Harrison Lake

Harrison Lake is the largest lake in the southern Coast Mountains of Canada, being about 250 square kilometres (95 mi²) in area.[1] It is about 60 km (37 mi) in length and at its widest almost 9 km (5.6 mi) across. Its southern end, at the resort community of Harrison Hot Springs, is c. 95 km east of downtown Vancouver. East of the lake are the Lillooet Ranges while to the west are the Douglas Ranges. The lake is the last of a series of large north-south glacial valleys tributary to the Fraser along its north bank east of Vancouver, British Columbia. The others to the west are the Chehalis, Stave, Alouette, Pitt, and Coquitlam Rivers.

Harrison Lake
Harrison Lake
LocationCoast Mountains, British Columbia
Coordinates49°30′N 121°50′W
Primary inflowsLillooet River, Silver Creek
Primary outflowsHarrison River
Basin countriesCanada
Max. length60 km (37 mi)
Max. width9 km (5.6 mi)
Surface area218 km2 (84 sq mi)
Max. depth279 m (915 ft)
Water volume33 km3 (27,000,000 acre⋅ft)
Surface elevation10 m (33 ft)
SettlementsHarrison Hot Springs

At the north end of the lake is a small First Nations community of the In-SHUCK-ch Nation, Port Douglas, known in the St'at'imcets language as Xa'xtsa (ha-htsa). There are three hot springs along the shores of the lake or near it, including near Port Douglas, at Clear Creek, a tributary of Silver River, and at Harrison Hot Springs. Doctors Point on the lake's northwest shore was a village and Transformer site, with a large rock painting depicting either the spirit of the winds that rule travel on the lake, or a medicine man turned to stone by the Transformer.[2]

The lake has imposed a higher risk to recreational users than other BC lakes as it is colder than many of the lakes in the surrounding areas. Harrison Lake was implicated in the deaths of three people in 2015, and five total since 2008.[3]

The back half of Harrison Lake, seen from the air.

The main waterflow coming into the lake is the Lillooet River, where there is a small bay named Little Harrison Lake. At the head of this bay was one of British Columbia's main ghost towns, Port Douglas; today on its eastern shore is the rancherie (village) or the Port Douglas Band of the In-SHUCK-ch Nation. Halfway down Harrison Lake on its eastern shore is the valley of the Silver River, also known as the Big Silver River, one of its tributaries being the Little Silver.

Opposite Silver River on the west shore of Harrison Lake is Twenty-Mile Bay. Mid-lake between the Silver River and Twenty-Mile Bay is the northern end of the lake's longest and largest island, aptly named Long Island, 9.5 km long, 2.6 km wide. The other main island of any size in the lake is Echo Island, 4 km long and 2.2 km wide. It is offshore from Harrison Hot Springs, and is immediately east of the forested canyon of the Harrison River at the lake's outflow. The Harrison enters the Fraser near the community of Chehalis.

Harrison Lake was important in the early history of British Columbia as one of the water links on the Douglas Road, which accessed the goldfields of the upper Fraser during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of 1858-60. It was named "Harrison" by Hudson's Bay Company Governor Simpson, after Benjamin Harrison, a director (later Deputy Governor) of the Hudson's Bay Company.[4][5]:106



  1. "Harrison Lake". BC Geographical Names.
  2. "Doctors Point". BC Geographical Names.
  3. Ministry of Public Health and Dafety, Office of Chief Coroner. "BC Coroners Service, Accidental Drowning Deaths, 2008-2015" (PDF). Accidental Drowning Death. Government of British Columbia. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  4. "Harrison Lake". BC Geographical Names.
  5. Akrigg, G.P.V.; Akrigg, Helen B. (1986), British Columbia Place Names (3rd, 1997 ed.), Vancouver: UBC Press, ISBN 0-7748-0636-2
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