HISTORY: A new year to reflect on your heritage

Columnist Lindsay Foreman reflects on Agassiz and Harrison’s heritage at the start of the new year

By Lindsay Foreman

At the beginning of each new year, we reflect upon our experiences and relationships, making resolutions for the coming months. Let us not forget, however, to think further back to where we came from, where we’ve been and what we have collected to remember our lives.

Your heritage is truly the tie that binds you to the landscape, to your family, allowing you to be your unique self.

This year, the Agassiz-Harrison Museum will be participating in B.C.’s heritage week from Feb. 18 to 24. The theme is — you guessed it — Heritage: The Tie That Binds.

The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 18 to celebrate Family Day. We will also host a family history Q-and-A on Wednesday, Feb. 20 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and a heritage speaker’s night on Friday, Feb. 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mark your calendars — we can’t wait to welcome you.

This winter, we have been working to refresh our main gallery, updating our exhibits to entice you to visit us more frequently.

During my research, I have encountered countless example of how our community has changed over time, wholeheartedly embracing technological advancements. This month, I’ll share three examples of this visible change within our landscape.

The St. Alice Hotel in Harrison Hot Springs during the 1910s. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)

The St. Alice Hotel was built in 1885 in Harrison Hot Springs, and consistently served locals and visitors alike until it burned down in 1920.

Since then, nearly all evidence of the St. Alice has been removed from the landscape, with the Harrison Hot Springs Hotel taking its place in 1926. Subsequent renovations have occurred during the past century to turn the hotel, and its village, into a resort.

Railway logging near the Chehalis River, circa 1900. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)

The Agassiz-Harrison Valley has supported the logging industry since the mid-1880s. Carts, wagons and sleighs were replaced by rail cars in the late 1880s. Steam-powered equipment and trains drastically improved harvesting and transportation capabilities. Mills were located all along the mighty Fraser River.

RELATED: Logging plan could help Agassiz-Harrison emergency route

Today, most logs harvested in the Agassiz-Harrison Valley are transported by truck. If you spend any time at our museum during the day, you’ll be sure to see at least one truck pass by.

The May 1986 opening of the Agassiz-Harrison Museum at the Agassiz Research Station. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)

Finally, I am enamoured with the 1893 Canadian Pacific Railway building which our museum occupies. (I am currently working to reconstruct the physical changes that have taken place both inside and outside the building since its construction.) This multi-purpose building housed the station agent and his family, stored freight, and served as a place of refuge for waiting passengers.

RELATED: Keeping local history on track

The building has moved across the tracks twice. The first move took it to the Agassiz Research Station in 1985, where it served the community as a museum until 2003. It was at that point that it was moved back to its original location in Pioneer Park.

I look forward to sharing more of my musings and our archival photo collection with you this year. As always, please feel free to contact us with questions or donations at agassizharrisonmuseum@shawbiz.ca or 604-796-3545.



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