From the moment you drive down the lane with a commanding view of the Harrison River, a sense of relaxation sets in. Rowena’s Inn on the River is a gorgeous country estate located on lush greens adjacent to one of the most picturesque golf courses in the province.
On our recent stay, my husband and me checked in to one of the several cabins dotted along the property, near ponds and nestled in between trees. You can also stay in one of the Inn’s rooms on the second floor.
Cabins are fully equipped with oversize beds and comfortable mattresses, stone fireplaces, kitchenettes, and high-speed wifi.
Missing are televisions and phones – lending your time spent to reading by the fireplace, enjoying a sumptuous breakfast spread at the table by the window, or simply unwinding.
Upon arrival, a bottle of wine and local cheese plate is waiting for your enjoyment.
We noticed a large jetted tub in the bathroom. Candles are set by the tub, and what an experience, as you can set on the lights to change colour in the bath while enjoying the birds and frogs chirping outside. There’s also a separate walk-in shower at the other end of the large bathroom.
Each morning, a wicker hamper was delivered to our cabin just past 9. Inside is a full breakfast spread, with eggs, sausage, bacon, house potatoes, jams, muffins, and a pot of coffee for two. The food is packed in containers to keep things warm; everything was delicious and filling. We sat at the window overlooking the pond and greens beyond, relishing our lazy morning starts each day.
Bird lovers will be pleased to learn that the area is host to 180 species of birds. In November, the annual Fraser Valley Eagle Festival takes place (this year on November 15 and 16), drawing visitors from all around the province. Harrison Mills is considered to have the greatest concentration of eagles during that time of year in the entire world!
For the second year straight, Rowena’s Inn has set a live eagle cam up a 175-foot tree further along the property and there’s currently a pair up there getting ready for a newborn. The flatscreen TV inside River’s Edge Restaurant shows the eagle couple in action.
Owner Betty-Anne Faulkner is the last of four remaining children of Charles Nelson Pretty and Rowena Elizabeth Peters, who were married in 1917, and that’s where the history of this charming place begins.
While Charles and Rowena lived in Vancouver, they were offered a chance to buy a 160-acre parcel of land. The couple decided to buy the land, build a home on the property, and commute by train from Vancouver to Harrison Mills. They’d then set a canoe into the river and paddle to their riverfront home!
Charles, with his entrepreneurial spirit, turned the property into a dairy farm, later entering the logging industry. At one time, he owned the largest privately-logged company in BC. After a long and successful life, Charles passed away in 1992, at the ripe age of 102.
At the time, Ivan and Betty-Anne were the the last two remaining siblings. They’d spent so many wonderful years here that they chose to convert the manor into a B&B in 1995. Ivan started the Sandpiper Golf Course next door.
The two named the inn in memory of their mother and sister. Ivan passed away in 2001; Betty-Anne still lives on the property with husband Doug Faulkner.
Together with their nephew, General Manager Christopher Lepine, the three share an active role in the estate’s day-to-day operations.
Betty-Anne showed us around the estate, filled with antiques and period furniture, some having been graced by royalty and celebrities alike. The dining table was purchased at an estate sale at Vancouver’s Hycroft House.
While the table was still at Hycroft, the Prince of Wales, King George VI, and pianist Rachmaninoff were guests of honour, dining at this very table.
Charles and Rowena travelled all over, collecting antiques over the years. This 1912 Steinway was once played by Jimmy Durante, in the late 40’s, recalls Betty-Anne.
The copper railing shown above was taken from the original Hotel Vancouver back when it was located on Granville Street.
Another fond memory of Betty-Anne’s is coming home from school to warm up in the dining room. She lifted the carpet to show us the heating grill with room underneath for loading wood in order to warm the room! We were amazed by the variety and beauty of the furnishings everywhere we turned.
Golf enthusiasts of all levels can enjoy the par 72, 6,500-yard Sandpiper Golf Course covering some beautiful terrain with the following features:
– Fully-serviced golf Pro Shop
– On-course mobile food and beverage carts
– Electric power cart and pull-cart rentals
– 160-person capacity event tent
– Custom golf group events
– Caters to all players with four tee boxes
If you’re looking to get away for a short break, or to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary, this is the place to go, just under two hours from Vancouver. Our rested selves were hesitant to leave! Rowena’s Inn on the River is located at 14282 Morris Valley Road in Harrison Mills, BC.
We received one night with breakfast, dinner at River’s Edge Restaurant, and high tea at the Inn courtesy of Pretty Estates Resort. The second night was offered at a media rate.