By Tim Kalinowski
Antelope Lake Regional Park just north of Gull Lake may not be southwest Saskatchewan’s best known park, but for those who know and love it there is no more beautiful oasis on the prairies.
This year Antelope Lake celebrates its 40th anniversary as a park, but citizens from the Antelope, Hazlet and Gull Lake areas have been coming to this refuge in nature since the early 1900s. Fed by one of the fastest flowing natural springs in southwest Saskatchewan this ancient, glacial-remnant, salt lake bed has always had water in it even in dry years, thus creating a naturally lush environment which delights the eyes and sooths the soul.
Since those early settler years successive generations have sought to build upon and build up the park. So what was once merely a water hole for swimming popularized and improved upon by an early area dentist named Dr. Oliver Hart has now become an established park with a dance hall, golf course, baseball diamond, fully-powered camp sites and in-park concession stand.
After years of declining water levels, record-high precipitation and winter run-offs over the last five years have now refilled the lake to its highest levels in nearly three generations. And so, besides its always dedicated seasonal campers, the park now boasts several pairs of breeding pelicans which are a delight to see clustering close to shore with their big yellow beaks and white feathers. The pelicans have returned with the fish as over 500,000 new Walleye fry have been re-seeded back into the lake over the past few years.
As Antelope Lake Regional Park turns 40 park board members hope to see increasing visitor levels in the years ahead; so that others outside of the local area may come to appreciate the park and this ancient lake bed just as much as its long-time neighbouring communities always have. It is the board’s hope, says board member Sharisse Dyer, to have a wonderful turnout for its 40th anniversary celebration weekend to mark this special time in the life of the park.
“Our goal is to keep improving the park,” says Dyer. “So reaching out to people and having this big celebration to have people come out and see what the park is all about…We’re hoping it’s going to be a great turnout and people will have a great time. We’ll have lots of things for them to do.”
Antelope Lake’s 40th anniversary celebration is scheduled to take place on August Long Weekend (August 1-3). Events will include a DJ at the park’s dance hall on Friday evening, a ball tournament all day Saturday and a live band on Saturday evening. Sunday will feature a community pancake breakfast and a special commemorative event to mark this important anniversary in the history of the park. There will also be various activities for the kids all weekend long including swimming fun in the park’s spring-fed pond and beach area, and a bouncy castle activity area for active play.
Dyer says it is also an opportunity for generations of locals who have enjoyed the park to come home and experience it all again.
“It’s great the park has been open for 40 years and lots of people are enjoying it. When we first launched our Facebook page for this anniversary celebration there were people putting messages on there of things and stories they remembered from when they used to come here as kids. People were talking about seeing the pictures of the park we posted, and how they brought back all these memories for them.”
More information on Antelope Lake Regional Park’s 40th anniversary event will be posted on Antelope Lake Regional Park’s Facebook page as updates become available.
Via The Advance