From Tanzania To Retire In Harrison Hot Springs

Sam Kassam of Harrison Pizza wants to retire in Harrison Hot SpringsI hadn't expected to write an article on retiring in Harrison Hot Spings, BC, but then Sam Kassam hadn't grown up dreaming of the day he would retire in Harrison Hot Springs, either.

Like many baby boomers, I find myself caring for my mother, whose health and mental state took a dive in November. By the time Christmas break came around, I was glad we had had to cancel our planned trip to Puerto Vallarta, but I still needed a break, even a break from caring for Mom. My brother and his family stepped in and I got four days away.

I did what most visitors to Harrison Hot Springs do. I swam and soaked in outdoor and indoor naturally heated mineral springs. I slept in a luxurious bed. I had a great massage. I was waited on hand and foot. I ate a bit of hotel food.

Then I went prowling around town, which doesn't take long at all. With a population of about 1500, Harrison Hot Springs doesn't take up much space on the shore of Harrison Lake.



Harrison Pizza in Harrison Hot Springs

I was hungry for pizza and happily found a pizzeria. And that's where I met Sam.

Since I was the only customer due to the heavy snow, and since I'm always curious about why people make the choices they do, while I munched on a Harrison Special Pizza -- highly recommended -- I asked Sam where he was from.

I was taken aback by his reply. Sam was born in Tanzania in East Africa, a country that dips its toes into the Indian Ocean. What, I wondered, had brought him to Harrison Hot Springs?Why people retire where they do is always a personal story, and Sam's decision was no different. He told me there were two reasons he decided to retire in Harrison Hot Springs.
  • His sister
  • The beach
Harrison Lake in winterWithout his sister, Sam probably wouldn't have ever seen Harrison Hot Springs even though it is a pretty town nestled between mountains. But she and her husband own the Husky gas station, and Sam, who was living in northern Alberta, came for a visit.

That's when the beach caught his heart. Sam grew up with the beaches of Tanzania and childhood memories of walking barefoot across the sand with a favorite uncle stirred as he took off his shoes to walk along the beach at Harrison Lake.

Coincidentally, the pizzeria in Harrison Hot Springs was up for sale, and Sam had experience in the restaurant business.

I'm sorry that the day I visited was so blustery that Sam had told his staff not to come in. I imagined from the inviting warm colors on the walls and the eclectic artwork that this could be a cheery place to work. But I did get to see Sam in action with one regular customer -- the mailman who stopped in at the end of his route -- and one neighbor. The interactions with both showed me that even though Sam is far from his birth home, he has found a new home where he is getting ready to retire in Harrison Hot Springs.

You can share your story about what you think is the best place to retire.

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