Rowena’s Inn on the River is situated amidst uncommon beauty—all one needs to do is look up. Yes, the stars shine brightly over this remote 160-acre plot of land set upon the bank of British Columbia’s Harrison River, but the region’s most revered aerial sightings are of bald eagles. A rare spectacle in other parts of the world, here, enormous eagles fill the sky.
“We get lots of eagles…” notes proprietor Betty-Anne Faulkner (neé Pretty) during a walk through the inn, which features a well-positioned riverside gazebo for the sole purpose of on-property bird watching. “There are also coyotes and the occasional bear, though, honestly when we lived in West Vancouver we saw more bears than we do here.” Warm and welcoming, Faulkner oversees the English-style manor resort with a keen eye for detail and an innate sense of style. Born in Vancouver, Betty-Anne started visiting the property as a baby, back when it was used as the Pretty family summer cottage. In 1995, Faulkner and her brother opened the property as an inn, and in 2004 she took it over fully. Today’s resort remains in its original location, within a wooded enclave in the heart of the Fraser Valley, about an hour and a half drive northeast of Vancouver.
The main estate accommodates guests in five upstairs rooms, two of which have balconies overlooking the river. There is a private airstrip along the side of 17th fairway, and the resort’s Sandpiper golf course is one of the region’s best. The clientele is diverse, and there are few requests made that prove too demanding for the hotel team to fulfill. “We had a group from Russia come in to fish sturgeon and salmon,” says Betty-Anne, noting that Harrison River has one of the largest salmon spawning grounds for all of B.C. “They requested a whole extra case of vodka to be sent over one evening. So, we had a server go up to Agassiz to pick it up.”
Further detail-orientation is reflected by the inn’s rare, decorative antiques. For instance, Rowena’s Inn houses the bed that reportedly belonged to famed Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba (also of Peach Melba fame); beautiful 17th-century sitting room chairs; and ornate antique candelabras atop a hand-carved dining room suite from Scotland. Says Faulkner in a near-whisper: “The auctioneer told my parents that it joined King George VI when he came across to Canada in the nineteen-thirties.”
While Rowena is the epitome of summer cabin-getaway ideals, it is at its coziest in the cooler months. Stay in one of four self-contained log cabins on the property, each of which comes decked out with a stately fireplace—a round of firewood is set up behind the grille, and a fresh-cut cord is at arm’s reach—as well as deep Jacuzzi tubs, heated slate bathroom floors and elegant four-poster beds. There is also the requisite Scrabble set, and the plushest robes. It’s a challenge to step outside, but do, especially for those eagles. Peak viewing season begins in the cold winter months, and kicks off with the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival at the end of November.
If the weather gets too blustery, fear not: there is a TV in the breakfast room showing a real-time glimpse inside a nearby bald eagle’s nest via live camera. Beautiful British Columbia, indeed.
This year’s 20th Annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival runs November 21 and 22.
Rowena’s Inn on the River, 14282 Morris Valley Road, Harrison Mills, British Columbia, Canada V0M 1L0, 877-796-1001 ext. 230.