British Columbia’s Manning Provincial Park
By Caroline M. Jackson
falling into a frigid lake and finding yourself floundering in warm water.
That is reputedly what happened to a prospector in 1859 when he fell out his
canoe in Harrison Lake. This accident subsequently led to the
discovery of its now famous hot springs. Two springs bubble out from the
foot of the mountains each with a different chemical content and up to
temperatures of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Even a lobster would not want to be
cooked at this heat, so the sulfurous mineral waters for the Harrison Hotel
pools and the Public Pool have to be cooled before patrons can bathe.
at the south end of 77 kilometer-long Harrison Lake, the Village is compact
and many motels and restaurants stand shoulder to shoulder along the
picturesque sandy lakeshore. The granddaddy of all accommodations is the
Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa which sits on 45 acres of ground by the
lake. Even though we were not staying the resort, we partook of the
hotel’s sumptuous buffet breakfast which is served in the Lakeside Café.
After our repast, we browsed in the summer craft market, which was set up in
tents along the waterfront. The younger set in our family party opted for
wet rides in the bumper boats while the more mature members enjoyed a walk
around the sandy lagoon which is a popular spot for Canada Geese.
final destination was Manning Park Resort, which is nestled in the heart of
the Cascade Mountains at 1200 meters above sea level. Equidistant from Hope
and Princeton, families traveling along Highway 3 often stop here for a
break and refreshment in the Pinewoods Lodge. Our plan, however, was to stay
for a couple nights in one of the well-equipped cabins which sit in a semi
circle, well back from the road. As soon as we parked, our dog tugged
at her leash in a vain effort to follow some of the cheeky marmots into
their myriad tunnels in the adjacent parkland. Soon under a clear,
star-studded sky, we had a barbecue underway in one of the designated areas
keeping in mind that we were after all, in a heavily treed Provincial Park.
The next morning, we crossed the highway and drove
eight kilometers up the mountain opposite us to Cascade Look Out which
speaks for itself. Another 15 kilometers uphill took us to the largest
publicly accessible sub-alpine meadows in Canada. Just as we were adjusting
our walking boots, a sudden squall of snow-laden wind blanketed out the
parking lot. It took us by surprise, as it was early August. However, the
snowy whirlwind soon vanished revealing a warm sun. Carrying
everything but the kitchen sink, we set off along a level path, which
stretched the 21-kilometer length of the pristine meadows. The
scenery was breathtaking with red Indian paintbrush growing next to yellow
glacial lilies. In one valley we stood spellbound as we watched a herd of
mule deer quietly grazing on lush grass. As I looked over the distant U.S.
mountain range, it was mind boggling to think that hikers can trek along the
transcontinental Pacific Crest Trail from Manning Park to Mexico in six
months. For the less ambitious, the Park boasts nearly 300 km
of hiking trails with a handful being accessible to mountain bikers. In
winter, many of these trails are used by cross-country and Nordic skiers.
down on the valley floor, we spent the rest of the day hiking along the
Strawberry Flats and the Lightening Lake Chain with a wrap-up visit to the
Visitor Center which lies one kilometer east of the Lodge.
took the Trans Canada from Vancouver to Harrison and returned to Vancouver
via the scenic “Sasquatch Drive” (Highway 7) along the north side of the
Fraser. This latter route gave us an opportunity to visit the Kilby Historic
Store and Farm which depicts life as it was in the Fraser Valley during the
1920’s. Situated at Harrison Mills near the Harrison River, the farm was
often subjected to floods, so all the boardwalks are raised above ground
level. Walking into the
Store was akin to entering a time capsule. During our visit, several seniors
were ahead of us and snippets of conversation began with “Do you remember my
mother had one of these?” The pharmacy shelves groan under bottles of
Andrews Liver Salts and Belladonna plasters. Beneath the glass case in an
era when there was time for games instead of TV, there are boxes of Tidley
Winks and Parcheesi. The haberdashery boasts lace handkerchiefs and wooden
darning mushrooms. For ladies there was tan Velva Leg film for a time in the
1940’s when silk stockings were as scarce as hen’s teeth.
After browsing in the store we visited the old Post
Office and the Manchester House Hotel which dates back to 1908. Before
returning to ‘civilization’, we treated ourselves to a bowl of soup and a
scone in the Tearoom. Service was a little slow, but we had to remember we
were after all in another time warp.
World Champion Sand Sculpture Competition at Harrison
takes place in early September.
Manning Part Resort:
Kilby Historic Store & Farm
Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa:
Manning Provincial Park is 175 km east of Vancouver –
approximately a 3hr. drive.
Images by Hamish M. Jackson
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