The Fraser River – Immersive Education
Along the Fraser River, stewards are providing rich opportunities for people to experience natural and cultural heritage. Communities on this Canadian Heritage River have established riverside trails that stretch from the Fraser River Nature Walk near the headwaters, to the historic Giscome-Portage Trail (tracing the historic trader route of Lheidli T’enneh First Nations), to the many regional park and dike trails of the Fraser Valley and lower mainland. The Fraser River is the focus of many community events including BC Rivers Day, the Fraser Fest at New Westminster, and Mission’s Celebration of Community. At museums such as the Fraser River Discovery Centre in New Westminster, the Fraser’s history is brought to life in river-based learning displays.
A Place For People
Developed from an idea first proposed in 1986, the Fraser River Discovery Centre in 2001 at Westminster Quay and has expanded to a spacious facility where rotating exhibits and hands-on programs combine to showcase the Fraser River’s many contributions to the life, history, and future of British Columbia. Communities up and down the river meet at the Centre to discuss, debate, and promote their living, working river.
The Fraser River on Display
Recent Discovery Centre exhibits have included: “Experience The Fraser,” an interactive mini riverine trail system that introduces the Lower Fraser River corridor and encourages further exploration; “Seafood For Thought”, a presentation that highlights contemporary issues of sustainable fishing and helps visitors make responsible seafood choices; “Our Bones Are Made of Salmon,” the stories of an elder that feature traditional fishing tools and preservation techniques and illustrate the vital importance of salmon fishing to Aboriginal communities.
Teaching the Youngsters
Through Discovery Centre School programs like “Taking the Pulse of the Fraser,” grade 6 to 9 students use scientific methods to analyze water quality, testing whether the temperature, turbidity, and pH of their samples fall within the acceptable levels for salmon. “My River, My Home” is an online resource kit for educators that contains lesson plans for grades K-9 about the environmental, sociocultural, and economic sustainability of the Fraser River basin. “From Pollution to Solution” helps grade 2 to 5 students understand how personal choices have environmental consequences by “polluting” a model of the Lower Mainland and brainstorming alternatives to common pollutants.
Join the Group!
Discovery Centre group tours follow various river themes and focus on different age groups.
“Sturgeon Tales” brings kids 4 to 12 years old face-to-face with an elusive denizen of the Fraser River depths – the sturgeon. Young visitors see real sturgeon specimens and explore the anatomy, life cycle, and ecology of this rare species.
“Adventures in Archaeology” allows 7- to 12-year olds to explore the rich history of the Fraser River through a simulated archaeological dig.
At 1,370 kilometres, the Fraser River is the longest river in British Columbia. Renowned for its biological diversity and natural beauty, the Fraser drains more than a quarter of the province. It was designated a Canadian Heritage River in 1998.