Over the years, individuals and groups have done a fair bit of “hunting and gathering” about the history of Calling Lake. Building on that good work, in 2021 the Calling Lake Community Society formed the Calling Lake History Committee with a goal of gathering whatever we can learn about our history for all to use. As a growing number of folks with connections to this place offer stories, photos and artifacts, we have begun to piece together the puzzle of the peoples who came before us.
This website is one outgrowth of work to date. You can also stay in touch through the Historical Calling Lake Facebook page and explore our past at the Historical Centre. Located in the community’s first firehall, the centre is open for by appointment and for special events. In future, as funds permit, the centre will be open more regularly, especially during the summer.
With help from neighbours and experts further afield, we hope to continue filling this website and the Historical Centre with stories, photographs, videos, songs, research reports and links to resources available here and elsewhere. Ideally, this will become a treasure chest anyone can dip into for school and club projects, community drama, heritage signs, displays, articles and more. Perhaps even a video or a book.
Gathering and celebrating Calling Lake history is our gift to generations to come. A way to learn more about each other in this very diverse community and see how our beloved lake fits into the puzzle of our region and beyond. It’s our hope this process will take on a life of its own as folks see why we can be proud to be people of the boreal forest who call Calling Lake “home,” if only for a portion of our lives.
The following aims guide the work of the Calling Lake Community Society History Committee and the expanding team involved.
Vision: to hunt and gather as many pieces of the Calling Lake history puzzle as possible for future generations to enjoy and build on.
Mission: to work within the Strategic plan of the Calling Lake Community Society while achieving our vision by respecting and building relationship with the entire Calling Lake community, leaving the community with a 10-year sustainable plan for nurturing a resource folks can learn from and enjoy.
Goal #1: Establish the old firehall/information centre as a core hub to the Calling Lake history wheel and build a series of rims around this hub, reaching out as wide and far as necessary to understand our beginnings and learn more about who we are, where we came from and how we got here.
We have secured a three-year lease with the MD for this hub and are now developing the approximately 10,000 sq ft property, of which about 1,000 is interior space.
While hunting and gathering, we envision the area that has influenced who we are today as a wheel whose outer rim reaches out as far north as the Arctic Ocean, northeast to the Hudson Bay, west to the Great Divide, east to Manitoba and south to and even beyond the Canadian/US border. Within that larger ring are smaller rings with spokes directly connected to Calling Lake – those are the ones we focus on in more detail.
Goal #2: Add new elements to our community’s “linear museum” – strategically placed heritage signs and sites celebrating our past.
Thanks to previous work, Calling Lake already has several heritage stops, including a structure near the original Catholic Church and information canopies at the Information Centre, Jeremy Nipshank Park, Ben Auger Park and at the end of the Poplar Street boardwalk celebrating Bob Flowers and his time here. We plan to build additional historical markers celebrating sport, recreation and perhaps culture at appropriate sites, such as the Arena and Recreation Centre and historic building sites. As this work progresses, we will also explore the potential for partnering with the Bigstone Cree Nation to place heritage markers on the Jean Baptiste Gambler 183 Reserve and/or at other key sites such as graveyards.
Goal #3: Establish a user-friendly website and Facebook to share this history and link to many related sites that complement our past and related cultures.
We intend to continue populating this website, and to actively link and partner with other websites, including the municipality and nearby archives, libraries, historical groups, services and industries.
Goal #4: Establish a system to identify, catalogue and protect artifacts as they come under our control and custody.
Properly identifying, cataloguing and safekeeping items in our care is a huge priority for the committee and takes a lot of our combined energy, as we are eager to capture all we can for use into the future. These opportunities pass sooner than one may think as folks move away and/or pass on. Artifacts, pictures and stories are finding us as folks learn about this initiative and offer to share what they have. We are working hard to identify and catalogue items and have a good team in place that is growing as we grow.
Goal #5: Establish lasting and working partnerships with related agencies in the surrounding communities, especially in the sectors of research we prioritize.
This goal was identified as a priority from day one and is one we work on weekly, expanding our access to information and support to grow our knowledge base and. To date we have more than two dozen active relationships and numerous individuals working with us collaboratively, in mentorship roles or as active partners. Experts involved include archivists, historians, archaeologists, watershed knowledge-keepers, librarians, teachers, long-time residents – and certainly forestry and trapping resources.
Goal #6: To work within all the guiding principles and strategic planning of the Calling Lake Community Society
Although our project was well underway as CLCS developed and finalized its short- and long-term plans, we had a pretty good understanding of the direction being set. By drawing on our many combined years of community work both in Calling Lake and beyond, we felt comfortable what we had started would fit. After reviewing the current CLCS plan, we do believe the History Project fits within the Mandates and Goals of CLCS. In particular, we are fulfilling Pillar #1 (Community Development), Goal #2:
Documenting Calling Lake History
Encourage research and publication of the Calling Lake area and its people including developing a small museum and historical document repository and selling historical books
Need to Succeed
Volunteers to gather existing historical information; physical space for storage, display and meetings. Assistance writing grant proposal.
At each step, we will continue to work in tandem with the CLCS for the betterment of our entire community.
To learn more about us, explore:
Recognizing that we are all Treaty people, equally responsible to know our shared history and journey forward in good faith, we acknowledge with respect that Calling Lake stands on land, and alongside water, where Indigenous peoples have gathered, hunted, fished and held ceremonies from time immemorial. Knowing that J.B. Gambler Indian Reserve #183 is part of Bigstone Cree Nation within Treaty 8 Territory, and that we are within Métis Nation of Alberta District 22, we wish to understand the spirit and intent of promises made so that we can take action to create a just and caring future built on truth and reconciliation.