Welcome to Harrison Mills
A land of pristine wilderness, cascading mountain peaks, tranquil rivers, and undiscovered treasures.
A place where we honour the salmon and marvel at the world’s largest winter gathering of eagles. Where we gather in community and friendship.
It’s in our nature.
First Nations History
Historically, Harrison Bay is the home of the Scowlitz (Scaulits) people, whose main reserve is on the bay’s western shore across from Harrison Mills, and also of the Sts’Ailes or Chehalis people, whose reserve is located on the north side of the bay along the lower Harrison River and around the river’s confluence with its tributary, the Chehalis. The Scowlitz and Chehalis peoples once had large and famously-carved longhouse villages. An archaeological site on the Harrison Mills side of the bay, the Scowlitz Mounds also known as the Fraser Valley Pyramids, is under investigation by Simon Fraser University and the Scowlitz First Nation, representing an unusual period in the anthropological and cultural history of the Fraser Valley.
The Scowlitz are Halqemeylem-speaking and are part of the Sto:lo cultural group, while the Sts’ailes (Chehalis) identify themselves separately and speak a dialect of Halqemeylem that has similarities with the Lower Lillooet River dialect of St’at’imcets (Ucwalmicwts). Sts’Ailes means “beating heart”.
The opening of Fort Langley in 1827, downriver, began changing the traditional patterns of life for the Scowlitz and Chehalis by the introduction of new goods and also an end to raids by the Euclataws Kwakwaka’wakw (Southern Kwakiutl) of Cape Mudge and other northern coastal tribes.
Charles Fenn Pretty
On the west side of Harrison River, an area called Pretty Flats (or Eagle Bay as some call it) is named after the home-builder and forest baron Charles Fenn Pretty, who traveled to British Columbia from Ontario in 1890. Charles realized that the Fraser River supported impressive runs of salmon, so he seized the opportunity and opened a fish cannery in Queensbrough, which eventually became known as New Westminster. Charles also learned about the large salmon runs in the Harrison River and began active trading with the Chehalis First Nation. He also became a major player in the province’s newly emerging timber industry.
Charles loved the area so much that he built a lodge in 1891 called Fenn Lodge, which is now owned and operated by the Sts’Ailes, offering a private, secluded accommodation with equally private access to the Chehalis River.
Charles Nelson Pretty
Charles Fenn Pretty was also the father of another prominent contributor to the region of Harrison Mills named Charles Nelson Pretty. Charles Nelson Pretty and Rowena Elizabeth Peters were married on October 10, 1917, and had four children – Charles Watson, Rowena Charlotte, James Ivan, and Elizabeth Anne (also known as Betty -Anne). Charles and Rowena resided in Vancouver; however, they were presented with an opportunity to purchase a 160-acre parcel of land that had frontage on the Harrison River. When Charles and Rowena were building their family home, they travelled by train to Harrison Mills and paddled back to Vancouver by canoe.
Today, this property is known as Sandpiper Resort—home to Rowena’s Inn on the River, Sandpiper Golf Course and River’s Edge Restaurant.
Since BC Hydro had not made its way out to the Fraser Valley, Charles built a dam to produce electricity for his home and all of the adjacent buildings, which is still in existence today, and used to generate electricity for the Inn.
Charles Nelson Pretty passed away in 1992 at 102 years of age. The remaining two siblings decided to open their doors and invite the public into their home by converting the manor into a B&B. Having had so many beautiful memories at the estate, they wanted others to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the property. In 1995, their dream became a reality.
Kilby Historic Site
In November 1899, the Harrison River Mills Timber and Trading Company incorporated. A school and church were built in 1901 to meet the growing needs of the people of Harrison Mills. Thomas and Eliza Kilby built and opened Kilby Store in 1906, while the Manchester Hotel was built in 1907.
Today, Kilby is a world-class 1920s living historical site, complete with costumed interpreters. This 5-acre BC Heritage attraction includes a 1906 General Store Museum, Manchester House Hotel & Post Office.