History in the Making
Ruskin sits on the border of Maple Ridge and Mission, near where the Stave River flows into the Fraser River. It was named around 1900 after the English art critic John Ruskin. The Canadian Co-operative Society (CCS) started lumbering and saw milling at the Stave River in 1896. They flourished until 1898 when the Stave River dried up during a very dry summer and they were unable to move the logs to the plant. The CCS folded in 1898 and surrendered its assets to E.H. Heaps & Company in 1899. The Edward H. Heaps & Company building was built in 1902 and operated as a store, mill office, restaurant and hotel until 1918 when the company went into receivership.
As Heaps' operation came to an end, a shingle mill started operating in 1912 on the Stave River less than half a mile up the river. Stoltze Manufacturing Co. was American-owned and because their main market was the United States, the shingle mill started off strong. When the Abernethy & Lougheed Logging Company won the contract for 8,000 acres of timber at Stave Lake in 1914, Stoltze Manufacturing Co. could count on a continuous supply of cedar. In the 1920s, Stoltze was the largest shingle mill in British Columbia. Stoltze's success depended heavily on the employment of Japanese workers in the woods and in the mill. The 1930 depression hit the mill hard and it closed during the Second World War.
In the summer of 1908, the Red Bridge was built. This was the first road crossing of the lower Stave River. The bridge was formally opened by Governor General Lord Earl Grey. The original site of the bridge is now behind the Ruskin Dam under 20 metres of water. Hydroelectric developments were influential in shaping the history and landscape of the Stave Valley as early as 1909 when the Western Canada Power Company Limited began the construction of a power plant at Stave Falls.
Construction of the Stave Falls Dam and Powerhouse began in 1909 and was completed by January 1, 1912. In 1929, construction began on the Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse at the narrow granite gorge 5.6 km downstream of Stave Falls.
Learn more about the history and the pioneer families of Ruskin at the Maple Ridge Museum.
The Heritage Resources of Maple Ridge is a great resource for additional information about the Ruskin (PDF) area.
Historical Buildings in Ruskin
- Ball Residence | 28594 104 Avenue | Circa 1893
- Log House | 9449 285 Street | Circa 1932
- Miller Residence | 28594 104 Avenue | Circa 1932
- Residence | 28306 Dewdney Trunk Road | Circa 1945
- Ruskin Community Hall | 28395 96 Avenue | Circa 1924
- Ruskin Elementary School | 28348 96 Avenue | Circa 1922
- Wildwood (Smith) Residence | 10412 280 Street | Circa 1930s
- Historical Landscape: 'Twin Maples' | 10350 280 Street | Named for the twin Sugar Maples that
still stand at the front edge of the property.
Ruskin has a long history of lumber and saw mills and the area along the Stave River still has a number of active shake and sawmills. The Ruskin Community Hall is still an important meeting place for the Ruskin community.