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Home » Lakes of the Atlas » North Saskatchewan Region » Battle River Basin » Pigeon Lake

Pigeon Lake

    2.Drainage Basin Characteristics
    3.Lake Basin Characteristics
    4.Water Quality
    5.Biological Characteristics

1. Introduction

Map Sheets:83A/13, 83B/16, 83G/1, 83H/4
Location:Tp46, 47 R1 W5
Lat/Long:53°01'N 114°02'W

Pigeon Lake is a large, very popular recreational lake located in the counties of Wetaskiwin and Leduc, within easy driving distance from the cities of Edmonton, Leduc and Wetaskiwin. It is located about 60 km southwest of Edmonton and can be reached by taking Highway 2 south of the city, then following Highway 13 west to Ma-Me-O Beach on the south end of the lake. Several secondary roads provide good access to most of the lakeshore (Fig. 1).

The lake was once known as "Woodpecker Lake", a translation from the Cree name Hmi-hmoo, but by 1858, the name Pigeon Lake was in use (Holmgren and Holmgren 1976). The name probably originates from the huge flocks of Passenger Pigeons that once ranged over the area (Falun Hist. Soc. 1974). In 1847, Reverend Robert Rundle established Rundle Mission on the northwest shore; this agricultural settlement, which was Alberta's first Protestant mission, is commemorated by a cairn at Mission Beach (Warburg Dist. Hist. Soc. 1977). A Hudson's Bay Company trading post was built on the west shore in 1868, but operated only until 1875 (Falun Hist. Soc. 1974). In 1896, Pigeon Lake Indian Reserve was established on the southeast shore. Later, the summer village of Ma-Me-O Beach was developed at the south end of the lake on land obtained from the Indian reserve in 1924. Ma-Me-O is a Cree word meaning "white pigeon". Logging, commercial fishing and farming were important livelihoods of residents of the area in the early 1900s. Near the hamlet of Mulhurst, a sawmill operated year-round, and a fish-packing plant operated during winter (Millet Dist. Hist. Soc. 1978).

At present, Pigeon Lake is one of the most intensively used recreational lakes in Alberta. There are over 2,300 private cottage lots in 10 summer villages and 9 unincorporated subdivisions (Fig. 2) (Battle R. Reg. Plan. Commis. 1985). Approximately 10% of the cottages are permanent homes. In 1985, the hamlet of Mulhurst on the northeast shore had a population of 295 people and the hamlet of Westerose on the southeast shore had a population of 87 people (Co. Wetaskiwin 1988). As well, there are about 200 people living on the Pigeon Lake Indian Reserve (Four Bands Admin. 1988). They are members of the Louis Bull, Ermineskin, Samson and Montana bands.

Two provincial parks are located on Pigeon Lake. Ma-Me-O Beach Provincial Park, located within the summer village, was established in 1957 (Alta. Rec. Parks n.d.). It is the smallest provincial park in Alberta (area of 0.016 km2). The park is open from the Victoria Day weekend to 15 September and provides day-use services only. Facilities include a picnic shelter, a playground, toilets and pump water. A sandy beach is nearby. Pigeon Lake Provincial Park was established on the west side of the lake in 1967 (Alta. Rec. Parks n.d.). Alberta Recreation and Parks acquired nearby Zeiner Park (formerly operated by the County of Leduc) in 1981 and incorporated it into the provincial park (Fig. 2). There are 180 campsites in the main campground and 116 sites at Zeiner Campground; facilities include beaches, boat launches, change houses, docks, flush and vault toilets, picnic shelters, a concession, group camping, sewage disposal, tap water, walking trails, a telephone and playgrounds. The park offers camping from early May to mid-October, and is open for day-use activities year-round (Wilson 1988).

Another public recreational facility at Pigeon Lake is the Mission Beach Campground at Mission Beach. It is operated by Alberta Transportation and has nine campsites, picnic tables, one picnic shelter and a water pump (Danchuk 1988). Additional public access points, with boat launches, are available at Mulhurst and at the summer village of Ma-Me-O Beach. Commercial recreational facilities at the lake include two campgrounds located in the Indian reserve at either side of the summer village of Ma-Me-O Beach and golf courses located at Mulhurst and near Westerose. Institutional facilities consist of eight youth and church group camps situated along the lakeshore.

Water sports such as swimming, power boating, sailing, windsurfing, water skiing and sport fishing are popular. In posted areas of the lake, all boats are prohibited or subject to a maximum speed of 12 km/hour (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988).

The water quality of Pigeon Lake is typical of large, shallow lakes in central Alberta. The water is green for much of the summer, but nuisance algal blooms are rare. The lake supports active commercial and domestic fisheries, and sport fishing for yellow perch, walleye and northern pike is popular year-round. A portion of Pigeon Lake Creek downstream from the lake is closed to fishing during designated periods in spring (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989).

Physical Information
Area (km2)96.7
Max. Depth (m)9.1
Mean Depth (m)6.2
Dr. Basin Area (km2)187
Dam, WeirWeir
Drainage BasinBattle River Basin

Recreational Information
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishNorthern Pike, Lake Whitefish, Walleye, Yellow Perch

Water Quality Information
Trophic StatusEutrophic
TP x (µg/L)32
CHLORO x (µg/L)12.8
TDS x (mg/L)164

2.Drainage Basin Characteristics »

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