2014). Arnold (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 December 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Arnold_(Abbotsford,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=123809.
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