We left Osoyoos on Monday morning in the hot sun and headed up towards Princeton with the final destination of Harrison Hot Springs. I was thinking a day at the Hot Springs would be so relaxing. The road winds through dry, sagebrush filled hills and quickly the terrain turns to a large agricultural valley, followed by a steady climb into very green peaks where some snow-capped mountains can be seen in the background. It’s like a capsule of British Columbia minus the coastal area. Leon and I kept hoping for a glimpse of bears and it seems we should have seen some moose, had there been any in these parts. It was all very picturesque but the weather started to get gloomier and gloomier. I was sneezing like crazy leaving Osoyoos with all that sagebrush, to the point where we stopped for some antihistamine along the way.
We passed some cyclists heading out of Manning Park, towards Harrison. It was raining and cold by then and we wondered how far they would get for the night. There are parts of the highway (many of them) that have narrow shoulders and are not designed for cyclists to coexist with large trucks and recreational trailers. It would not be my idea of a fun vacation.
We took a few moments to stop and visit Manning Park as a possible venue for winter activities with our exchange teacher group. It has a large lodge and several cabins for rent as well as a year round program of outdoor activities, including downhill skiing in the winter. The next time I really miss winter, I’ll be sure to visit! (sarcasm)
Harrison Hot Springs is a quaint area at the end of Harrison Lake. The hot springs are no longer visible but they do heat the local public pool and of course the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa. I would have loved to check us in for a full luxury package of massage and a hot soak, but we settled for a modest campground and a nice walk along the lake and around town. We dropped into the public pool but Leon was not tempted at all. (Probably best because I was to come down with my own version of the Black Plague the next day, but that is a story for another blog post.)
We read the signs detailing the history of Harrison Hot Springs. It explained there had been a flood in 1948 and again 1950 from the Fraser River. You can read the story below from the Harrison Hot Springs Website.
There is a story about miners returning from the Fraser River during the gold rush who discovered “hot springs” when they came ashore. The springs were known in early 1859 when Judge Matthew Begbie made his first circuit of the mining camps. He reported them to Governor James Douglas who gave the settlement the name of “St. Alice’s Well”. John Brown first undertook construction of the St. Alice Hotel in summer of 1886. The hotel was officially opened on November 1, 1886. In 1920 the St. Alice Hotel burned to the ground but was rebuilt sometime later renamed as the “Harrison Hot Springs Hotel”. The hotel was known for soaking in pools and baths, horseback riding, hunting, boating on the lake and fishing.
In 1889 a townsite plan along the lakefront was registered and in 1926 a new subdivision plan was registered, selling lots. In the 1890’s a mining boom began with the discovery of sienna. In 1899 the first school was built at the south end of Harrison Hot Springs.
Excursions by sternwheeler from New Westminster to Harrison Hot Springs were frequent with cruises on Harrison Lake and around Echo Island. During the early years, many logging camps were situated on Harrison Lake, including a sawmill at Port Douglas. Logging in and around Harrison Lake continued over the years and still remains to this day.
Colonel Naismith came to Harrison Hot Springs in 1946 and was instrumental in in attaining a role as community leader. He was also elected as a Village trustee and named pro-tem chairmain of the Harrison Hot Springs Property Owners Association. One of the projects was to construct a community hall as a memorial to local veterans who served in World War 1 and 2. The Memorial Hall was constructed over seven years and completed by the Community Association in 1951.
In 1948, the Fraser River flooded much of the Village but the community was able to recover from its losses. In 1950 flooding again took place in Harrison Hot Springs but provincial authorities agreed to contribute to the construction of a dyke.