history

History Timeline

 

Recent History & Fort Walsh

Settlement History

Parks History

Changes in Natural Environment

 

Recent History

Fort Walsh History

 

1859
John Palliser led an expedition from Fort Edmonton across the plains to Cypress Hills. He described the hills as a perfect oasis in the desert.

1869-70
The Hudson's Bay Company relinquished its charter to Rupert’s Land, which included the Cypress Hills. The newly established Dominion of Canada assumed sovereignty over the territory re-named the North West Territories.

1870s
Métis families occupied and re-occupied a winter village site along the northwest slope.

1872-74
Four American whiskey trading posts were established in the Cypress Hills – the stage is set for the Cypress Hills Massacre.

1873- Cypress Hills Massacre
A bloody battle took place when a group of American wolf hunters lost some horses and attacked a nearby camp of Assiniboine. The event was the catalyst that brought the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) out West. Read about the Cypress Hills Massacre and other interesting stories of the history of Fort Walsh.

1875-83
Thirty men under Superintendent James Morrow Walsh established Fort Walsh. In the next few years, the whiskey trade was eliminated, law and order was established, and treaties with First Nations were negotiated.

1876-82
Sitting Bull and 3,000-5,000 Lakota Sioux took refuge at Wood Mountain after defeating the U.S Army led by Colonel George Custer in the battle of the Little Big Horn. War was prevented and good relations established by James Walsh of the NWMP.

1877
Tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy signed Treaty No. 7 at Blackfoot Crossing, surrendering 129,500 sq. km. of southern Alberta.

1877
Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce people tried to seek refuge from the U.S. Army in the Cypress Hills, but were captured near the Bear Paw Mountains en route.

1878-82
Fort Walsh served as headquarters for the NWMP.

 

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Settlement History

Settlement History


Middle 1870s
American ranches began to drive their cattle onto the Canadian Plains and permanent European settlement began.

1875-79
Métis hivernants wintered in the Cypress Hills near Head of the Mountain. (Download a brochure for more information on the Métis)

1879
Constable Graburn (NWMP) was murdered in the Cypress Hills.

1880
Two farms were established in the Cypress Hills to demonstrate farming to natives. One was 48 km northeast of Fort Walsh, near Maple Creek, and the other was at Head of the Mountain.

1883
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) reached the newly established community of Maple Creek. This led to an influx of farmers, ranchers and homesteaders. Fort Walsh was abandoned and the NWMP established detachments at Maple Creek and Medicine Hat. A number of outposts remained active in the Cypress Hills.

1883
L. Sands Lumber Co. was active in the Cypress Hills.

1887
The Mitchell brothers established the first homestead in the Elkwater Lake area.

1907
Happy Jack Hart opened the first coal mine in the area along the North Shore of Elkwater Lake.

1913
Elkwater subdivision was surveyed and construction of roads was completed.

1917
The Royal NWMP detachment at Eagle Butte closed on March 1.

1917
The first store was opened in Elkwater.

1919
Three stock associations began grazing cattle in Alberta's Cypress Hills.

1919
Cottage lot fees were $5.00/year.

1926
The J.A Flath family opened a store in Elkwater. Over the next thirty years the Flath store and dance hall became a landmark of the area.

Early 1940s
Cobbles were mined from the Cypress Hills for the war effort.

1947
The first school in Elkwater burned down (December 5). Prior to this, a cabin was used.

1949
The second Elkwater School was moved from the #34 Air Force Training Statioin in Medicine Hat.

1955
June 15, Elkwater community hall opened

 

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Parks History

Parks History

 

1894
A number of forest reserves were established in Canada as concern over the exploitation of natural resources became prevalent.

1906
Creation of Cypress Hills Forest Reserve comprising 18 sections (18 square miles) under the Federal Forest Reserve Act.

1910
The first telephone line from Medicine Hat reached the Elkwater Lake area.

1911
Forest Reserves and Parks Act expanded Cypress Hills Forest Reserve to 492km2 (190 square miles). Of this, 80 square miles was in Alberta and was known as the Elkwater Block, which coincides with the present Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park- Alberta. The first ranger in the “Elkwater Block” was Mr. Wright.

1911-1931
Cypress Hills Forest Reserve operated under the authority of the Canadian department of the Interior.

1920
The first grazing permits were issued in the Forest Reserve. Prior to this year, the bench area was used only for hay cutting

1924
The first tourist shelter in Elkwater was built by the Forest Service. It took three years to complete and cost $1,005.42.

1930
Transfer of natural resources control from Dominion Government to the provinces. The province established the forest reserve in Centre Block as Cypress Hills Provincial Park. The West Block was maintained as a Wilderness area. The park now encompasses 18,212 hectares of land.

1939
The Forestry Branch established a camp at Nichol Springs as a relief camp.

1947
Establishment of Elkwater Provincial Park.

1951
Establishment of Cypress Hills Provincial Park.

1952
A dam was constructed on Elkwater Lake for Ducks Unlimited.

1953
Elkwater Park Golf course opened.

1954
Park expanded and facilities developed.

Early 1960s
Spruce Coulee Reservoir and Reesor Lake created. Cypress Hills skiers club established a ski lift with a handle tow.

1967
Cypress Hills Visitor Centre built.
Commercial lumbering operations were terminated; but domestic grazing was allowed to continue. Cypress Hills Skier Association moved to its present location.

1968
Mr. Bob Townsend was hired as Cypress Hills Provincial Park’s first naturalist- also the first naturalist within Alberta Provincial Parks.

Late 1960s
Fort Walsh National Historic Park was established.

1976

The West Block becomes a part of the provincial park.

1983
Major upgrading of Elkwater facilities took place. i.e. the marina.

1989
Cypress Hills Interprovincial park agreement signed, which created Canada’s first Interprovincial Park on August 25. New daylodge, quad chair and other improvements at “Hidden Valley” ski hill all opened to the public.

1994-present
A resurgence of field research in the park- projects ranging from biological to archaeological.

1996
Fort Walsh National Historic Site becomes a part of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. (Prior to this year, Fort Walsh had always been a very active partner in the interprovincial park).

2004
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park designated a Dark-Sky Preserve.

2007
New Visitor Centre in Cypress Hills – Alberta opens for year-round visitor services.

2009
Visitor Centre in Cypress Hills – Saskatchewan opens for year-round visitor services.

2011
New Observatory in Cypress Hills – Saskatchewan opens for astronom

 

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Changes in Natural Environment

Changes in Natural Environment

 

Early 1880s
Bison disappear from the Cypress Hills.

1883
L. Sands Lumber Co. was active in the Cypress Hills

1886 and 1889
Major fires burned though most of the Cypress Hills.

1890
The last great plains grizzly was shot in the Cypress Hills.

1890-1925
Much of the large game became extirpated, and populations of smaller mammals and birds were greatly reduced.

1919
Three stock associations (grazing) established in the Cypress Hills.

1921-1922
Eleven permits were issued to hunt wolves in the Forest Reserve. Three wolves were killed a short distance from the west end of the Forest Reserve.

1934
Another major fire burns the vicinity of the Willow Creek.

1938
Elk re-introduced.

1955-1956
Red squirrels introduced. Moose introduced.

1962
Wild turkeys introduced.

1967
Commercial lumbering operations were terminated. Domestic grazing allowed to continue. Police Point slump occurred along the north escarpment of the Cypress Hills plateau.

1976
Elk Hunting season becomes established in the park.

Early 1980s
An infestation of mountain pine beetles affect the park’s lodgepole pine.

1987
Forest Management Program implemented. Small scale cutting occurs in park for a period of 5 years.

 

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