February is Heritage month and Heritage Week is Feb. 16-22, with this year’s theme: “Main Streets: At the Heart of the Community.”
Pitt Meadows’ main street, Harris Road, predates the incorporation of the municipality, when it was little more than a dirt track running from Hammond Road on the southern end to Dewdney Trunk Road at the northern end.
The northern extension of Harris Road was completed soon after incorporation due, in part, to the effective lobbying of the developers of the Archbishop’s subdivision located on the banks of the Pitt River, just to the south of what is now Swan-e-set golf course.
The subdivision, intended for Catholic resettlement in the Vancouver area, never got off the ground, but at least access to the area was completed.
Today, Harris Road is lined with condominiums, small malls, and other businesses, such as restaurants and coffee shops, garages and gas stations, and beauty parlours.
But at one time, the road was lined with farms and a few mechanics, a general store and post office, a church and a school.
The rest of the land was bush and forest.
In 1914, two trains per day, one in the a.m. and one in the p.m., passed by and few vehicles, and likely no cars, used the route.
Today, more than 18,000 vehicles pass up and down the road each day and approximately 25 trains cross the route between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Harris Road was paved in the 1940s, given a traffic light at Lougheed Highway in the 1970s, widened in the 1980s, and a few years ago extended to Airport Way and given raised islands down most of its centre.
Most buildings that lined its route in the early days are now gone, but a surprising number remain and have managed to survive, in part, due to the evolution of their use.
Such is the case for the General Store and post office, which evolved into a family residence, then into the home of the Pitt Meadows Museum and Archives.
One, the community church, has remained in continual use for the purpose it was originally built, making it the oldest such building in Pitt Meadows.
In celebration of our community’s main street, the museum will be at the Pitt Meadows Community Library on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 1:30 p.m. to present “Buildings through Time: Harris Road Then and Now.”
Join us to celebrate the end of Heritage Month and learn more about the heritage buildings and sites that made and make up Harris Road, Pitt Meadows’ main street.
– By Leslie Norman, curator at Pitt Meadows Museum.