History of our community
On May 9, 1927, the Honorable Charles Stewart, Minister of the Interior, announced the establishment of Prince Albert National Park with a seasonal headquarters at Waskesiu Lake. Waskesiu Lake was considered the finest and most easily accessible of a chain of northern lakes, particularly because of the presence of a large natural beach area.
As early as 1925, a small subdivision had been surveyed at Waskesiu Beach by the Forestry Branch and a few lots had been made available for business and residential purposes. Anticipating a demand for summer cottages and commercial lots soon after the Park's establishment, a survey for a new townsite was completed in 1928.
The development of the townsite continued throughout 1929 and subsequent years. A large breakwater built in 1930 provided shelter for swimming and docks, developing the strong aquatic recreation base of the community. Public works projects undertaken between 1932 and 1935, primarily to relieve massive unemployment, resulted in development of a golf course, public campgrounds, tennis courts, and a number of log buildings displaying superb craftsmanship (including the Nature Centre, the Waskesiu Community Hall, and the Waskesiu Golf Course clubhouse.)
A seasonal residential area on Prospect Point was developed in 1928, augmented in 1938 by a survey of the Lakeview subdivision. Surveys expanded the business community in 1933, providing bungalow camps and hotel accommodation for visitors, with a further expansion in 1950.
The initial access road, Highway 263 from the Park's south gate to Waskesiu, was completed in 1928 with subsequent improvements to all weather status by 1952. In 1969, a new access road (Highway 264) from Provincial Highway 2 replaced Highway 263 as the most favored access road to Waskesiu.
Reorientation of the entrance to this new access along Montreal Drive changed the locational advantage of businesses and Park facilities.
The Waskesiu townsite was the administrative centre for the Park only during the summer months for the first 30 years following the Park's establishment. During that time the Park headquarters was shifted to the city of Prince Albert for the winter months. By 1959, Park maintenance and operations staff were quartered in the community year-round. The Superintendent and administrative staff continued to commute seasonally to Prince Albert until 1967 when the present Administration Building was completed.
National Parks Policy also evolved during the period of the community’s establishment. The Park was established a few years prior to enactment of the 1930 National Parks Act. Awareness of Canadians regarding the spirit and intent of the Act has grown and evolved into formal expressions of widely supported policies in Canada's National Parks. These sometimes conflict with past practices or established visitor uses and local expectations, particularly by those with a vested interest in the management direction of the Park, or those whose long-time association with Waskesiu pre-dates this policy evolution.
WASKESIU COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS