Duck Mountain History
Fist Nations people lived in the Duck Mountain region for the last 10,000 years. The hills of Duck Mountain provided a good place to hunt, fish and trap furs. When Europeans first arrived in the region, Duck Mountain became part of the fur trade network. The Hudson’s Bay Company operated Fort Pelly, the major trading post in the region, 40 kilometres northwest of the park. The fort’s supply trail passed through the park, around Madge Lake. This trail linked Fort Pelly with Fort Ellice to the south and represented the major supply line for Pelly and the fur trade in the region. In its hay day, large Ox trains would pass through the park at least once a year, and this traffic was augmented by occasional Red River Carts and pack horses coming to and going from the fort, bringing supplies and carrying out furs and pemmican.
In 1865, surveyor John Palliser came to the area to investigate the Canadian plains’ suitability for commercial agriculture. During the trip, he came to Duck Mountain and gave the region its name in honour of the large number of waterfowl he found there. In the 1890s, the first settlers began homesteading near Duck Mountain. The presence of settlers meant new pressures of the forest from people looking for building materials and firewood, as well as ways to supplement their incomes through logging. In response, the Federal Government established Duck Mountain Dominion Forest Reserve in 1906. The reserve encompassed an area that included the current park as well as significant portions of Duck Mountain in Manitoba. A sawmill was opened at Pelly Point along Madge Lake in 1905 and operated until 1914, logging portions of the current park during that decade.
By 1908, the first cabins were built at Madge Lake. By 1915, a road was constructed between the lake and Kamsack and resort lots were laid out. That year, the lake was stocked with walleye. The cottage development at Madge Lake continued through the 1920s. By the 1930s, the resort featured excursion boats and a dance hall and store. In 1930, the Federal Government transferred the Forest Reserve land to the Province of Saskatchewan. Duck Mountain Provincial Park was established in 1931.
During the depression, the government employed workers in the park to construct recreational improvements and build a road through the east end of the park to meet with the Manitoba highways system. The park expanded greatly during the thirties, and became a prime destination for recreational enthusiast from across east-central Saskatchewan. In the years since, the accommodations in the park have increased, with more cabins and lodges, as well as more camping sites.