Creating the Idea
The Island 22 Equestrian park began with local parents who realized that there were not as many safe areas in Chilliwack for their children to go riding. Dirt bikes and off roading vehicles were becoming more popular around busy areas such as the river. Equestrians needed somewhere they could ride safely. The idea of an equestrian park began, and parents approached Horse Council for support and then together they went to the District of Chilliwack. The District agreed that a safe horse area was required in the city, since we had the Fair Grounds in place at that time, but it was a riding ring/track setting and could only be accessed by going through town. At the time Island 22 was only a boat launch and a campground and the horse park side was an over grown blackberry / cotton wood tree site and gravel pit. Where you now see the main parking lot used to be a giant gravel pit hole.
Creating the Equestrian Park
32 years ago the first trees were cleared, backhoes drove in, tractors took over and even army tanks helped to landscape. The Island 22 Equestrian Park was created with the support of the whole community of Chilliwack. Our local dairy farmers let us use their farm equipment, and tree loggers helped us clear the way for the trails you see today. There was a local army general who was excited for the opportunity for his engineers to practice and to volunteer services for a local cause and offered a great deal of help.
The outpouring of help that was received from the community was incredible. The enjoyment that hundreds of users have at the park decades later could not have been done without all of the supporters when the equestrian park first started.
Creating the Course
A course designer named Sean Flynn was found to work with Island 22 to help create the course. Sean recognized the enthusiasm, desire and imagination of the growing equestrian society. He spent a whole summer working on district engineering drawings to create a course and park plan. Using his drawing we applied for a much larger more substantial provincial and federal grant to get us started. Sean Flynn and his friend from New Zealand, Glen Waklin, built the very first jumps at Island 22, and some are still there today. If you look closely at some of the older fences and at the posts surrounding the show arena you will see carved Fs and Ws, the mark of Sean and Glen.
The very first jumps were all named after volunteers when the park was getting started. Wendys Web, Wedlers Welcome, Higginson Hideaway, The Flying F, Larry's Leap, Glens Gulp, and Meisters Monster are just a few of these. The Island 22 Equestrian Park Society was formed while the first 3-Day Horse Trials at the park was also being organized. The volunteers that worked to create the park, the course, and the show were the ones to make up the original society. Every year since the start of the equestrian park and society, the group maintains the park for the safety of the riders, and organizes the annual 3-day event that sees over 150 competitors.
The Island 22 Equestrian Society
The society itself consists of members from the equestrian community. Some members have been there since the society was created 32 years ago. There is always room for new members who are looking to get involved and help maintain the park and organize for the annual event. There are meetings throughout the year to keep everyone up to date on what is going on at the park, and work toward organizing the event.
Park maintenance: Keeping trails safe and accessible, maintaining jumps at the park, arenas, and paddocks.
Show organization: Annual Island 22 Horse Trials is put on every Labour Day weekend at the park. There are over 150 competitors who stay at the park with their horses.