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Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park

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Prince Albert National Park covers 3874 square kilometre in central Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and is located 200 kilometres (124.3 mi) north of Saskatoon. Though declared a national park March 24, 1927, it had its official opening ceremonies on August 10, 1928 performed by Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, OM, CMG was the dominant Canadian political leader from the 1920s through the 1940s. He served as the tenth Prime Minister of Canada from December 29, 1921 to June 28, 1926; from September 25, 1926 to August 7, 1930; and from October 23, 1935 to November 15, 1948...

. The park is open all year but the most visited period is from May to September. Although named for the city, the park's main entrance is actually 80 km (50 mi) north of Prince Albert
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Prince Albert is the third-largest city in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is situated in the centre of the province on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. The city is known as the "Gateway to the North" because it is the last major centre along the route to the resources of northern Saskatchewan...

 via Highways 2
Saskatchewan Highway 2
Highway 2 is a provincial highway in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It is the longest Saskatchewan Highway, at 809 km . The highway is partially divided and undivided. However, only about near Moose Jaw, near Chamberlain, and near Prince Albert are divided highway...

 and 263
Saskatchewan Highway 263
Highway 263 is a highway in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It runs from Highway 2 to Highway 264 in the Prince Albert National Park at Waskesiu Lake. Highway 263 is about 56 km long....

 which enters the park at its southeast corner. Two additional secondary highways enter the park: No. 264
Saskatchewan Highway 264
Highway 264 is a highway in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It runs from Highway 2 to Highway 263 in the Prince Albert National Park at Waskesiu Lake. Highway 264 is about 14 km long....

, which branches off Hwy. 2 just east of the Waskesiu townside, and No. 240, which enters the park from the south and links with 263 just outside the entry fee-collection gates.

The park ranges in elevation from 488 metres (1,601 ft) on the western side to 724 metres (2,375.3 ft) on the eastern side.

Waskesiu is the only town within the park, located on the southern shore of Waskesiu Lake. Most facilities and services one would expect to find in a multi-use park are available, such as souvenir shops, small grocery stores, gas station, laundromat, restaurants, hotels and motels, rental cabins, a small movie theatre (which adds showings on rainy and cold days), Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police , literally ‘Royal Gendarmerie of Canada’; colloquially known as The Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force’) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal,...

 (RCMP) detachment, camp grounds, three marinas, many beaches, picnic areas, tennis courts and lawn bowling greens. The facilities and services combine recreational and nature experiences. Notably, the park contains the Waskesiu Golf Course designed by famed golf course architect Stanley Thompson
Stanley Thompson
Stanley Thompson was a Canadian golf course architect. He was a co-founder of the American Society of Golf Course Architects....

 who also designed the course in Banff National Park
Banff National Park
Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park, established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains. The park, located 110–180 kilometres west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, encompasses of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine...


The park also contains the cabin of naturalist
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

 and conservationist
Conservationists are proponents or advocates of conservation. They advocate for the protection of all the species in an ecosystem with a strong focus on the natural environment...

 Grey Owl
Grey Owl
Grey Owl was the name Archibald Belaney adopted when he took on a First Nations identity as an adult...

, on Ajawaan Lake
Ajawaan Lake
Ajawaan Lake is a lake in the northern boreal forest portion of Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, 700 metres from the north end of Kingsmere Lake via a wide portage trail. It is known mainly as the home of Grey Owl, famed naturalist, from 1932 to 1938...


The development of the park as a recreation destination as led to the region immediately southeast of the park boundaries - locations such as Christopher Lake, Emma Lake, Sunnyside Beach, and Anglin Lake, themselves becoming popular recreation destinations.

Until the establishment of Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park is one of Canada's newer national parks, located in southern Saskatchewan, and one of 43 parks and park reserves in Canada's national park system...

 in the 1980s, this was the province's only national park.


Prince Albert National Park represents the southern boreal forest region of Canada. It is a rolling, mostly forested landscape that takes in the drainage divide between the North Saskatchewan
North Saskatchewan River
The North Saskatchewan River is a glacier-fed river that flows east from the Canadian Rockies to central Saskatchewan. It is one of two major rivers that join to make up the Saskatchewan River....

 and Churchill Rivers
Churchill River (Hudson Bay)
The Churchill River is a major river in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada. From the head of the Churchill Lake it is 1,609 km long. It was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and governor of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1685 to 1691...


The very southern part of the park is predominantly aspen
Populus section Populus, of the Populus genus, includes the aspen trees and the white poplar Populus alba. The five typical aspens are all native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high altitudes in the mountains. The White Poplar, by...

 forest with an understory of elderberry, honeysuckle, rose and other shrubs and openings and meadows of fescue grassland. The fescue grasslands are considered ecologically important because of their rarity; outside the park, most of the native fescue grasslands have been lost to the plough or to urban development. The aspen forest/meadow mosaic in the southwest corner of the park is particularly unique as it sustains a growing herd of more than 400 Plains Bison
Plains Bison
The Plains Bison or Common bison is one of two subspecies/ecotypes of the American Bison, the other being the Wood Bison . Furthermore, it has been suggested that the Plains Bison consists of a northern and a southern subspecies, bringing the total to three...

, the only free-ranging herd in its original range in Canada that has a full array of native predators, including wolves.

Most of the park is dominated by coniferous forests, with the cover of jack pine
Jack Pine
Jack pine is a North American pine with its native range in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains from Northwest Territories to Nova Scotia, and the northeast of the United States from Minnesota to Maine, with the southernmost part of the range just into northwest Indiana...

 and white spruce
White Spruce
Picea glauca is a species of spruce native to boreal forests in the north of North America, from central Alaska east to Newfoundland, and south to northern Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine; there is also an isolated population in the...

 becoming more prevalent the farther north one looks. Woodland caribou from a regional population that is declining due to loss of habitat to forest logging range sometimes into the park, but their core habitat lies outside the park to the north. White-tailed deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

, elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

 and, locally, moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

 are the common ungulates. Wolves are fairly common.

The park is noted for its numerous lakes including three very large lakes - Waskesiu, Kingsmere and Crean. The water quality is high and fish populations robust, except for lake trout
Lake trout
Lake trout is a freshwater char living mainly in lakes in northern North America. Other names for it include mackinaw, lake char , touladi, togue, and grey trout. In Lake Superior, they can also be variously known as siscowet, paperbellies and leans...

 that were commercially fished to near-extinction in Crean Lake in the early 20th century and, in spite of protection, have yet to recover their former numbers. Northern pike
Northern Pike
The northern pike , is a species of carnivorous fish of the genus Esox...

, walleye
Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch...

, suckers
Catostomidae is the sucker family of the order Cypriniformes. There are 80 species in this family of freshwater fishes. Catostomidae are found in North America, east central China, and eastern Siberia...

 and lake whitefish
Lake whitefish
The lake whitefish , also called the Sault whitefish or gizzard fish, is a species of freshwater whitefish from North America. Lake whitefish are found throughout much of Canada and parts of the northern United States, including all of the Great Lakes. A valuable commercial fish, they are also...

 are among the most common larger fish. One of Canada's largest white pelican
White Pelican
The Great White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus also known as the Eastern White Pelican or White Pelican is a bird in the pelican family...

 colonies nests in an area closed to public use on Lavallee Lake in the northwest corner of the park, and pelicans, loons, mergansers, ospreys and bald eagles are common in summer. Otters are seen regularly, year round. Winter is an especially good time to find otters as they spend considerable time around patches of open water on the Waskesiu Lake Narrows and the Kingsmere and Waskesiu Rivers.


The boreal forest extends northerly into the Canadian Shield
Canadian Shield
The Canadian Shield, also called the Laurentian Plateau, or Bouclier Canadien , is a vast geological shield covered by a thin layer of soil that forms the nucleus of the North American or Laurentia craton. It is an area mostly composed of igneous rock which relates to its long volcanic history...

 area from the agricultural zones of southern Canada. Prince Albert National Park lies south of the Shield in landscapes that were shaped by Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 glaciers that deposited glacial till, sand and other materials that were later colonized by trees and shrubs. The ecosystems of Prince Albert National Park are lush and productive. During the warm, humid summers there is abundant insect life and numerous fungi, sustaining a remarkable diversity of boreal birds and other wildlife. There are many lakes and rivers creating wonderful water systems for a variety of waterfowl.


Some of the many animals are elk (wapiti), moose, black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

, red fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

, beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

, deer, badger
Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the weasel family, Mustelidae. There are nine species of badger, in three subfamilies : Melinae , Mellivorinae , and Taxideinae...

, otter, red squirrels, wolf. A herd of plains bison roams in the southern areas of the park where grasslands and woodlands mix. Flycatchers, Tennessee warbler
Tennessee Warbler
The Tennessee Warbler, Oreothlypis peregrina, is a New World warbler. It breeds in northern North America across Canada and the northern USA. It is migratory, wintering in southern Central America and northern Colombia and Venezuela, with a few stragglers going as far south as Ecuador. It is a...

s, double-crested cormorants, red-necked grebe
Red-necked Grebe
The Red-necked Grebe is a migratory aquatic bird found in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Its wintering habitat is largely restricted to calm waters just beyond the waves around ocean coasts, although some birds may winter on large lakes...

s, brown creeper
Brown Creeper
-Description:Adults are brown on the upperparts with light spotting, resembling a piece of tree bark, with white underparts. They have a long thin bill with a slight downward curve and a long tail. The male creeper has a slightly larger bill than the female...

s, nuthatches, three-toed woodpecker
Three-toed Woodpecker
Three-Toed Woodpecker has been split into the following 2 species:*American Three-toed Woodpecker*Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker...

s, bald eagle, osprey, great blue herons, many species of ducks, and the common loon are just a few of the water fowl and birds which make their home in the park. There are 21 species of fish recorded in the park, including Iowa darter, yellow perch
Yellow perch
The yellow perch is a species of perch found in the United States and Canada, where it is often referred to by the shortform perch. Yellow perch look similar to the European perch, but are paler and more yellowish, with less red in the fins. They have six to eight dark, vertical bars on their sides...

, brook stickleback
Brook stickleback
The Brook stickleback is a small freshwater fish that is distributed across the US and Canada. It grows to a length of about 2 inches. It occupies the northern part of the eastern United States, as well as the southern half of Canada...

, spottail shiner
Spottail Shiner
Spottail Shiner or is a small to medium sized freshwater minnow. Spottail Shiners are members of the phylum Chordata and class Actinopterygii, which are the ray-finned and spiny ray fish. It is a member of the order Cypriniformes and family Cryprinidae, which consist of the carps and minnows...

, cisco
Cisco (fish)
The ciscoes are salmonid fish of the genus Coregonus that differ from other members of the genus in having upper and lower jaws of approximately equal length and high gillraker counts...

, northern pike (locally called "jack fish"), walleye
Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch...

 (locally called "pickeral"), and lake trout.


BP - before present.

There are archaeological traces of pre-history in the park reserve in the form of tools which have been located.
  • Early Pre contact (11,000 to 7500 BP)
  • Middle Pre contact (7500 to 2000 BP)
  • Late Pre contact (2000 to 200 BP)
  • Post Contact or Historic (200 BP to Present).

The Rocky or Woods Cree
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations / Native Americans in North America, with 200,000 members living in Canada. In Canada, the major proportion of Cree live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, although...

 would be found using this area during the 17th to 19th centuries.

At Waskesiu Lake was an early Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 fur trade post between 1886 and 1893.

In the early 20th century the industries of fishing and logging were carried out in this boreal forested area. The large 1919 forest fire eliminated the logging industry.

The park was the subject of a short film in 2011's National Parks Project
National Parks Project
The National Parks Project is a Canadian music and film project. Released in 2011 to mark the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Parks of Canada system, the project sent three Canadian musicians and a filmmaker to each of 13 Canadian national parks, one in each province and...

, directed by Stéphane LaFleur and scored by Andre Ethier
Andre Ethier (musician)
Andre Ethier is a Canadian rock singer-songwriter and visual artist, who was formerly associated with the indie rock band The Deadly Snakes. He has also released three solo albums....

, Mathieu Charbonneau and Rebecca Foon.

Grey Owl

The Dominion Parks Service hired Grey Owl
Grey Owl
Grey Owl was the name Archibald Belaney adopted when he took on a First Nations identity as an adult...

, Archibald Stanfield Belaney (1888-April 13, 1938) as the first naturalist. He lived on Ajawaan Lake
Ajawaan Lake
Ajawaan Lake is a lake in the northern boreal forest portion of Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, 700 metres from the north end of Kingsmere Lake via a wide portage trail. It is known mainly as the home of Grey Owl, famed naturalist, from 1932 to 1938...

 in Prince Albert National Park and wrote of wilderness protection: Pilgrims of the Wild (1935), Sajo and the Beaver People (1935) and Empty Cabin (1936).

Scenic driving tours

There are a few main roads through the park.
  • The Narrows Road along Waskesiu Lake's southern shore, with many points of interest and picnic areas, ending at a 200 metre narrows, where there is a campground.
  • Lakeview Drive or Scenic Route #263 which provides access to several other lakes: Namekus, Trappers, Sandy (also called Halkett); as well as many trails.
  • Highway 264
    Saskatchewan Highway 264
    Highway 264 is a highway in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It runs from Highway 2 to Highway 263 in the Prince Albert National Park at Waskesiu Lake. Highway 264 is about 14 km long....

     to Kingsmere River, which accesses a small boat or canoe launch site mid-way between Kingsmere and Waskesiu lakes, and a trail through a railway portage to Kingsmere Lake.


There are many picnic sites within the park, set up with picnic tables, scenic views, campfire pits and swimming areas.
  • Namekus Lake
  • Sandy Lake
  • South Gate
  • Meridian Day
  • South Bay
  • Trippes Beach
  • King Island
  • Paignton Beach
  • The Narrows
  • Waskesiu River
  • Waskesiu Landing (Main Marina)
  • Point View
  • Birch Bay
  • Heart Lakes
  • Kingsmere


These trails are less than 2 kilometers in length. They each have descriptive guided brochures which help to identify the natural sights along the way.
  • Boundary Bog Trail
  • Mud Creek Trail
  • Treebeard Trail
  • Waskesiu River Trail
  • Kingsmere River Trail
  • Amiskowan Trail
  • Ice-Push Ridge Trail
  • Narrows Peninsula Trail
  • Spruce River Highlands Tower Trail

There are longer trails for the backpacker and hiker which vary from 13 kilometers in length and to 54 kilometers (return).
  • Kingfisher Trail
  • Grey Owl Trail
  • Freight Trail
  • Kinowa Trail
  • Elk Trail
  • Fish Trail
  • Hunters rail
  • Spruce River Highlands Trail


Surrounding Waskesiu Lake there are several beaches to take in swimming during the hot summer months. There are also good beaches at the south end of Kingsmere Lake (boat or trail access), Namekus Lake, and Sandy Lake.


Bagwa Canoe Route and Bladebone Canoe Route are two canoe routes of varying lengths. As well the park offers a multitude of lakes which are amenable to the canoe enthusiast. Amiskowan, Shady, Heart, Kingsmere and Waskesiu lakes are just a few of them.


Power boats are only permitted on some Prince Albert National Park lakes. Motor boats are allowed on Waskesiu, Crean, Kingsmere, Sandy and the Hanging Heart Lakes. There is a limit of 40 horse power motors on Kingsmere. The Waskesiu Marina, Heart Lakes Marina and the Narrows have boat launches (permit and fee required) and docks. Boat, canoe and kayak rentals are available at all three, by the hour or by the day. The Waskesiu Marina has a concrete breakwater. A permit is required to use boat launch facilities. Personal watercraft are not allowed on any lakes. Canoes, kayaks and sail boats are allowed on all waters.


Just as those who used the waters for commercial fishing in the early 20th century, campers may also find relaxation fishing for Northern Pike, Walleye, Lake Trout, Whitefish, or Yellow Perch. The park requires purchase of its own licences to fish in the park. Limits and seasons are different than in the province of Saskatchewan. Some areas, e.g., spawning grounds, are closed to fishing.


At this park one can choose from serviced or unserviced 'front country' camping or go by canoe/boat and backpacking, and choose 'back country' camping. Most back country camping occurs on Kingsmere and Crean lakes. Permits and fees are required for all camping, whether front or back country. Front country sites can be reserved by website or telephone.

Open fires are allowed at campsites (Excluding Red Deer Campground), after payment for a "fire permit" (fire permits are not required in picnic areas).

The following are accessible by automobile and can accommodate trailers and motorhomes:
  • Beaver Glen Campground on the east margins of the Waskesiu town site has electricity to half of its 213 sites (no water or septic hook-ups), washrooms with hot and cold water and showers, central septic tank service and drinking water. Sites can be booked in advance through the Parks Canada Campground Reservation Service through a toll free number or via online reservation. Details about how to reserve can be found at the Parks Canada website.
  • Red Deer Campground, formerly "Trailer Court" is to the immediate South-West of Beaver Glen in the Waskesiu townsite. This site has power, water and sewage hookups at each of its 161 pull through sites and is designed for large trailers and motorhomes. There are no open fires are allowed at Red Deer. Sites in Red Deer can be booked in advance in the same way as Beaver Glen.
  • The Narrows Campground has flush toilet washrooms with cold water only, and no other services. Sites at The Narrows are First Come First Served.
  • Namekus, Trappers, Sandy Lakes have septic tank toilets, water source (not drinkable without treatment). These sites are also First Come First Served.

There are a series of boat-accessible campsites - the level of waves that can come up with overnight weather changes on Waskesiu, Kingsmere and Crean lakes, provide some risk for boats that cannot be completely pulled out of the water at night.

Interpretive programs

The nature centre in the Waskesiu townsite has information about interpretative walks, films, and activities, and will assist in providing park visitors with interpretive programs for their choice of activity, tours and special events. There are evening interpretative programs at Beaver Glen Campground at an outdoor theatre.


Cycling is permitted on roads anywhere and on most trails. The following trails are specifically designated for bicycles.
  • Anglin Lake Trail - 12 km return
  • Freight Trail - 27 km one way
  • Elk Trail - 39 km one way
  • Fish Lake Trail - 12 km one way
  • Hunters Lake Trail - 12 km one way
  • Westside Boundary Trail - 37 km one way
  • Red Deer Trail - three loops totalling 17 km
  • Kinowa Trail - 5 km one way
  • Amyot Lake Trail - 15.5 km loop

Bicycle rentals are available in Waskesiu townsite.

Wildlife and bird watching

Flycatchers, Tennessee warblers, red-necked grebe, brown creepers, nuthatches, three-toed woodpeckers, bald eagle, osprey, great blue herons, common loon are just a few of the many bird species to be seen in the park. Elk, black bear, fox, moose, beaver, deer, otter are a sampling of wild life of the park area.

Although most people visit the park in summer, the best wildlife watching is often in the winter. Wolves often travel on the frozen lakes and along the ploughed roads, and elk and deer are common right in the town of Waskesiu. Open water at the Narrows on Waskesiu Lake and where the Waskesiu River exits from the lake makes otter sightings very reliable. Foxes, including the red, cross and silver colour phases, are frequent sightings in winter too.


Stanley Thompson
Stanley Thompson
Stanley Thompson was a Canadian golf course architect. He was a co-founder of the American Society of Golf Course Architects....

 designed an 18 hole golf course in the park. It was built in the early 1930s. Its official name is the Waskesiu Golf Course, but is often called "The Lobstick" after a tournament it hosts each year.

See also

  • List of National Parks of Canada
  • List of Saskatchewan parks
  • Monarchy in Canada
    Monarchy in Canada
    The monarchy of Canada is the core of both Canada's federalism and its Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Canadian government and each provincial government...

  • Monarchy in Saskatchewan
    Monarchy in Saskatchewan
    By the arrangements of the Canadian federation, the Canadian monarchy operates in Saskatchewan as the core of the province's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy; As such, the Crown within Saskatchewan's jurisdiction is referred to as the Crown in Right of Saskatchewan, Her Majesty in Right...

  • National Parks of Canada

External links