It is Canada’s 150th Anniversary this year and to celebrate entries into all Canadian National Parks are free. We get our pass to Elk Lake National Park and go for our first explore.
Thanks to the cold snap the trees are heading into their autumn colours and there is a real end of summer smell in the air which stirs both our hearts with childhood memories. We have large flocks of Canada geese honking overhead as we take a few of the trails in the park . There are also large flocks of sand hill cranes and we are told there are snow geese to be found.
One of the trails is famous for beaver dams and sure enough we see lots of fresh beaver activity. Including a well worn path between the upper lake above the dam and the lower lake where home is.
This area was teaming with beavers in the mid to late 19th century when white folk arrived from the Hudson Bay Company and established a hugely successful fur trading business. This resulted in an almost complete demise of the beaver population by the early 1900’s. One of those situations where the balance between nature and greed unhinged the place despite centuries worth of the local native Cree population having struck a good balance between their needs and that of nature.
We are also lucky to see fully grown , healthy bison at the end of the day after our hikes as they come out of the woods for a dusk graze. There are two varieties of bison here, the wood bison which is the largest mammal in North America around 895kg for a boy and the plains bison who is somewhat smaller. Elk Lake has become the source of healthy bison stock that they send around the world to re-establish lost species in other countries. There is a growing problem though in the park as there are no natural predators here. Unfortunately a small wolf pack that was resident here, managed to leave the park boundaries and were decimated by competing interests of the surrounding farming and cattle grazing community and the feeding needs of the wolves. A lot of thought is being given to how best to balance the current situation and bringing back the wolves is one possibility.
We head home to catch up with the troops and it’s a scrambled egg dinner for the kids tonight.
We are a long way away from a French Patisserie but thanks to some earlier research I track down the Duchcess Bake shop, a lovely bake house and cafe which I’m sure we will visit again but for now a little sampler will do.