The Aberdeen House and Bella Vista Hotel on Pioneer Avenue, circa 1890s. Beautiful Mount Cheam overlooks the Agassiz-Harrison Valley. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)

Kent 125

LETTER: Agassiz has undergone astounding changes

A response to Mayor Sylvia Pranger’s message for the the District of Kent 125th anniversary

Dear Editor,

The mayor’s thoughtful letter about Agassiz’s 125 years provoked some opinions in my mind about Agassiz being a quiet agricultural community.

Fifty years ago my wife and I arrived in British Columbia leaving a busy town in England called Hemel Hempstead, which had, once upon a time, been a holiday destination for King Henry VIII. Last autumn my wife and I returned to England for a month, but were not surprised to see very few changes had taken place. The tall Kodak headquarters had been demolished because the high alumina concrete was deteriorating so rapidly that the buildings were unsafe, but everything else seemed pretty much the same. The internationally acclaimed “magic roundabout” had been installed at the junction of six busy roads, but with few exceptions, it seemed just about the same place we had left in 1969.

Not so Agassiz.

SEE ALSO: Kent Institution prison guard assaulted by inmate

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The mayor seemed to overlook the fact that Agassiz has undergone astounding changes in just a couple of decades. In fact, the schools seem to be the very few buildings still standing. Kent Prison arrived to keep company with Mountain Prison, Rimex, Britco and a small industrial park with a fancy fire hall have been constructed, but the greatest change of all is Pioneer Avenue. Pioneer Motors is the only survivor, every single other retail outlet has either vanished or changed its face. I regret the passing of Bert Ledoux’s hardware store, one of the most interesting shops I have ever visited, and the grain elevator by the railway. The sprawling ranchers on Morrow Road and Highway 9 have been replaced by hundreds of town houses, and perched up on the hill are huge water tanks providing, at long last, a municipal water supply.

The face of agriculture is changing as well. Many of the dairy farms are now robotic, and other farmers have sold their milk quota and moved into berry production and shrubs.

SEE ALSO: Recent jump in U.S. butter imports? All smooth, says Canadian dairy farmers

Change is not restricted to Agassiz. In just 30 years Harrison has transformed from a shanty village to a mass of condominiums and a sprawling high end residential housing development behind Miami River.

But I have to agree with Mrs. Pranger, Mt. Cheam is pretty much unchanged.

Yours truly,

Ed Monro

Agassiz

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