Island 22 was conceived by local parents who suddenly realized that their children’s river riding was no longer as safe as it used to be. With the popularity of dirt bikes and off-roading the river was becoming a scary place.
Parents put their heads together and created a park like idea. They approached local Horse Council for their support and got it enthusiastically. Together they then approached the District of Chilliwack.
To our surprise the District agreed that a child/adult safe horse area was required. 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.
Multiple site areas were offered to the group but none of them offered up the possibilities that we saw with the Island 22 location.
At the time Island 22 was only a boat launch and a camp ground: the horse park side was an over grown black berry / cotton wood tree site and gravel pit. Where you now see the main parking lot used to be a giant gravel pit hole.
Petitions were written, grants were requested and received, and a course designer was found. Through local horse friends very active in Eventing we were able to get in touch with Sean Flynn.
Sean recognized our enthusiasm, desire and imagination immediately. He spent a whole summer attacking District engineering drawings to lie out a course and park plan for us. Using his drawing we applied for a much larger more substantial provincial and federal grant to get us started.
We got the money and work began.
Twenty - five years ago the first trees were cleared, backhoes drove in, tractors took over and even Army tanks landscaped.
Island 22 came to be with the most amazing support of our local dairy farmers who actually handed us the keys to their very expensive tractors, non-horse tree loggers who cleared for free, a backhoe excavator who still continues to volunteer free time every year to help us clear and clean, and a Local Army General who jumped at the chance at both the opportunity for his engineers to practice and to volunteer services for a local cause.
The outpouring of help that we received from the community is still mind boggling to this day and none of what you see down at the Park could have been done with out all of them.
Sean Flynn and his friend from New Zealand, Glen Waklin, built the very first jumps at Island 22: some of them are still standing. If you look closely at some of the older fences and at the posts surrounding our amazing arena you will see carved F’s and W’s: these are the mark of Sean and Glen. The work that these two men did can never be explained enough in words.
The very first jumps were all named after a volunteer, eg: Wendy’s Web, The Flying F, Glen’s Gulp, and Meister’s Monster. Many of these jumps have been replaced but the people can never be.
The Island 22 Equestrian Park Society was formed in the midst of this and our first 3-Day Horse Trials ever was an emotional effort for us. It was a realization of our goal to create a user friendly training grounds for Eventers everywhere and to see horses riding out there brings us pride even to this day.
With the cutting of the first tree we started a park tradition that has never been able to be matched anywhere. It has been created with blood, sweat, tears and love by every single volunteer out there. It is a goal that is still being worked on, molded and changed.
We continue to have visions for its future and strive to always make it better.
Your support will let us do that.