Echoes from the Past: Whale spotted ‘churning’ lake water into a fury

50 years ago in Agassiz

The following events happened 50 years ago, in 1961. The information for Echoes from the Past is written weekly by the Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society

 

50 Years Ago, 1961

• A whale was sighted in Harrison Lake spouting water up to 20 feet high in the channel between Echo Island and the east shore of the lake. Local residents and hotel guests reported seeing the animal churning the water “into fury”, causing echoes of the tremendous splashing to roll across the lake.  It lingered in the lake for several days, providing many sightings and thrilling onlookers. This was not the first whale to visit Harrison Lake.  Indian lore told a story of how two natives fishing in a dug-out canoe on the Harrison River in long-ago times had their craft raised above the surface on the back of a whale and carried some distance.  That whale got stranded on a sandbar near the slave village of Heclan, now an Indian cemetery.  The whale was slaughtered by spears and its heart was preserved and passed on from one generation to another for many generations. Another sighting in the lake was recorded on August 27, 1936 and was reported in the Vancouver Daily Province.

• Another Klondyke Days was held at Harrison Hot Springs but bad weather spoiled the affair.  Three dances were held, highlighted by a bonus performance of the can-can by the “Klondyke Nuggets”. Due to the bad weather, the speed boat races drew only a few boats although the hotel water ski club put on a good display.  The Iowa Colored Ghosts demonstrated some of their soft-ball skills in the afternoon despite the drizzle.  However, the Sunday evening’s game against a valley all-star team was rained out.  The bad weather caused a big disappointment for the sponsors, volunteers and participants.

• The employees of the Agassiz Correctional Camp completed a four-week course as part of their training, followed by a one-week stint at the BC Penitentiary at New Westminster before starting work at the new Correctional Camp at Seabird Island.  Nineteen full-time workers participated.

• The District of Kent gave approval for construction of a new hotel west of Agassiz on the Lougheed Highway.  This hotel would become the Kent Hotel, and was later renamed the Cross Roads Hotel. Approval was also given for a new hotel on the site of the Bella Vista Hotel on Pioneer Street, although later it was learned that the Attorney General would only issue one liquor license for the area and only the Kent Hotel was actually built.