The vision of a new Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum is starting to crystalize as the village gets ready for its first year-round indoor tourism attraction coming in the near future.
Tourism Harrison River Valley executive director Robert Reyerse said the new attraction draws inspiration from visitor centres throughout the Interior, including Tofino, Osoyoos and Kelowna. Tourism Harrison and local companies Precision Building Design and Kurts Construction have collaborated on a design “that pays homage to Harrison’s Indigenous and historical roots while creating a building that is functional for the future and accessible to all,” Reyerse stated.
A number of design elements are meant to reflect the spirit of Harrison Hot Springs, from the blue-green glass representing the blue of the lake and green of the mountains to the timber-laden building frame to harken back to the area’s logging history. The friendly Sasquatch standing outside the current building will be there to greet visitors when construction is complete on the new facility.
The pandemic highlighted the limitations of the current setup. Due to COVID-19, the museum could only let in one or two tourists at a time, given the small space and inadequate ventilation. Reyerse also noted the museum was not accessible to those using wheelchairs. The hope for the new building is to achieve gold status by the standards of the Rick Hansen Foundation.
In February, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport announced $21.3 million in funding for 50 shovel-ready tourism projects across B.C., which included $1 million for the expansion of the Visitor Centre and Sasquatch Museum. The ministry noted that the museum and visitor centre was “a key attraction that celebrates Harrison’s long history with the Sasquatch and the Sts’ailes people.”
The expansion moves the current museum – housed in 120 square feet – to a 1,300-square-foot area that the visitor centre and museum will share. In addition to showcasing an extensive collection of Sasquatch artifacts, the new museum will add more components focusing on local Indigenous history as well. Local author and renowned Sasquatch investigator Thomas Steenburg will assist in setting up the museum.
The new building will have parking at the back, off the road.
Reyerse said permitting and design have taken longer than initially anticipated due to high pressures on the construction industry. With that in mind, he projects construction may begin as soon as the fall.