The Fraser Valley aims to be a welcoming and accessible destination for all people to visit. To showcase some of the accessible activities we have to offer we partnered with Dan and Elena to show you how they spend a weekend in the Valley. Originally from Chilliwack, Dan and Elena relocated to Vancouver in 2016 after Dan sustained a high level spinal cord injury at the cervical 6 vertebrae leaving him a quadriplegic. Facing a new normal, Elena sought out support from others who knew what she was experiencing, and found her partner, Brooke Pagé. Her and Brooke created the Wives and Girlfriends of Spinal Cord Injury, or WAGS of SCI. WAGS of SCI is a meet up and support group exclusively for wives and girlfriends of partners who have sustained a spinal cord injury to discuss their experiences and learn from one another. Their goal is to provide outreach in their communities to ensure that there is support for women who are new to this life. After Dan’s injury he too changed career paths, he went back to university and is in the process of becoming a recreational therapist and began outreach of his own, QuadChef. Through QuadChef Dan has worked with Spinal Cord BC to provide bimonthly cooking classes – Food for Thought with Dan Duffy.
“When we are not working or in pursuit of more education, we love to come back to the Fraser Valley. For us, it feels like coming home and is one of our favourite places to explore when we have some downtime. From the wineries, lakeside views, and delicious eateries the Fraser Valley has a bounty of accessible experiences waiting to be explored.” Continue reading for Dan & Elena’s long weekend itinerary!
Day 1 – Langley
We started our trip to the Fraser Valley by heading East on Highway 1 from Vancouver, just a short 45 minute drive to the Township of Langley and one of our favourite accessible places to visit: The Greater Vancouver Zoo. Dedicated to education and conservation, the Greater Vancouver Zoo is home to many rescued, donated and orphaned animals. The mission of the Greater Vancouver Zoo is to inspire appreciation of our ecosystems and support conservation efforts by engaging the community. Discover the sights and sounds of 140 species on 120 acres in the heart of the Fraser Valley. It is very apparent that the staff here take great pride in each animal they care for and we were ecstatic to arrive right on time to witness a giraffe feeding. The zoo is incredibly wheelchair, walker, and stroller friendly, you can spend hours walking and wheeling around the grounds. Dan and I both enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds while exploring the different landscapes and exotic animals from near and far. A great stop for families and kids of all ages!
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Day 2 – Abbotsford
After waking up in Langley we grabbed some breakfast at the Hilltop Diner Cafe before heading out to Abbotsford. The Fraser Valley is quickly becoming one of BC’s most well known wine regions so of course we had to check it out! We stopped at Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery, a gorgeous vineyard with a chapel style tasting room. As you enter the grounds through the lush, grape lined driveway you are whisked away to a European-style retreat. We were both pleasantly surprised at how spacious this winery was, with easy maneuvering from the front entrance, to the back patio and into the vineyard, it’s a true farm to table feel. We could have sat for hours in pure bliss and relaxation. In addition to tables on the front and the back patio, we were able to sit inside at a table and have a personal wine tasting done by Seaside Pearl’s friendly and knowledgeable tasting room staff. After trying the wine I walked alongside Dan through the vineyard, getting a real farm to table experience.
We grabbed lunch at Brodeur’s Bistro, which boasts a menu of Cajun, Creole, and French Canadian cuisine. With mouth watering menu options and over 25 side dishes, we had a hard time picking just one. In addition to accessible indoor tables, Brodeur’s also has a large heated, covered, and accessible patio area and fully accessible restrooms making it a great place for a date night or a larger gathering with family and friends. The food was delicious and we definitely wanted to know the secret Cajun seasoning recipe for cooking at home!
After lunch we headed to Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery. Owners Mike and Judy Campbell are truly passionate about bees, protecting the environment, honey and mead. This family owned business made us feel just like that, a part of the family. The facility is fully accessible, with easy movement in the shop which allowed us to participate in a mead tasting. We learned that the delicious honey wines were presented to a couple after they wed, as a gift for their “honeymoon”. Factual, educational and warm hearted, this business was a delightful surprise to visit and gave us a feel for Abbotsford’s handmade and homegrown authenticity. We even got to take some specialty honey home as a beautiful reminder of this experience!
A Good Night’s Sleep: Explore Abbotsford Accommodation Options
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Day 3 – Chilliwack
We started our day at the Chilliwack Sunflower Festival, a must see! Filled with golden rows of beautiful bright coloured petals this is a one of a kind experience. Take a stroll through the extra wide pathways throughout the 10 acre property which boasts 25 beautiful varieties of sunflowers. We recommend bringing your FreeWheel for easy maneuvering around the sunflower festival as you will surely be spending quite some time taking it all in and taking many pictures for Instagram!
After working up an appetite looking at the sunflowers we decided to head to Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar for lunch. We enjoyed a beautiful sunny day out on their garden oasis patio, filled with plants and a calming water feature. A perfect place to rejuvenate and relax while enjoying your favourite cocktail and a tasty Italian sandwich or handmade pasta dish. Wheelchair users will be happy to know that this location is equipped with an accessible restroom and the transition in and out of the restaurant is a swift one.
Just a short trip down the road we headed into picturesque Cultus Lake Provincial Park. We were excited to set up camp for the night at Maple Bay Accessible Campgrounds , the perfect place to kick back by a campfire after a day of enjoying the beach and lake. This was the highlight of our time here, being able to wheel down close enough to the water and have Dan sitting with his feet in the sand, an experience most of us take for granted. We both felt the summer camp vibe that left us feeling connected and cozy. Located inside the cabin, you will find a bed low enough to transfer in and out of your wheelchair for a good night’s sleep. The accessible restrooms are spacious, leaving plenty of room to wheel in and open and close the door independently. The fresh forest air and nostalgic sounds of nature wake you up feeling refreshed and ready to take on your day. We look forward to returning next summer with our friends and family!
A Good Night’s Sleep: Chilliwack Accommodations
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Day 4 – Harrison Hot Springs
For our last day of the trip we headed out to Harrison Hot Springs. We started with a delicious meal with farm to table ingredients at Muddy Waters Cafe. Enjoy your coffee and snacks inside or on their patio, with views of the lake right across the street! After you fuel up the options of exploration are endless! Relax on the beach, explore trails and walking paths, shop at quaint boutiques in the village or enjoy a day at the spa. We were most excited about the wheelchair accessible fishing tours offered by BC Sportfishing Group! Dan and I spent an adventurous day sturgeon fishing with Tony, a knowledgeable tour guide who is full of fish facts. We even caught a sturgeon! Be prepared to be amazed at the size of these prehistoric animals. Another fantastic accessible experience we were able to have in Harrison was utilizing their Mobi-Mat which makes it possible for those living in wheelchairs to get much closer to the water and enjoy the serenity of Harrison Lake. Finding accessible parking was a breeze as there are many stalls available close to the ramp which bring you onto the promenade, and an accessible rooftop viewing platform to get the best views in town. Be sure to pop into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a delicious Sasquatch foot before you head home!
A Good Night’s Sleep: Harrison Accommodation
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For more on travelling with spinal cord injury visit Spinal Cord BC.