We recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend at Rowena’s Inn on the River, a lovely B&B situated on the edge of the Harrison River. Located in Harrison Mills, this estate is at the foot of Hemlock Valley and is roughly a 20-minute drive away from Harrison Hot Springs, which many locals are probably familiar with. The property is 100% family-owned, as it was purchased by logging magnate Charles Nelson Pretty and his wife Rowena Elizabeth Peters in the 1920’s. It served as a family home throughout the decades, until it was finally converted into a bed and breakfast in 1992. Today the 160-acre property is home to the bed and breakfast, Sandpiper Golf Course (an 18-hole course), and River’s Edge Restaurant. It sits facing the Harrison River and is owned and managed by Betty-Anne, the youngest daughter of Charles and Rowena.
The main inn building has 5 rooms upstairs, most of them equipped with their own bathrooms, and offers a true bed and breakfast experience for guests. There are also 4 cottages on the property, each with heated slate floors, deep-soaker jacuzzi tubs, and wood-burning fireplaces with firewood readily available. We stayed in Fenn’s Cottage for 2 nights and took full advantage of the soaker tub and fireplace. The layouts of the cottages are identical, with the exception of 2 of the 4 having an unobstructed view of the river. Most of our travels involve staying at hotels, so this was a very different experience for us. The cottage was quaint, with large windows, a large bed, and a little dining table, but it was the fireplace and comfortable leather armchairs that really caught our eye. One of the cottages is also pet-friendly, so that might be great news for pet owners looking for a guilt-free escape.
Not only has the family home been converted into a full bed & breakfast, but it also boasts a rich history, which is evident from the many black and white photographs of Rowena and Charles, their children, and the surrounding area from decades back that are displayed right inside the entrance of the main guesthouse. In 1992, Charles Nelson Pretty passed away at the age of 102 years old. The two surviving siblings at that time, James Ivan and Betty-Anne, decided to convert their manor into a bed & breakfast and they opened their doors to the public in 1995. An 18-hole golf course was added by Ivan, and the bed & breakfast was named in memory of their mother and sister.
In July 2001, Betty-Anne purchased Ivan’s share after he passed away, and became the sole owner of the property. She resides at the property with her husband, Doug Faulkner. They both play an active role in the development and decision-making of the estate along with her nephew, and General Manager, Christopher Lepine.
Left: Past the stairs and registration desk is a large dining table, which was acquired from Hycroft Manor in an auction. Over the years, several notable people including Charles, Prince of Wales, have sat and dined at this table. Right: It was too chilly to go for a dip, but I’m sure the large outdoor pool is a popular spot for guests during the summer.
We were fortunate to have met Betty-Anne during our stay, as she told us stories of her childhood while staying here, and how she returned to Harrison Mills after living in West Vancouver for several years. The furnishings truly enhance the character of the home as they hold so much history, and we learned that the railing on the stairs pictured above was acquired from the original Hotel Vancouver when it was torn down in 1949.
Guests staying in the cottages are delivered signature deluxe breakfast every morning at 9:15am. They come packed up in cute picnic baskets. Breakfast items change each day, and we got salmon eggs benedict one day and veggie omelettes the next day.
We also enjoyed afternoon tea in the main building. Reservations are recommended, as seating is limited in the drawing room. We sat at one of the large couches by the window, surrounded by plush cushions. It was the perfect setting to enjoy a pot of tea and delectable snacks, while admiring the antique furnishings around the room. The spread that afternoon was quite filling, and the scones with Devonshire cream were quite enjoyable.
In addition to being a B&B, the property also has a full service restaurant closeby that is open for lunch and dinner. We enjoyed an intimate dinner at River’s Edge Restaurant, which started off with a salad and mussels with fries. I accidentally ordered a full-size salad instead of a half-size, but still managed to finish it all. Our entrees arrived and they were all quite delicious. Dennis ordered the prime rib with mashed potatoes, and I had the duck breast with potato croquette and seasonal veggies. With some extra room to spare, we even shared a strawberry cheesecake for dessert.
The inn is a lovely getaway all throughout the year, with it being the most affordable during the winter season. It’s also a popular wedding venue, with romantic outdoor scenery and large, beautifully furnished entertainment rooms. We’re glad we finally got to check out this place. It’s a great place to unplug and it’s perfect for a mini weekend getaway.