Abbotsford is a Canadian city located in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, adjacent to Metro Vancouver. It is the 5th largest municipality in British Columbia, home to 123,864 people (2006). Its Census Metropolitan Area is the 23rd largest in Canada, with 159,020 people (2006). It has the 3rd highest proportion of visible minorities of all Census Metropolitan Areas in Canada, after the Greater Toronto Area and Metro Vancouver.
Abbotsford is the largest municipality by area in British Columbia. It is home to the University of the Fraser Valley and Abbotsford International Airport, which hosts the Abbotsford International Airshow. The municipality's southern boundary is the Canada-US border, across which is Sumas in the state of Washington. In Canada, it is bordered by Langley to the west, the Fraser River and Mission to the north, and Chilliwack to the east. Much of Abbotsford has dramatic views of Mount Baker (to the southeast) and the Coast Mountains (to the north).
The first stage in Abbotsford's colonial development occurred when the Royal Engineers surveyed the area in response to the Gold Rush along the Fraser River in 1858. This led to the building of Yale Road (today Old Yale Road), the first transportation route to link the Fraser Valley. Settlement grew and the production of butter, milk and tobacco began by the late 1860s. In 1889 former Royal Engineer John Cunningham Maclure applied for a crown grant to obtain the 160 acres (0.65 km2) that would become Abbotsford.
The Maclures named the land Abbotsford after family friend Harry Abbott, the Western Superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The title passed hands to Robert Ward, who filed a town site subdivision on July 9, 1891. Also in 1891, the CPR built a railway line through the area that connected Mission with Sumas. This route was the only rail connection between Vancouver and Seattle until 1904.
The Village of Abbotsford was incorporated in 1892. At that time Robert Ward sold many of the lots to private investors, but also sold off a significant portion to the Great Northern Railway's subsidiary company the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway. The British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) arrived in 1910. The Interurban, as the BCER tram linking Abbotsford with Vancouver and Chilliwack was called, was discontinued in 1950, but BCER's successor BC Hydro retains the right to re-introduce passenger rail service. Service to Vancouver currently runs from neighbouring Mission by way of the West Coast Express.
The most notable natural disaster to hit Abbotsford was a major flood in 1948. 1972 saw the amalgamation of the Village of Abbotsford and the District of Sumas into the District of Abbotsford. The District of Abbotsford amalgamated with the District of Matsqui in 1995 to become the City of Abbotsford.