Sumas Lake, known in Halq’eméylem as Semá:th, meaning 'a big level opening,' was a shallow freshwater lake surrounded by wetlands located between Vedder and Sumas Mountains and midway between Chilliwack and Abbotsford, British Columbia. The lake supported a diversity of wildlife and its wetland habitat was a destination for migrating birds. The lake spanned approximately 10,000 acres and was known to triple in size during the flood season.
In the early 1920's, a canal was dredged and the lake was drained. This land reclamation project was intended to create more fertile farmland and as a project to create work for soldiers returning from World War I. By 1924, the Vedder River was completely diverted into the newly formed Vedder Canal, effectively turning Sumas Lake into the Sumas Prairie. Today, the site of the lake has been transformed into to agricultural, residential and commercial zones.
Studio installation view