History

The Waskesiu Wilderness Region includes the Lakeland area, the Big River area and the Prince Albert National Park area. Big River was built as a company town for the lumber industry and has a rich history of logging, forestry and tree-planting. Prince Albert National Park was officially opened in 1928 by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. King “gave” the park to the citizens of Prince Albert as a gift for electing him as Prime Minister when he was the leader of the Liberal party and needed a seat to run in.

The most famous resident of the Waskesiu area was Grey Owl. A former trapper, Grey Owl became convinced that conservation was needed to protect Canada’s natural resources. He was in high demand across Europe as a First Nations speaker and is often considered Canada’s first conservationist. Grey Owl wrote several books and is known for his connection and advocacy of beavers. His cabin, on the shores of Ajawaan Lake, was open to the water and his pet beavers, Rawhide and Jellyroll, built a lodge inside the cabin. His cabin is known as Beaverlodge and is now the most popular backcountry destination for hikers and paddlers in the WWR.

The Waskesiu Golf Course was designed by world-renowned golf course designer Stanley Thompson. It opened in 1935. The Lobstick Tree was probably the most famous tree in the area. First Nations groups in the area removed the middle branches of spruce trees to produce Lobstick Trees on the shores of lakes as navigation markers.  After the Lobstick tree on thegolf  course died a community celebration was held to honour it and remove the tree.  A second tree was planted behind the original and it will have some of its branches removed once its roots have become established.

The Waskesiu Wilderness Region encompasses the very important transition area between the Aspen Parkland and the Boreal Forest. Our area includes three biomes: fescue grassland, aspen stands and mixed-wood boreal forest. This diversity in habitat leads to an abundance of plants and animals in the area. The grasslands are home to the only free-ranging plains bison still on their natural range. The main lakes within the Waskesiu Wilderness Region include: Cowan Lake, Delaronde Lake, Christopher Lake, Emma Lake, Anglin Lake, Waskesiu Lake, Crean Lake, and Kingsmere Lake.