In the winter of 2001, a small group gathered at Younie’s restaurant in Chilliwack to talk about forming a dragon boat team. Inspired by Lisa Moran and Cheryl McKenna, who were already familiar with the sport, this small group went on to form the nucleus of the first Fraser Valley Dragon Boat team. New recruits were told that it was only a “two minute race”.
Lacking boats and paddles, the group practiced in the local United Church hall. Brooms and chairs substituted for paddles and boats. When the paddling season got under way in June, the Water Warriors entered the Alcan regatta in Vancouver, the first for the team. The thrill of the race was enough for everyone, and all but three team members left the event without realizing that they had actually won bronze in their division’s final. This was the beginning of the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat club.
By the end of the first year the core group was hooked. A recruitment meeting in February 2002 drew a large crowd and four more teams were formed. The Dragonfliers, Spirit Abreast, Trojan Warriors and Jolly Miller Strokers joined the Water Warriors for the 2002 season.
A dragon boat was rented and brought to Harrison Lake where Jim Killer of Killer’s Cove Marina offered dock space and a small floating club house. A registered society was formed and, in the following year, two boats were purchased. The local Chilliwack Lions Club donated $3,000 to purchase club life jackets and paddles for one boat while club member Manfred Preuss developed an adopt-a-paddle campaign where local businesses could help with the purchase of additional paddles.
The two boats gave the club the flexibility that was needed to expand and accommodate the practice schedules for the teams.
From those initial years, teams have come and gone. By 2008, there were four teams associated with the now officially named Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club. The Thunder Strokers, one of the founding teams, The Pirates, Crusaders and Mavericks formed the 2008 version of the club. 2009 saw the formation of the Club's first junior team - the Draconas. Kids from Hope, Agassiz and Rosedale/Chilliwack area came together to have fun and learn about Dragon Boating. They raced in three events showing very good results.
In 2005, the club introduced a new race format, the community challenge. Fraser Valley companies were invited to form teams and, with four practices under their paddles, compete with the other company teams. The event proved to be highly successful, as a fundraiser for the club, and as way for recruiting new paddlers.
With the success of the community challenge under their belts, the club decided to set their sights on another event on a slightly larger scale. Showcasing the stunning views of Harrison Hot Springs and Harrison Lake the club organized the first Harrison Dragon Boat Festival in 2004. Teams from around BC came out to race on our waters and enjoy what Harrison had to offer. Through a few different name changes and some growing pains the Harrison Dragon Boat Regatta is now considered the premier one day dragon boat event of the summer. High praise from such humble beginnings.
2007/08 saw a changing of the guard for the club. An all new executive was handed the baton and got to work on tackling some pressing matters. For the next 8 years they would continue to grow the sport, add much needed equipment and find a permanent location for the clubhouse. A Junior Program was introduced, the community challenge continued to grow as did the Harrison Regatta. An outrigger canoe was purchased which would see the start of a new outrigger program. The OC Program has expended to include numerous 1, 2 and 6 paddler boats. An annual outrigger regatta, the Echo Island challenge, was introduced in 2015 with great response from the paddling community. The Outrigger Nationals were held in Harrison in 2017.
2017/18 also saw another large executive transition. The baton was once again handed over to new members with fresh ideas and more challenges ahead. A name change was put in place to better reflect the programs being offered. We are now the Fraser Valley Paddling Club..
The club offers both a dragon boat and an outrigger program at this time for its members. These programs are offered to both our adult and junior paddlers. The club is currently looking to form a masters program as well which would cater the senior population. To check out these programs and to get more information on our club please check out their website. www.fvdbc.com