Welcome to Burnaby’s Big Bend neighborhood, where the air is filled with the fragrance of fresh flowers, and the landscape is adorned with lush greenery. Nestled in this serene locale lies the renowned Burnaby Farm Tour, a delightful experience for those who appreciate the beauty of nature and love to support local farmers. If you enjoy purchasing nursery plants and farm products directly from the hands that nurtured them, then this activity is an absolute must-see!
The Big Bend District
The Big Bend District holds a rich and storied history that stretches back thousands of years. Once a natural cranberry marsh, this area was cherished by the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwxwú7mesh ̱ speaking peoples who harvested berries and resources from its bountiful landscape. However, with the establishment of the colony of British Columbia in 1858, the dynamics of land ownership changed significantly. European settlers were granted opportunities to claim land through preemption, leaving Indigenous people excluded from this system.
In the 1860s, European-origin farmers were among the first to cultivate the land, engaging in crop cultivation and animal husbandry. By the early 1890s, the agricultural landscape in Big Bend grew more diverse, with Chinese Canadians becoming a significant presence in the farming community. Despite discriminatory legal and social restrictions on land ownership, many Chinese Canadian farmers found ways to contribute to the region’s agricultural development by leasing or renting farmland from European landowners. Working together, they employed traditional farming techniques and achieved remarkable productivity on relatively small farms, supplying fresh produce to distributors and supermarkets in Burnaby and Greater Vancouver.
The Second World War marked a turning point for Chinese Canadian farmers, as their active participation during the war brought about positive changes in social attitudes towards the community. Shortly after the war, opportunities for land ownership became available to Chinese Canadian farmers, marking a shift in the agricultural landscape.
Today, the Big Bend area is home to approximately 27 farms operated by Chinese Canadian families, some of which have been in continuous operation for generations. These farms cultivate a diverse range of produce and plants, preserving the agricultural heritage of the region. The City’s Urban Agricultural Land Reserve protects over 550 acres of land between Marine Drive and the Fraser River, ensuring the preservation of Big Bend’s distinctive agricultural lands despite its close proximity to urban areas.