Agassiz in the 1970s. (Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society)

Kent 125

LETTER: Agassiz streets are gorgeous — a brief history of Agassiz

Reader Harvey Andrew shares his memories of Agassiz in this letter to the Observer

Agassiz had its own Chinatown, located at the corner of East Pioneer and Heath. It had several buildings. A boarding house that housed up to 100 men, a laundry store, a grocery store. At first, the Chinese worked on the CP Railway. When the railroad work ran out, they went hop picking in the Agassiz hop yards.

The Inkman store provided materials and food to the hop pickers. The Fong family owned a store, and they too provided materials and food to the hop pickers. Agassiz for the longest time was the hop capital of the world. Agassiz hops were known the world over.

In the late 1950s to the early 1960s, you needed a ticket to cross the new Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. On the Agassiz side of the bridge was a manned toll booth; he punched your ticket and then you could cross.

October 1962, we had a big powerful windstorm. I was living at Seabird Island at that time. I swear that our house was going to blow right off its foundation and we would land right in our neighbour’s yard. The winds were that powerful. The chainsaws were buzzing the following day in cleanup operations. Had a lot of blown-down trees.

SEE ALSO: Flashback to 1960s Christmases: Can you help us fill in our collection gap?

Winter of 1965, we were hit with a big major snowstorm. At that time, I was living at Ruby Creek and we were literally snowed in. The CPR sent in this bulldozer by flatcar to clean the gravel highway between Ruby Creek and Seabird Island. Agassiz too has do much snow that they were piling it in whatever available spaces. Agassiz street maintenance hit the streets to clean the snow and keep them free of snow.

Mid-1960s to late-1960s, the mountain next to the Experimental Farm was logged. Archie Charles of Seabird Island was one of the loggers. It may have been in the spring of 1967; all the Agassiz high school students got the afternoon off so they could plant trees on that mountain next to the Experimental Farm.

Also in 1967, the Centennial Train stopped in Chilliwack. All the Agassiz school students got the day off from school so that they could tour the Centennial Train.

Spring of 1970, Agassiz was hit with an early morning earthquake. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was powerful enough to rattle the rafters in your attic.

Agassiz, like Chilliwack, had its own Five Corners located where Morrow Road and Highway 9 meet. It cut through the park and where the A&W now stands. East Pioneer and Heath used to be the “Dead Zone,” there was hardly anything there. That area was a small ghost town. Where Subway and Prospera Credit Union now sit, that was all field and two houses stood on that field.

Pacific Stage Lines had a bus service between Vancouver and Hope with service to Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs. It had two daily runs on the south side of the Fraser River to Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs. And it had two daily runs on the north side of the Fraser River to Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs. Over the years, it had three bus stops in Agassiz. The first bus stop was behind Funk’s Agency on Cheam. Then, it moved down the street, across from SuperValu on Cheam. And then it moved to the parking lot where Shopper’s Drug Mart is now.

SEE ALSO: New bus stops, on-call route, coming to Agassiz

Back in the mid-1960s, Atkins Stage Lines out of Chilliwack provided school bus service to the kids at Ruby Creek to the Agassiz high school and Kent school. The bus was shaped like a bread box and it was baby blue in colour. About 15 to 18 kids were picked up at Ruby Creek, with the highway construction of Haig Highway in full swing in the early 1970s.

As they were building the overpass on the Agassiz end of Haig Highway, Scott Road was the temporary highway that connected Agassiz to Hope. All the drivers were courteous, respectful and patient with each other along that narrow, windy and short piece of road. You don’t see that with driver’s these days: they see road construction as a big pain to their daily commute. And they have no regard to the people that hold the stop/slow sign. Old man Norman Morrow’s house on Scott Road was right in the middle of all that road construction and he had to move.

Pre-Hollywood North

In the mid-1970s sometime, a movie was filmed on Harrison Lake. It took place around the 1865 Gold Rush. Some of the local Aboriginals were cast in that movie. After its release, it was shown continuously in the Wee Leprechaun Bar and Grill — now the Railroad Bar and Grill on east Pioneer. It was shown on the state-of-the-art big screen TV technology of the 1970s.

In the late-1970s, scenes from a cheesy science fiction movie were filmed on east Pioneer Street. The then-McLean’s grocery story was one location. Another film location was the house right next to McLean’s, now the Holly Tree Florist and Gifts.

In the mid-1980s, the Rosedale side of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge was a film location for the cop movie Stakeout. It was mostly filmed in Vancouver, and Vancouver was used as Seattle. Other film locations for Stakeout were shot in Harrison Mills. The lead role of Stakeout was Richard Drefuess, of Close Encounters of the Third Kind fame.

SEE ALSO: Film crews descend on Agassiz for ‘Republic of Sarah’

Agassiz is now on the Hollywood North map as a film location. Last but not least, Agassiz is surrounded by ancient Indian villages. These ancient Indian villages are all around Agassiz. My ancestors considered the two small mountains next to Mountain View Road sacred. It had powerful meaning to them.

– Harvey Andrew, Agassiz

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