Veronique Astles doing research in the Agassiz-Harrison Museum’s archives.                                 (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Veronique Astles doing research in the Agassiz-Harrison Museum’s archives. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Local researcher hopes history can uncover an identity for Harrison

Veronique Astles believes Harrison has more history to uncover than just the resort

What makes Harrison Hot Springs, Harrison?

For many years, resident Veronique Astles thought it was the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, the hotel that had put Harrison on the map with its exclusive access to the area’s hot springs. But when she started volunteering at the Agassiz-Harrison Museum, she realized the community’s identity could be so much more.

“I’ve lived in Harrison for about 20 years, and moving around in the community, you start asking what’s the identity,” she said, sitting at a table in the museum’s archives.

RELATED: Old ‘Harrison Hot Springs Hotel’ panel truck returns to area

The hotel, a powerhouse in the village, has dominated the dialogue, Astles said. But as she did research for the museum, she discovered that Harrison’s history has so much more to offer: through the McPherson House and farm, the old hospital site, the Miami River and importantly, the old Raake/Rivtow Boating Co. building on Rockwell Drive.

“My main point is what is our identity in Harrison,” Astles said. “I think that this building may have the answer.”

On Oct. 21, Astles gave a presentation to Harrison council about the importance of the Rivtow building, which has fallen into disrepair over the many years since it was last used.

Built in the 1940s by Paul Raake, the float house operated for many years, providing towing, tour, fishing and delivery services. It was the largest two-storey float house in North America at the time, and operated under Raake’s leadership until 1954, when it was bought by Rivtow Marina. The building was hauled ashore in the 1970s.

“In my own opinion Raake’s building is the voice of our community’s past, larger than the Ranger Station neighbouring its site and the McPherson and Wilson homes,” Astles’ report to council reads. “It is the voice of the lake — the working lake — involving many people and events.”

RELATED: Harrison’s Glencoe Hotel noted for historical significance

During Astles’ presentation, she asked council to consider developing a policy on how Harrison would preserve its history for the future.

“These buildings are going to get old, these places are going to get older,” she explained. Focusing on how best to preserve Harrison’s history will not only save the buildings from falling to pieces, but also give Harrison a stronger sense of self.

“I think if we put all this heritage together, then we would have a voice,” she said. “We have a lot of tourists that come, and when I walk or do my running by the water, they are curious about our heritage. Not just the hotel.”

“You realize our identity was just in a lot of events and a lot of families that were in Harrison,” she continued. “And it would be nice if we spoke up in that sense.”



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An anonymous person has decorated a tree and posted a sign encouraging others to do the same on the Teapot Hill Trail, and Bill Wojtun shared the idea on Facebook. (Facebook photo)
Could Cultus Lake’s Teapot Hill become Holiday Hill this Christmas?

An anonymous person is encouraging people to decorate trees on the local trail

Harrison Hot Springs Council is currently meeting at Memorial Hall on Esplanade Avenue. The next scheduled meeting is Dec. 7, 2020. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Harrison Council to consider moving meetings to Zoom

With Restart Grant funding, HHS council ponders investing in online instead of in-person meetings

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

A black-capped chickadee tolerates the 40 below zero weather. (File)
Harrison Christmas Bird Count taking flight

Local bird watchers help with worldwide bird tracking effort

RCMP don’t want to see you having your vehicle towed away after an aggressive driving infraction. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP hand out more than 500 tickets in aggressive driving crackdown

Police say they’ll continue to focus on speeding, aggressive and distracted driving

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of payments for household incomes up to $175,000

KIJHL games have been postponed through Dec. 31. (File photo)
KIJHL postpones all games through end of 2020

Due to provincial health orders, games up to Dec. 31 have been pushed back

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster kids

Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in Alberta and will be brought back to B.C. to face charges

Joe Fast of Abbotsford is on dialysis four days a week and has issued a public plea for a kidney donor. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford man with 5% kidney function is desperately in need of a live donor

Joe Fast has a rare blood type and hasn’t yet been able to find a transplant match

Most Read