Sandpiper Resort’s History
The Pretty Family’s Story
The Pretty Family saga comes with so many twists and turns. Charles Nelson Pretty and Rowena Elizabeth Peters were married on October 10, 1917. Shortly after, they birthed four children – Charles Watson, Rowena Charlotte, James Ivan, and Elizabeth Anne (also known as Betty -Anne). Charles and Rowena chose to share a home in Vancouver, BC with Charles’ parents.
While residing in Vancouver, they were presented an opportunity to purchase a 160- acre parcel of land from a woman, Mrs. Jackson, who had lost her husband, but they allowed her to stay in her home for as long as she wished. The property had frontage on the Chehalis and Harrison Rivers extending out under the river for some distance. When Charles and Rowena decided to build a home on the property, they would travel by train from Vancouver to Harrison Mills and paddle by canoe to their home on the river!
Charles the Businessman
Charles Nelson Pretty had business acumen and was extremely entrepreneurial. Originally, he had a Timber Brokerage business with his father, and continued operations for a number of years after his father passed away. To earn additional streams of income, he decided to turn the property into a dairy farm and even purchased extra land from the Aboriginal Band across the river. He also developed a large silvertip fox farm where the cottages are currently located. Charles Nelson Pretty then entered the logging industry and, at one time, it was the largest privately owned logging company in all of B.C.
Despite his admirable work ethic, Charles Nelson Pretty balanced his life by spending time with family and friends. If Charles and Rowena weren’t hosting friends, as Rowena was known for her amazing culinary abilities, they would spend their time at sea. Charles designed a 52-foot pleasure yacht called the ‘Voyageur III’.
Spending Time Together as a Family
Charles and Rowena had the boat for many years and spent several fun-filled days travelling up the river with their children. Charles build a dock at the front of the house where he moored the boat during the summer in high water season. Charles and Rowena also belonged to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club where the family enjoyed many wonderful excursions.
Constructing the Manor
Since BC Hydro had not made its way out to the Fraser Valley, Charles had to build a damn in order to produce electricity for his home and all of the adjacent buildings. It is still in existence today, and used to generate electricity for the Inn.
During the winter season of 1947 and 1948, the climate was bitterly cold. One early morning, the barn and workshop caught fire as the flames spread quickly through to the hayloft area. Sadly, the cattle died quickly due to the oxygen being sucked so quickly from the building.
The loss was devastating for the family. The only items saved, other than the root-house made of stone, were the dairy walk-in fridge and the freezer room. It was later assumed that the cause of the fire was from leaving too many of the heaters on. Following this disastrous winter was the famous flood of 1948, which mercifully avoided the Pretty property because of the
The eldest daughter, Rowena Charlotte, was tragically killed in a car accident on April, 1968. She was only 45 years old and left behind her husband Christopher Michael Foster Lepine and six children. Five months later, the eldest son, Charles Watson, passed away due to a massive heart attack, and he was was 49 years old, leaving behind his wife Dorthea and two children. In less than six months, Charles Nelson and his wife Rowena lost two of their children! Christopher Lepine, who was named after his father and is one of the six children that Rowena birthed, is the General Manager at Pretty Estates Resort today.
Converting the Manor into a Boutique Resort
After living a long and wonderful life, Charles Nelson Pretty passed away in 1992 at 102 years of age. The remaining two siblings, James Ivan and Betty- Anne, decided to open their doors and invite the public into their home by converting the manor into a B&B. Having had so many beautiful memories at the estate, they wanted others to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the property. In 1995, their dream became a reality.
Ivan had a dream of building an 18-hole golf course, and so it was implemented. Today, it is called Sandpiper Golf Course. In memory of their mother and sister, they named the inn Rowena’s Inn on the River.
After Ivan passed away in July 2001, Betty-Anne bought out Ivan’s share, and is now the only remaining sibling from that generation. She sold the resort in 2016 but continues to reside on site, welcoming guests as they arrive. The resort has been rebranded as Sandpiper Resort home to Sandpiper Golf Course, Rowena’s Inn on the River, and the Clubhouse Restaurant.