Harrison Lake

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This article is about the lake in British Columbia, Canada. For lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA, see Harrison Lake (Flathead County, Montana).
Harrison Lake
Harrison Lake.jpg
Location Coast Mountains, British Columbia
Coordinates 49°30′N 121°50′W / 49.500°N 121.833°W / 49.500; -121.833Coordinates: 49°30′N 121°50′W / 49.500°N 121.833°W / 49.500; -121.833
Primary inflows Lillooet River, Silver Creek
Primary outflows Harrison River
Basin countries Canada
Max. length 60 km/37 mi
Max. width 9 km/5.6 mi
Surface area 218 km²/84 mi²
Max. depth 279 m/916 ft
Water volume 33 km³/8 mi³
Surface elevation 10 m/34 ft
Settlements Harrison Hot Springs

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.

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]

Harrison Lake has been implicated in the deaths of at least three people in 2015, and up to 70 people in recent years, due to unusually frigid water temperatures. There is an initiative underway to post warning signs about the risks to life to people attempting to swim in its waters. http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Young+woman+drowns+Harrison+Lake+third+victim+this+summer/11281517/story.html

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.