Tourism Harrison Newsletter

Sts'ailes...the Beating Heart

Sts'ailes... the beating heart







North of Highway 7, running along the west side of the Harrison River, lies the village of Sts'ailes, whose traditional territory includes Harrison Hot Springs and Harrison Lake and includes the watersheds of Harrison Lake and River, Chehalis River and the Fraser River. The name Sts'ailes, meaning the Beating Heart, comes from halfway up the west side of Harrison Lake. In this area, Xals, the Transformer, battled a once-powerful shaman called the Doctor and turned him to stone. 

In an effort to preserve and limit him, Xals broke apart pieces of his body and spread them throughout the territory, creating landmarks. Where his heart landed became known as the village of Sts'ailes. The usual English name Chehalis is identical to that of the much more numerous Chehalis people of southern Puget Sound in Washington. By Sts'ailes tradition, the southern Chehalis were separated from their homeland as a consequence of the Great Flood. Fish and seashell fossils found in abundance near Mystery Creek (cited as one of the meeting places of Sasquatch) deep in Sts'ailes territory, seems to support this Native American Hypothesis. The culture in Sts'ailes runs very strong. They take great pride in what they do and how they carry themselves particularly through their ceremonies and in their spirituality. They "live" the culture.

The people of Sts'ailes perform many ceremonies such as The First Salmon Ceremony and Ground Breakings for new buildings.  The drummers of Sts'ailes have  vast knowledge of traditional songs and their artists are well known in the territory and beyond. With a focus on traditional teachings, personal growth and high academic standards at all levels, the Sts'ailes education department is a model of educational achievement.

From pre-school age, Children of the community are gently guided through an education curriculum that includes cultural education and the Halq'emeylem language.  Through workshops, children and teens are being taught traditional skills such as drum making, drumming and singing.  If Sts'ailes village is the Beating Heart of the territory, the community school is the Beating Heart of the Village.

What today is known as the Sasquatch Crossing Eco Lodge, was first a private estate built on Sts'ailes traditional territory in 1903.  About 15 years ago, it was remodeled into an Eco Lodge. 

Then in the spring of 2009, Sts'ailes purchased the beautiful building and the Eco Lodge is now fully owned and operated by the band.  Recently, the band opened a renowned retreat facility known as Lhawathet.  The new building provides accommodations, catering and meeting space for conferences and gatherings, business retreats and meetings. Archaeological findings indicate that Sasquatches were known by humans up to 10,000 years ago.  The word Sasquatch comes from the Coast Salish word Sasqac, which is the name of a spiritual creature who is believed to have the ability to change to human form at will. Pictures courtesy of, see also

Harrison Lake and the Cariboo Gold Rush

Harrison Lake and the Cariboo Gold Rush




British Columbia had two big gold rushes, one in 1858 on the Fraser River and the other in 1862 in the Cariboo district. In each, tens of thousands of men (and a few women) headed north to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island to obtain a valid "mining license" which permitted them to prospect for gold.

In 1858 Fort Victoria was tiny. No more than 500 immigrants lived on southern Vancouver Island at the time but within two months the population grew to over 20,000. Victoria became a tent city as miners camped while they purchased their mining licenses, and all the supplies - equipment, food, clothing, they would need for their journey to the gold-fields.

The Cariboo Gold Rush is the most famous of the gold rushes in British Columbia although it attracted fewer Americans than the original Fraser rush. One reason may have been the American Civil War, with many who had been around after the Fraser gold rush going home to take sides.

The Douglas Road, aka the Lillooet Trail, Harrison Trail or Lakes Route, was a goldrush era transportation route from the British Columbia Coast to the Interior. Over 30,000 men are reckoned to have travelled the route, although by the end of the 1860s it was virtually abandoned due to the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road. The route consisted of a series of wagon roads connected via lake travel. There were four lakes on the route, From Harrison Lake to the road's commencement at Port Douglas, Little Lillooet Lake, Lillooet Lake, Anderson Lake and Seton Lake, the foot of which is within a few miles of the Fraser River at today's town of Lillooet and from where the last few miles of wagon road completed the official Douglas Road portion of the road to gold.

The traditional story of the Harrison Hot Spring's discovery, talks about one member of a nearly frozen group of miners who were returning down the lake from Port Douglas, falling into the water from being either over anxious to reach the shore or from weakness. In any event he was so happy with the warmth, that his companions soon joined him.

Harrison Beer Fest

Harrison Beer Fest




The beer flowed freely last weekend at the Harrison Beer Fest, the first of what we hope will be an annual event. Opening night saw three breweries tap their casks in a race to see who would sell out first. Parallel 49 took and held the lead and two hours before the anticipated ending, all three casks were empty and kegs were brought out to supplement what had already been poured. The British Pub themed Cask Night, sold out well before the opening, the mood was festive, the food delicious, and the beer excellent.

Saturday afternoon’s Beer Fest opened its doors to sell out crowds. 15 breweries were present to show off their locally made product and spread the word about the quality of B.C. craft beer.

The displays were awesome, the reps friendly and knowledgeable, the brew plentiful and we were treated to plenty of great appetizer styled foods created in the kitchens of the Harrison Resort and Spa. The Peoples choice of best beer at the Beer Festival were:

1st Prize - Parallel 49 Brewing Company
2nd Prize - Phillips Brewing Company
3rd Prize - Vancouver Island Brewer

To round the weekend out, the Oktoberfest dance was a blast. The Oompah band, the Fraser Valley’s own, Black Forest Boys kept people up and dancing and toes tapping throughout the evening. The many and varied costumes worn by the attendees ran the gamut from Rambo to authentic Bavarian and German lederhosen and Heidi style beer hall skirts. Again, kudos to the Resort for the Bavarian inspired food.

Given the success of the Harrison Beer Fest, we are happy to confirm that this will be an annual event and next year we will make sure that we don't run out of draft at the Oktoberfest dance.

The Beer is Here!

The Beer is Here!




For 60 years, hops, a basic ingredient in beer, were the main industry in the Agassiz Area of British Columbia. At the height of the business, 300 acres of a total holding of 450 acres were planted with hops. The first hop yards, planted in 1892, belonged to the B.C. Hop Company.

Hops were harvested from August to early October every year and during that time Agassiz prospered. With the arrival of a thousand pickers, the town's normal population swelled to 15 hundred and business flourished.

Many town merchants increased their sales by setting up small stalls beside the hop yards to serve the pickers. Reliable men with teams of horses were hired to plow and cultivate the hop fields. In the early days pickers came exclusively from First Nation families but later the work force included locals and Chinese immigrants who had come to Canada to work on the CPR line. Many plants were destroyed by downy mildew around 1935 and as it began to spread, pesticides were used but the sprays proved to be expensive and ineffective. Still, from 1939 to 1945 the hop industry boomed in Agassiz. The Famous Fraser River flood of 1948 annihilated the hop fields, the industry rapidly declined and in 1952 the hop yards moved to the Creston Valley. The fertile soil that had for 60 years nourished a bounty of hops, was planted with corn and hay as dairy farms began to prosper in the Agassiz area.

This October, Harrison Hot Springs will present the first of what we hope will be an annual event, The Harrison Beer Fest. Get your tickets early and join us on October 26th and 27th for what already promises to be this years hottest hop happening!!

Visitor's Guide