HISTORY: Reflections on Logging in the Agassiz-Harrison Valley

A visit to colleagues at the Kilby Historic Site last week started me reflecting on how much the community of Harrison Mills has changed over the past century. On a cool and bright afternoon, we enjoyed the tranquility of Harrison River and the near absence of people as we discussed and “walked through” the heritage tour we are planning, one of four within the Agassiz-Harrison Valley, that will be launched this summer. I couldn’t help but think about the bustling Harrison Bay and River of the early 1900s and all the hard, physical labour involved in the lumber and milling industry that gave this community its most recent name.

The Agassiz-Harrison Museum holds a variety of logging-related equipment, images, references and oral histories donated by our citizens. Like most communities in B.C., logging has long been an important industry, supporting the local economy since the arrival of settlers. It has permeated culture to the point that the local baseball team was even called the “Loggers!” And of course, logging continues today; both empty and full trucks pass over the tracks by the museum building daily. Looking to the north and west from downtown Agassiz, active cut blocks are visible to the naked eye.

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Forestry is also the reason I was first introduced to the Agassiz-Harrison Valley. One of the early cultural resource management project I oversaw as a transplanted archaeologist from Ontario was the surveying of forestry cut blocks on both the east and west sides of Harrison Lake. Who knew, that a few short years later, I would be working at the community’s museum, learning about and sharing its logging heritage?

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But we are always hoping to learn more! So please feel free to contact the museum (604-796-3545; agassizharrisonmuseum@shawbiz.ca) if you have resources or stories to share about our community’s logging history. We hope to see you at our next Speaker’s Night on Wednesday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. when we discuss logging the forests of the Agassiz-Harrison Valley. Tickets are $5 per person!

Lindsay Foreman is the manager and curator at the Agassiz-Harrison Museum.

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