Harrison Hot Springs is located at the south end of Harrison Lake, which at 60 kilometers long, is the largest body of fresh water in southwestern BC. The hot springs were revered as a "healing place" by the Sto:lo peoples, who travelled by canoe to benefit from their waters. The Hot Springs are called "Qwo:ls" by the Sto:lo and they have described the location as a transformer site of people cooking who were turned to stone and their cooking water became the hot springs.
A party of three gold miners, returning from the Cariboo Gold fields are said to be the first people of European extraction to benefit from the waters. Attempting to make the shore during a storm, one of the paddlers fell into the seemingly frigid lake and astonished his companions by inviting them to join him in the warm water!
Judge Begbie is said to have reported the Hot Springs, then called St. Alice's Well, to Governor Douglas in his 1859 report of his first official circuit through the gold fields. The area has drawn tourists from all over the world ever since the St. Alice (now the Harrison Hot Springs) opened in 1886, as a hotel and bath house. Once termed "The Spa of Canada" an early bath house was built on pilings over the lake adjacent to the springs. Soon after the Canadian Pacific Railroad reached Harrison Mills in 1885, visitors arrived by river stern wheeler through the turn of century.
In 1895, Charles Inkman started a business that was to become the Harrison Lake Supply Company. Mr. Inkman soon had a thriving business based from a store on what is now Esplanade Avenue and a connecting dock which extended out from the beach. Logging remained the mainstay of the local economy for most of this century. In 1949, the Village of Harrison Hot Springs was incorporated as a municipality.
Harrison Hot Springs takes its name from Harrison Lake, named by Governor Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company after its then Deputy Governor Benjamin Harrison. (Akrigg).