The front page photo from the Dec. 12, 1957 edition of the Agassiz-Harrison Advance, showing the new automatic crossing guards at the CP crossing in Agassiz. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)

The front page photo from the Dec. 12, 1957 edition of the Agassiz-Harrison Advance, showing the new automatic crossing guards at the CP crossing in Agassiz. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)

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HISTORY: 100 years of headlines

Columnist Lindsay Foreman shares the headlines she’s found in local papers over the years

By Lindsay Foreman

Our newspaper has been documenting activities, events, and people’s “comings and goings” for the past century. We thought we would share some highlights from the newspaper archives at the Agassiz-Harrison Museum.


The earliest newspapers in our collection include the Agassiz Record: A Community Paper, from 1923 and 1924. The Record was printed by The Valley Publishing Co., in Hammond, B.C. That’s my neck of the woods in what is now Maple Ridge, just up the Highway 7! The paper cost $1.50 per year and included ads from business owners throughout the Fraser Valley and information on community happenings.


Our collection includes papers from 1930 to 1933 that were printed by the Agassiz Advance, which succeeded the Agassiz Record. The front page of the Thursday June 5, 1930, issue of the Advance included an article titled “What Agassiz and Her Citizens Enjoy.” In it, the reader learns that Agassiz’s assets in 1930 included: electric light service, a two-room high school, five-room public school, the Dominion Experimental Farm, the CPR Railway Telegraph, a community hall, Dr. McCaffrey (the town physician), movies once a week, municipal council, school board, a drug store, the ferry service, the Agricultural Fair, a hop factory, a health resort, United and Anglican Churches, and roads. The list continues but unfortunately we do not have the rest of the article!


The biggest news during the 1940s was, you guessed it, the 1948 flood. This natural disaster devastated many communities in the lower Fraser River Valley, including the District of Kent. Our resourceful citizens worked together to take care of one another, livestock, homes, and businesses. Following the flood, the district worked with the province to establish the diking system. Due to the flood, the Advance did not go to print from June 2 to June 30, 1948.


The construction and completion of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge took place during the 1950s, changing the dynamics of our community. “Bridge Opening Makes 1956 Year to Remember” headlined the Jan. 3, 1957, issue of the Advance. Our community continued to grow during this decade, and required additional construction and renovation projects. “Kent Council Votes $150 Grant For Hall at Harrison Mills” was the headline for the April 11, 1957, issue of the Advance. This sum represented $1.60 per person living on the mountain and in Harrison Mills, plus an additional $50. Perhaps of utmost importance to community safety, the Highway 9 CPR crossing in Agassiz was finally protected by automatic flashing signals and crossing gates in December of 1957.


Downtown Agassiz began to change in the 1960s following the opening of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. “Renovation Projects Underway in Three Stores In Agassiz” in the April 6, 1961, issue of the Advance demonstrates how the local business owners were trying to keep things “fresh.” The community also wanted to be more connected to other local communities. Reeve James Fraser pushed hard for the completion of the Agassiz-Haig Highway, as noted in the January 5, 1961 issue of the Advance “Reeve Launches Drive to Complete Highway.” There was a “Big Turnout For Ruby Creek Road Opening”, over 100 cars, as noted in the May 18, 1961 issue of the Advance.


Updating community technology and additional community growth, both residential and business, characterized the district in the 1970s. Manco Mobile Home Manufacturing had difficulty breaking ground in 1975 due to the rainy winter, as noted in the Jan. 29, 1975, issue of the Advance. The community’s expansion required the installation of a new sewer system, as well as improved messaging about bicycle safety as the number of vehicles on the roads increased.


The 1986 May opening of the Museum’s historic CP Rail building. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)

Documentation , preservation and education about the community’s heritage began in earnest in the 1980s. The Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society purchased the CPR Station to serve as the community’s museum in 1985 when the district simultaneously purchased Pioneer Park from CPR. “Park purchase highlight of year” was the headline in the Jan. 8, 1986, issue of the Advance. The CPR Station building was moved to the Agassiz Research Station, renovated, and opened as the Agassiz-Harrison Museum on May 23, 1986. The foundation for the museum was poured at the same time as that of the All Saints Anglican Church, which is noted in the article titled “Historic church will be saved” in this same issue. The Agassiz Research Station was named a national historic site, to celebrate the centennial anniversary of its establishment, as noted in “Federal farm to be named historic site” in the April 9, 1986, issue of the Advance.


News in the Agassiz-Harrison Valley was doubly covered during the 1990s by two community papers: the Advance and the Observer. The Advance closed its doors for good at the end of the decade after 70 years of community reporting. The Highway 9 railway crossing was temporarily closed in March of 1991 while the crew laid an omni-pad. The District of Kent celebrated its centennial anniversary in 1995. Agassiz’s business and natural community changed as Kents Fashions closed after 33 years, and the 103 year old sycamore trees along the driveway of the Agassiz Research Station driveway were cut down in 1996.


Our community experienced some unexpected outcomes as tourism increased in the 2000s. The Feb. 25, 2004, issue of the Observer included a headline “Litterbugs turn Rockwell roadside into garbage dump.” Further, there were citizen concerns about washroom facilities in the downtown core. Local merchant Kathi Arnell shared her perspective in the May 9, 2007, issue of the Observer in the article titled “Peed off over lack of washroom facilities.” On a positive note, The Farm House Natural Cheeses opened its doors in June of 2004.


The District of Kent’s popularity with the film industry dramatically increased. Downtown Agassiz was transformed into Wayward Pines, Idaho in 2013 and 2014. Other productions — including Purple Harvest, See, and The Republic of Sarah — followed suit, filming in various locations throughout our community. And the inquiries continue with more film crews scheduled to arrive in early 2020.

RELATED: ‘Aquaman’ actor filming new TV series in Harrison Mills

Did we pique your interest?

Did we pique your interest? Contact the museum (604-796-3545 or to book your appointment to review our newspaper archives. There are many more interesting stories to put you in touch with our community’s past!

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