LITTLE MOUNTAIN – WHILE TIMELESSLY OLDER THAN CHILLIWACK ITSELF, RELATIVELY LITTLE IS KNOWN ABOUT IT
To some extent, virtually everyone who has ever lived in Chilliwack (as well as those who predate its settlers) has been aware of Little Mountain, located 2.2 kilometres northeast of Five Corners. However, similar to Mt. Cheam, not a lot is really known about the history of this smaller mountain.
In terms of its physical profile, Little Mountain (aka Mt. Shannon) has an east-west width of 2.0 kilometres, a north-south depth of 650 metres, and a height (at its highest point) of 119 metres.
The official name of the elevation is Mt. Shannon. This name comes from the four Shannon brothers (Thomas, William, Samuel, and Joseph) who pre-empted land, starting in 1864, at the base of the mountain, along the future Yale Road East.
Over the years, Little Mountain has accommodated a number of land uses, each with its own distinct history. From residential housing developments to a reservoir, a quarry, a park, and numerous cemeteries, there is much about this mountain on the outskirts of the pre-1980 City of Chilliwack that is of historical interest.
In March 1909, Elk Creek Waterworks started construction on Little Mountain of its reservoir for Chilliwack. When completed in early June of that year, it would hold 9.1 million litres of water. Today, the reservoir holds 19 million litres.
This circa 1911 image faces east along dusty Yale Road East, with Little Mountain (then known as “Shannon’s Mountain”) to the left. The photo captures a horse-drawn wagon heading into Chilliwack from points east. Part of the tower of Little Mountain’s first reservoir has been identified in the image. (Image Credit: Chilliwack Museum and Archives
Collection, Photo Number: PP501924)
Little Mountain is also home to a number of cemeteries, some dating back to the late 1870s. These final resting places include the Anglican, Oddfellows, Canadian Legion, and Chinese cemeteries.
This circa 1890 image captures a service underway at the IOOF Cemetery. Note the abundance of cemetery land available for future burials, a situation in marked contrast to later times. (Image Credit: Chilliwack Museum and Archives Collection, Photo Number: PP500665)
Little Mountain was known for many years for its quarry, created as a result of Chilliwack’s need for a rock supply to improve its roads. In November 1910, the City established its new quarry on the western side of Little Mountain, approximately 275 metres north of Yale Road East. Today, what is left of the quarry can still be seen, although much of it is overgrown with vegetation.
This 1905 image of downtown Chilliwack was captured facing southeast from the belfry of Cooke’s Presbyterian Church on Wellington Avenue. Clearly visible to the left of the photo is Little Mountain, located 2.2 kilometres northeast of Five Corners. (Image Credit: Grossman/Lister Collection)
“Mount Shannon Estates”, a contoured subdivision on the eastern slope of the mountain, essentially between Meadowlands Golf Course and the cemetery area, was the first of several Little Mountain residential developments. The official opening of this subdivision was on June 22, 1963, with the first completed home in the project (cost of $35,000) opened for public viewing on June 14, 1964. All utilities associated with Mt. Shannon Estates were installed underground, the first such instance of this approach in the Fraser Valley.
In 1977, a 1.5-acre park called “Little Mountain Park” was created on Little Mountain, directly west of the cemetery. It offers a loop trail system with grassy areas and farmland views.
This 1954 aerial image is centred over Little Mountain (aka Mt. Shannon). At that time the only “development” evident on the mountain are the cemeteries, as there are no residential subdivisions in place. (Image Credit: City of Chilliwack)
Arguably Chilliwack’s preeminent landmark is Little Mountain (notwithstanding the mammoth Mt. Cheam, which, while highly visible, is not actually located in Chilliwack). Most historical photos facing east from downtown Chilliwack have generally captured Little Mountain in the background.
Today Little Mountain is both a vibrant community as well as a serene resting place for the departed, and it will continue to be a vital presence in Chilliwack ad infinitum.
This 2021 ground-level image captures Little Mountain while facing north from Prairie Central Road. This perspective affords a relative appreciation of two of the mountain’s three dimensions: its east-west width of 2.0 kilometres and its height (at the highest point) of 119 metres. Evident in this photo are both the pronounced drop in elevation approximately halfway across Little Mountain, and to the left of the shot the communications antenna at its peak. (Image Credit: Chilliwack History Perspectives Collection)