Fred L. (Honeymoon) Harris was president of the International Fruit and Farm Land Co. His nickname came from his Kootenay Lake ranch, which he dubbed Honeymoon Place. Courtesy Derek Pollard

Fred L. (Honeymoon) Harris was president of the International Fruit and Farm Land Co. His nickname came from his Kootenay Lake ranch, which he dubbed Honeymoon Place. Courtesy Derek Pollard

PLACE NAMES: Honeymoon Place

A notorious grifter who arrived on Kootenay Lake in 1910 thought he’d found paradise — and new suckers

Two hundred forty-third in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Of all of the hucksters who tried to sell fruit land in the West Kootenay to gullible investors in the early 20th century, none could match Fred Louis (Honeymoon) Harris (1875-1930) for sheer chutzpah. Harris breezed into the area around 1910 and bought up land around Kootenay Lake, which he then resold to others sight unseen.

Harris made his headquarters at Deer Creek on the east side of the lake, opposite Mirror Lake. This spot was first mentioned in the Kaslo Kootenaian on April 6, 1911: “The location is ideal in summer and Mr. Harris has selected ‘Honeymoon Place’ as the name of his ranch.”

As he explained, “It’s ideal from every standpoint — that’s what a ‘Honeymoon’ is supposed to be.”

But it must have been a lonely existence for Harris’ wife Elsie. In Pioneer Families of Kaslo, Annie May Norman recalls how Mrs. Harris “would row across the lake, even in storms, and Mother would spot her and her son, tossing in the waves … Mrs. Harris said that bear and deer were often in the small orchard they tried to grow in that wilderness. There were no roads and no neighbours.”

For each of his dubious developments, Honeymoon Harris combined an existing name with “Gardens” or “Orchards.” As a result, Bluebell Gardens, Argenta Gardens, Fry Creek Gardens, Kootenay Lake Orchard and Gold Hill Orchards were all briefly part of the local lexicon.

He advertised locally, nationally, and in his own Kootenay Magazine — a beautiful publication, notwithstanding the fact its main purpose was to sucker people into buying unsuitable farming land. (A secondary purpose was to share photos of his infant son, Fred Jr., of whom he was extremely proud.)

Despite portraying himself as a paragon of virtue, Harris had a chequered past. Born in Wisconsin, he started out in the newspaper business and was editor/publisher of the South Dakota Good Templar and McLean County Miner.

In 1904, he was charged in North Dakota with impregnating a young woman out of wedlock — at the time a crime in that state, at least if the mother complained. He denied paternity but a jury convicted him and the judge ordered him to pay child support. However, he was unable to post a bond and spent 110 days behind bars.

Afterward Harris became a scab during a printers’ strike in Fargo, where he was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed gun. He pleaded guilty and was fined $1.

He then established a real estate office in Winnipeg where he got in trouble in 1907 for forging cheques. He was sent to Lloydminster to stand trial but the outcome is unknown.

According to the Ward County Independent of Minot, North Dakota, “Harris ran ads in the N.D. state papers, but many declined to run the ads at all, knowing Harris’ reputation.”

Harris moved further west, establishing the Grandview Press and Northwest Irrigation Magazine in Yakima County, Wash., but it wasn’t long before he was arrested again for writing more bad cheques.

Somewhere along the way he was also sentenced to four years in prison for assaulting a woman in Canada, but was paroled after a year.

It was easier to cover your tracks back then — nobody could Google your name, so his unsavory reputation didn’t precede him on Kootenay Lake. He established himself as an energetic hustler and many took the bait, much to their regret.

As Steve Sawczuk recalled in Where the Lardeau River Flows, Harris “sold people like my father just on his word and when they came to see it there was nothing, just rock bluffs.”

Maitland Harrison added: “Honeymoon Harris was an awful scoundrel … He sold mostly to Prairie people who bought it without seeing it. They were told it was wonderful. When they saw it they just dropped whatever payments they had made and forgot all about it.”

Harris silenced or drowned out his critics for a few years and Honeymoon Place was even added to the CPR’s sternwheeler timetable. But by 1915 he’d outlived his welcome and moved to Alberta, where he started another newspaper and restyled himself Old Man Harris. It didn’t change his ways.

Next stop was Billings, Montana where he established the Montana-Wyoming Oil and Mineral Journal. By this time he and his wife had separated, but he soon remarried and had two daughters.

In 1919 Harris relocated to Louisville and launched the Kentucky Oil Journal. He was charged with mail fraud for allegedly selling fake oil certificates in two companies. At the end of his trial, the judge ordered three of four charges dropped, but the jury convicted him on the remaining count and he was fined $1,000. He paid with a certified cheque.

Harris moved on to Fort Worth, Texas to pull the same scam. He was targeted by the National Vigilance Committee of the Associated Advertising Clubs as part of a campaign against sellers of stock in fraudulent oil companies. He was arrested in 1923, convicted, and sentenced to a year in Leavenworth penitentiary. This led to a deportation hearing, because Harris had been granted Canadian citizenship in 1909.

That’s the last sign of him until his death in Spokane on Jan. 4, 1930, age 54.

Harris’ first wife settled in Winnipeg after they separated but in 1942 she and Fred Jr. moved back to Honeymoon Place and they lived there until her death a decade later.

Honeymoon Place is no longer on the map; nor is Honeymoon Creek, which ran through the property.

A second Honeymoon Place existed near Creston, and was mentioned in the Nelson Daily News of May 16, 1921 when Doris Winch married George Huscroft of Wynndel: “The wedding is quite notable in that the groom is the fourth resident of Honeymoon Place, on the west side of Duck creek, to joint [sic] the ranks of the benedicts within a year.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Fred L. (Honeymoon) Harris was president of the International Fruit and Farm Land Co. His nickname came from his Kootenay Lake ranch, which he dubbed Honeymoon Place. Courtesy Derek Pollard

Fred L. (Honeymoon) Harris was president of the International Fruit and Farm Land Co. His nickname came from his Kootenay Lake ranch, which he dubbed Honeymoon Place. Courtesy Derek Pollard

Argenta Gardens was just one of Honeymoon Harris’ many real estate scams. Courtesy Derek Pollard

Argenta Gardens was just one of Honeymoon Harris’ many real estate scams. Courtesy Derek Pollard

Honeymoon Harris (left) is seen on the cover of rare copy of his Kootenay Magazine, published in 1912-13 to promote various real estate schemes. Courtesy Derek Pollard

Honeymoon Harris (left) is seen on the cover of rare copy of his Kootenay Magazine, published in 1912-13 to promote various real estate schemes. Courtesy Derek Pollard

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

L-R: Scott Robertson, Abigail Robertson, Caleb Bernhardt, Vijesh James and Oliver Marsh (missing) took part in the online Korean Consul General Cup. Photo: Submitted
Local martial artists win at online provincial tournament

Kootenay Martial Arts had five athletes participate in the Korean Consul General Cup

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

It was a quiet week for COVID-19 cases in the West Kootenay. Illustration: B.C. Centre for Disease Control
Two new cases of COVID-19 in Nelson area

The cases were confirmed for the week of Jan. 10 to 16

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Vaccine rollout is focused on health care workers first, especially those dealing with long-term care facilities. (Nathan Denette - Canadian Press)
General public shouldn’t expect vaccines until fall: Interior Health South Okanagan Similkameen

Interior Health focused on vaccinating long-term and first-line care workers

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Most Read