Harry Beach was one of Mission’s pioneers who was instrumental in the creation of the town and district. Born in 1888 at Toddington, Gloucestershire, England, he settled in Mission in 1915 and assumed essentially every position of importance in the area. He first went into partnership with R.P. King forming King-Beach Ltd., a big jam factory on the Mission Flats which “became a great employment asset in the community” and furnished the men’s ward in the first Mission hospital. In 1931, he established a market in England for BC Surplus Small Fruits, a fruit-growers’ organization from the Fraser Valley. Beach developed a successful market for BC strawberries until exchange rates killed the business.
Through his keen interest in civic affairs, Harry became actively involved with numerous organizations to make Mission a better place to live, work and raise a family. He served as the secretary of the Mission City and District Board of Trade, during which time he was instrumental in having a bell placed at the Horne Avenue railway crossing to prevent further tragic accidents, and pressed for the planking of the CPR bridge across the Fraser for both vehicle and train use.
Mr. Beach was the first president of the Canadian Red Cross in the Mission area and also sat on the provincial board. We was also the first president of the local Boy Scouts of Canada organization and sat on the National Council for many years. In addition, he was the first president of the Ambulance Society.
During the catastrophic 1948 flood, Harry Beach took charge of the Red Cross, who provided shelter and over 33,000 meals to those affected in this area. Harry gave selflessly to Mission and brought people together during the best and worst of times. He related, “I shall never forget the work it entailed for my wife, myself and many others. For five nights I never slept in a bed, just tried to snatch a little sleep on Main Street. Calls from stranded people came in day and night…. I cannot single out any organization in Mission which did a greater service than another, as all were worthy of great praise for their wonderful work in time of need.”
Harry went on to serve on the Hospital Board for several years as finance chairman. He also became the coroner for the Mission area, judge of the Juvenile Court, and judge of the small debts court. A longstanding, well-known and respected citizen, Harry led a life of exemplary service to the community.