Waskesiu Foundation - Enhancing the Waskesiu Experience
We are pleased to have two donors facilitate the purchase of "The Silent Partner" - a tennis ball serving machine, a cover for the machine, and a tennis ball collector / hopper. This new equipment is now available at the Waskesiu Recreation Association's tennis courts.
Example of floating dock.
The Waskesiu Foundation and Parks Canada Agency partnered to build a multi-season camp kitchen completed in October 2019 at the new day use area on the site of the former Crean Lake warden cabin. It is located at the mouth of the channel from the Heart Lakes into Crean Lake. It is accessible by boat in the summer and by the Crean cross-country ski trail in the winter. The area will also have signage commemorating the warden service in the park. Many thanks to the Surkan family who sponsored the camp kitchen in memory of their parents Metro and Helen Surkan.
In partnership with Parks Canada, a floating dock was installed in 2021 at the Crean Lake Day Use Area. The Area is accessible in summer only by boating, cycling or walking. This dock will further improve the area, where Parks Canada added picnic tables, fire grills and a pit toilet. The Foundation and Parks Canada partnered to build a multi-season camp kitchen in 2019 and it has proven popular in the winter for cross country skiers. The Crean Lake Day Use Area is the site of a decommissioned warden station in the channel leading to Crean Lake.
The plucking procedure used a mechanical rock hook on a small barge to pick up and move the rocks.
The Waskesiu Foundation and Parks Canada Agency partnered to refurbish the camp kitchen across from Eagle street in the Waskesiu townsite a number of years ago. Camp kitchens are a wonderful place for families and loved ones to gather to share a special picnic, enjoy a fire and spend some quality time together.
In February, the family of Judy Persson Thomas contacted us wanting to have something in the park to honour her memory. Judy's father was a civil engineer for Parks Canada. Her family was living in Prince Albert National Park when Judy was born. It was the most special place in the world for her.
Judy's family wanted to have her love of Waskesiu shared with others for years to come. Heartfelt thanks to the Thomas family for sponsoring this camp kitchen in honour of Judy's memory.
Gordie Howe Memorial Fitness Park with new flooring completed in 2019
Tennis ball serving machine and ball collector completed May 2019
Collaboration helps increase visitor safety
Efforts to enhance visitor safety in the Crean Channel have been successful and access to the Crean Lake day use area has been improved.
The Waskesiu Foundation, community volunteers and Parks Canada partnered to complete the Crean Channel project. Special thanks to Rick Lokken and Kerry Paul who assisted by leading the fundraising effort, George Ritchie of Ritchie Construction for supplying staff and equipment at cost, Parks Canada for facilitating the project and to the community for donating over $12,000 in funding.
The collaboration is just another example of enhancing the Waskesiu experience together.
Recreational activity on Crean Lake is accessed by launching your watercraft at the Hanging Heart Lakes Marina and navigating through the three Hanging Heart Lakes. At the end of the third Heart lake it narrows to a channel, known as the Crean Channel, which gently winds its way into Crean Lake.
The channel was dammed during the low water years of the late 1930s. In the late 1950s the dam was removed however remnants of the dam combined with other naturally occurring rocks resulted in navigational hazards and a safety issue for boaters and their vessels. The shallow waters of the Crean Channel and the navigation hazards made passage through the channel difficult and often resulted in collisions and grounding even at idle speeds.
Volunteers and partner organizations expressed concern about the safety hazard dating back to the early 2000’s. Addressing this public safety hazard in the channel was identified as a priority action in the Prince Albert National Park 2007 Management Plan, “Challenges and Opportunities… When water levels are low, boulders are a hazard for boaters traveling from Heart Lakes to Crean Lake… Priorities for Action… 6. Work with interested stakeholders to reduce navigational hazards in the Heart Lakes channel”.
Residents requested this action be advanced at a community meeting in summer 2019. Volunteers, the Waskesiu Foundation and Parks Canada began project planning in fall 2019.
The project was approved by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada following an environmental impact assessment process that determined there would be no negative impact to the environment. The Waskesiu Community Council endorsed the project. The Waskesiu Foundation hired a local contractor and community fundraising by Foundation volunteers was completed in spring 2020.
What was done
The Crean Channel was closed to local boat traffic July 7 to 9, 2020. Rocks were “plucked” and moved to the side of the channel with minimal disturbance to aquatic vegetation, natural wood debris, sand or other materials from the banks, shoreline or bed of the channel. George describes the "plucking" procedure as using a mechanical rock hook on a small barge to pick up and move the rocks. Divots and holes resulting from the removal of rocks were filled level to the channel bottom to prevent any potential erosion and maintain channel depth. Parks Canada monitored the procedure from watercraft in the channel and assisted in identifying rocks to be plucked.
Caution - Notice to boaters
Navigational hazards are still present in the Crean Channel and all channels in the Hanging Heart Lakes system. These channels are narrow, shallow and may contain floating debris. Boaters should use caution when traveling through channels, trim motors up, reduce speed and minimize wake to avoid collision, grounding and damage to shoreline habitat.
While the removal of large rocks has reduced the number of hazards in the channel, there are still hazards that require boaters to be slow, cautious and observant. The water is still shallow and is a no wake zone with a posted speed limit of 8 km/hr. Channel water levels will fluctuate from year to year and frost heaving over winter months and the movement of ice, can introduce new rock hazards in future years.
Enhancing the Waskesiu experience
The reduction of hazards in the channel improves visitor safety and access to the new Crean Lake day use area adjacent to the channel. This new facility was developed jointly by the Waskesiu Foundation and Parks Canada and includes a multi-season camp kitchen, picnic tables, fire pits and a pit toilet.
A plaque was installed in June, 2020 in the camp kitchen across from Eagle street: "A heart and soul as beautiful as a Waskesiu sunset. In loving memory of Judy Persson Thomas".
In a dollar matching program with Parks Canada, we funded equipment in 2019. The Ready Rack Storage Locker system has been implemented in fire departments across North America and is quickly becoming one of the more popular storage systems for turnout gear. It has a steel design that allows complete air movement/exposure on all four sides.
The hydrovent nozzle is designed and intended to be placed into the fire room from the outside and left unattended. This nozzle pulls heat and smoke away from victims and firefighters while dropping room temperatures at the same time.
A registered charity supporting recreational, social, cultural and environmental activities that enhance the Waskesiu experience
Ready Rack Storage Lockers completed August 2019
Multi-season camp kitchen at Crean Lake, completed October 2019
The Waskesiu Foundation partnered with the Waskesiu Recreation Association to construct an outdoor fitness park on the WRA grounds which was dedicated on August 5, 2018 by Murray Howe, son of hockey star Gordie Howe. He unveiled a plaque naming the facility as the Gordie Howe Memorial Fitness Park. Gordie Howe's favourite place on earth was Waskesiu. He spent years here working at the Waskesiu Golf Course and fishing with his on-ice rival Johnnie Bower. The fitness park is a tribute to Mr. Hockey, who in life symbolized the best in physical fitness, human kindness, humility and compassion.
The fitness park is so popular that the grass below it did not withstand the foot traffic. A new floor of athletic tiles was installed in spring 2019. It will give users more solid footing and protect their joints from impacts. There will no longer be excuses to avoid box jumps!