Tourism Harrison Newsletter

Harrison Bald Eagle Festival

Harrison Bald Eagle Festival





The Laroan and her captain Steve Dunn, took thirty passengers on a three hour cruise of the Harrison River on an incredably beautiful Sunday afternoon. The emerald water created by the minerals of the gracier water which feeds Harrison Lake and River, added a touch of whimsy to the incredable wilderness landscape. Bald Eagles resting in the branches of deciduous trees looked alot like ornaments on christmas trees and the birds out hunting at times filled the air.  It's hard to imagine outright laughter in this setting, but sure enough it filled the boat when we were able to witness a tug of war between a young eagle and a seagull as they squabbled over some made in BC Sashimi.

Did you know that when a bald eagle loses a feather on one wing, it will lose a feather on the other in order to keep its balance? Or, that it's believed that bald eagles choose one mate for life. To impress each other, males and females perform special courtship dances in the sky. The dance involves locking talons and cart-wheeling through the air.

The bald eagle is Canada's largest bird of prey. It gets its food by direct capture, scavenging and stealing prey from other animals. Its diet consists primarily of fish. However, if fish are scarce, eagles refuse to go hungry and instead feast on rabbits, squirrels, birds and even young deer! It builds the largest nest of any North American bird, up to 4 meters (13ft) deep, 2.5 meters (8.2ft) wide, and one metric ton (1.1tons) in weight and reaches sexual maturity at four years or five years of age.

Bald Eagles are not actually bald; The word bald comes from the word piebaldwhich is used to describe something that is spotty or patchy.

The adult is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The sexes are identical in plumage, but females are larger than males. The beak is large and hooked. The plumage of the immature is brown.

The Bald Eagle population was severely affected in the mid-20th century by a variety of factors, among them the thinning of egg shells attributed to use of the pesticide DDT.  Female eagles laid eggs that were too brittle to withstand the weight of a brooding adult, making it nearly impossible for the eggs to hatch.

Other factors in Bald Eagle population reductions were a widespread loss of suitable habitat, as well as both legal and illegal shooting.  In 1984, the National Wildlife Association listed hunting, power-line electrocution, and collisions in flight as the leading causes of eagle deaths. Bald Eagle populations have also been negatively affected by oil, lead, and mercury pollution, and by human and predator intrusion.

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.

Visitor's Guide