COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER WEEK: Witnessing the bridge

The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)
The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge was built over the course of two years, costing a total of more than $41 million in today’s Canadian dollars. (Photo/Agassiz-Harrison Museum and Archives)The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge was built over the course of two years, costing a total of more than $41 million in today’s Canadian dollars. (Photo/Agassiz-Harrison Museum and Archives)
The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge opened on Oct. 31, 1956 with then-Premier W.A.C. Bennett cutting the ribbon. Bennet is the longest-serving premier in B.C. history. (Photo/Agassiz-Harrison Museum and Archives)The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge opened on Oct. 31, 1956 with then-Premier W.A.C. Bennett cutting the ribbon. Bennet is the longest-serving premier in B.C. history. (Photo/Agassiz-Harrison Museum and Archives)
Construction crews work on a natural gas line under the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Photo/Agassiz-Harrison Museum and Archives)Construction crews work on a natural gas line under the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Photo/Agassiz-Harrison Museum and Archives)

Week by week, local journalists record events that go down in Agassiz-Harrison history. Arguably one of the biggest events in the nearly 100 years local journalists have served the community is the opening of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge.

The Agassiz-Harrison Advance proclaimed the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge “A Dream Come True At Last,” on the front page of the Oct. 29, 1956 edition. The Oct. 29 edition was published two days ahead of the bridge’s official opening.

Officials planned four days of special events to mark the milestone opening, beginning with a banquet at the Chilliwack United Church Hall for 400 invited guests. B.C.’s longest-serving premier, W.A.C. Bennett, was tapped to cut the official ribbon with then-Highways Minister P.A. Gaglardi emceeing the ceremonies.

Festivities also included live bands, an air show from flying clubs based in the Fraser Valley, fireworks at Harrison Lake and a free dance at Harrison Hot Springs Memorial Hall.

Hundreds of people were expected to attend, many having signed petitions and expressed support to create the bridge that took more than two years to construct and $4 million to build (which would be nearly $42 million in today’s money).

“Thanks to their efforts, Agassiz residents will no longer have to worry about fog, wind, driftwood, ice in the river or engine repairs,” reads the main article covering the bridge’s imminent opening. “No one has yet been known to reach a bridge after it pulled out and bridges seldom go to New Westminster for month-long overhauls.”

The ferry – appropriately dubbed “The Agassiz” – was a 154-ton vessel that operated 24 hours a day following the collapse of the Mission Bridge. After receiving one last overhaul, “The Agassiz” was sent on its way to work the Fort Langley-Albion run under the continued command of Capt. Denis Harvey, who was in charge of the ferry since 1946.

The Advance noted local Sasquatch never made use of the Agassiz-Rosedale ferry while it was in place. While there was and is no toll for pedestrians crossing the bridge, it’s unclear whether or not the Sasquatch would use it, and, if they did, whether or not they’d have to pay. The question remains unanswered, with the 1956 edition declaring, “An Advance reporter has been sent to inquire, but he isn’t back yet.”


@adamEditor18
adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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agassizHarrison Hot SpringsLocal History