Greenwater Lake History
Greenwater Lake Park was home to many First Nations people for almost ten thousand years. When the glaciers retreated from the area, they left behind prairie and then forest, where thousands of First Nations people lived, taking from the land what they needed to survive.
The first European to enter the region, in 1690, was Henry Kelsey, who passed through the general area of the park before travelling out on the plains. Kelsey, the first explorer sent by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), travelled inland from the coast of the Hudson’s Bay. He came to encourage the First Nations to come to the HBC’s post at Fort York to trade furs for goods brought from Europe. Kelsey’s trip was the beginning of the fur trade in the area, which in the years to come, would lead to posts being established throughout the Canadian northwest, trading for the furs that the First Nations collected.
Settlers came into the region starting in the 1890s to farm the prairies near the park. Many came into the forest to collect lumber for construction and fuel for heating, as well as for ample hunting and fishing opportunities that the forest provided. In 1912, Greenwater and the surrounding forest were surveyed and became part of the Porcupine Forest Reserve, managed by the federal government. Logging was an important industry in the area, which allowed farmers to earn money during the winter, working for some of the large lumber companies that operated in the forests. At this time, logging occurred in the northern area of the park and employed over 700 men.
In 1930, the Dominion government turned over the responsibility for natural resources to the Province. The initial incorporation of the park was on February 17, 1932, consisting of 90 square kilometres. Greenwater was the fifth park to be designated in Saskatchewan. Greenwater was one of the least developed parks in the system. In 1939, the park had only one resort lodge. Some people had small cabins along the lake, the first having been built in 1922 and the first subdivision established in 1927. After the establishment of the park, recreational improvements and cabins continued to expand and the lake became a favourite recreation centre for the people of northeast Saskatchewan for its good fishing and ample boating opportunities. In the years after its founding, the park’s area expanded three times. In 1964, it expanded the park by one section, and the next year, it expanded by another 90 square kilometres. In 1986, the last addition, another 21 square kilometres to the park, bought the Greenwater Lake to a total of 207 square kilometers.