Calling Lake Community

Located on Treaty 8 Territory and within Métis Nation of Alberta District 22, Calling Lake is home to a blend of Indigenous, settler and cabin households. About 500 people live in the community full time; another 250 live on the Jean Baptiste Gambler Reserve, part of the Bigstone Cree Nation; nearly 2,000 are cottagers who come here part time. Our community lies within the Municipal District of Opportunity No. 17, and within the Bigstone Cree Nation. Both are based in Wabasca with sub-offices in our community – Bigstone Cree Nation on the Gambler Reserve and the municipal district in the Calling Lake Community Centre.

The Calling Lake Community Society, a grassroots group of volunteers, seeks to serve everyone here through various projects, including community events, a Facebook page, the Spirit newsletter and the Historical Calling Lake initiative. Society volunteers also track the health of the lake that gives our community its name; to learn more about their work, see Water Matters.

Among many other community initiatives are the Kito Sakahekan Seniors Society, the Calling Lake Sailing Club, the Spruce Country Stitchers, Calling Lake Search and Rescue and the volunteer Calling Lake Fire Department. The community is also served by the Calling Lake School, the Calling Lake Library and Calling Lake Community Health Services.  


Municipal District of Opportunity No. 1​7

MD of Opportunity within the province of Alberta
The Municipal District of Opportunity No. 17 encompasses Calling Lake and three other hamlets: Red Earth Creek, Sandy Lake (or Pelican Mountain) and Wabasca. The latter, also known as Wabasca-Desmarais, is the location of the municipal office. Smaller localities in the MD include Calling Lake, Chipewyan Lake, Peerless Lake and Trout Lake. MD No. 17 was established Aug. 1, 1995 from former Improvement District No. 17 East (North). Its economy includes forestry, oil and gas production and diamond exploration. There is also a growing tourism segment that includes Calling Lake Provincial Park, located at the south end of the lake.

Jean Baptiste Gambler Indian Reserve #183

Calling Lake is home to Jean Baptiste Gambler Reserve 183. The one-square-mile reserve, lying just north of the Calling Lake hamlet, is named after Jean Baptiste Gambler, who frequented the area as early as 1885 and allied with Treaty 8. In 1915, he petitioned for a plot of land as a reserve for his family; his request was approved, although the size of the reserve was cut in half.

In 1966, a decade after Jean Baptiste Gambler’s death, the reserve was set aside “for the use and benefit of the Bigstone Band.” The Bigstone Nation has a total of five reserves as well as the communities of Wabasca (band headquarters) and Chipewyan Lake. The nation numbered about 5,000 members as of the 2016 census, on and off reserve. Its members are largely Woodland Cree.

The Bigstone Cree were among signatories to the Treaty 8 agreement in 1899. In 2010, they signed a settlement agreement with the Governments of Canada and Alberta that provides both cash and land in recognition of unkept treaty promises.

Otipemisiwak Métis Government District 22​

Calling Lake is located at the far south end of the Wabasca-Desmarais Métis District, District 22 of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government (successor to the Métis Nation of Alberta). Districts were formed throughout Alberta in 2023 following overwhelming ratification of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution, which outlines Métis Nation of Alberta values. (Otipemisiwak means “the people who own ourselves.”)

The constitution establishes five territories, each divided into districts to allow for more effective and localized representation. District 22 is part of the Lesser Slave Territory. Nancy Margaret Cardinal was chosen by acclamation as the first Métis Citizens’ Representative for District 22. She can be reached at, 780-455-2200 ext. 254. District 22 Captain is Regan Auger,, 780-455-2200 ext. 253. Andrea Sandmaier, who was elected president of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government, termed the swearing in of government members on Oct. 17, 2023 “a monumental milestone in our continued journey to Métis self-government.”

Clubs & Societies

Calling Lake Community Society ​

The Calling Lake Community Society is a registered not-for-profit composed of volunteers who seek to support the community through mutually beneficial projects. Their desire to build and enhance the community is reflected in the society’s mission:
“To provide a forum for community development by improving relationships, supporting community projects and engaging all residents – from youth to seniors and Elders, full- or part-time residents and guests to Calling Lake. To be a voice for our community at large and a conduit to other interested parties that can bring needed support to Calling Lake.”

The Calling Lake Community Society (CLCS) evolved from the Calling Lake Cottage Association, which registered with Alberta Corporate Registries in 1997, For more than 20 years the organization has sponsored such community initiatives as the food bank, women’s wellness events, pancake breakfasts, craft markets, fundraising auctions, Santas Anonymous, blankets to local residential school survivors, mental health projects, Christmas lights contests and Orange Shirt Day. Support for the local school has included archery, highway cleanup, and truth and reconciliation initiatives.

Since its mandate expanded in 2020, the society has reached out to new partners with a vision of a Calling Lake that is “happy, healthy and thriving economically.” Its members work alongside all individuals and groups that call Calling Lake their home, their community, as together we build strong mutually beneficial relationships, both locally and beyond.

Strategic Plan 2021-2024

Provides an overview of the society’s priorities.


Spirit, the society newsletter includes updates from active community groups. As new issues are published, they are posted on this website.

Calling Lake Community Society Facebook

Offers the latest alerts about upcoming events.

Faith groups

Calling Lake has been home to a variety of faith traditions through the generations. Some have come and gone, including a Mennonite Church that thrived in the mid-1900s when a voluntary service unit was based here, while others evolve and continue. Elders lead First Nations ceremonies, such as the pipe ceremony, the sweat lodge and the Sun Dance. Catholic and Protestant congregations have also taken root in the community.

The Catholic Church of St. Léon le Grand grew out of Oblate mission outreach dating back to the early 1900s. The congregation gained a log chapel in 1948 and a larger building in 1963. Mass is held in Calling Lake the third Sunday of the month at 4 p.m., with the Sacrament of Reconciliation available a half hour before mass or by appointment and communion to the sick brought to homes by request. The congregation is served by Pastor Rev. Stanislaus Okonkwo from Wabasca, Alberta,, 780-296-3908. Check online for current happenings.

The Calling Lake Community Church grew out of Sunday School and Vacation Bible school outreach begun in 1998 by Athabasca Reformed Church. Nathan Gullion joined the team in 2019, first as a student seminarian and now as full-time pastor. The congregation worships in the former Calling Lake Community Health Services building, which also serves as a gathering place and distribution hub for food and other essentials. Sunday services are held at 1:30 p.m., and Bible study Wednesday at 7 p.m. For updates on activities and events, see the Calling Lake Community Church Facebook group. Rev. Gullion can be reached at, 780.499.6824.

Pentecostal believers meet in the community hall, gather in homes, worship in other communities and hold tent meetings. Occasional weekend gatherings are advertised to the community, with everyone welcome. In the past, some worshiped in a church building on the Jean Baptiste Gambler Reserve.

For more about Calling Lake’s faith history, see Expressions of Faith.

Kito Sakahekan Seniors Society

The Kito Sakahekan Society has been active since 1988 and continues to welcome all Seniors (55+) within the community. Most activities are held at the Calling Lake Seniors Centre.

All seniors are welcome to Tuesday and Friday coffee gatherings, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The group is always looking for members to open and close. Sincere thanks to all those who contribute weekly with great baking and treats.

Kito Sakahekan celebrates many occasions throughout the year, always a fun time. Some examples:

  • Seniors Week – Summer BBQ
  • Halloween Costume & Pumpkin Carving and Luncheon
  • Shrove Tuesday Pancake Breakfast
  • Christmas Craft Day and Luncheon
  • Christmas Dinner
  • Bingo Afternoons – four times a year
  • Spring Luncheon

The seniors society is always open to new ideas and welcomes any other suggestions for gatherings that are brought forward.

For the latest happenings, see the Calling Lake Seniors Facebook group.

Calling Lake Sailing and Recreational Club

Ernie Provencher in Jim Ennis’s “Enterprise,” thought to be the first sailboat on Calling Lake and still operational in 2024.

Formed in 1979, the Calling Lake Sailing Club was incorporated as a not for profit under the Societies Act in 1981. Led by volunteers dedicated to sailing for pleasure or training, the club has hosted many community activities on and off the water over the decades. Its first lease, signed with Alberta Energy and Natural Resources in April 2, 1986, spanned 21 years. Its clubhouse, located at the north end of Poplar Street at South Beach, was completed in 1991 and opened by Mike Cardinal.

To stay informed about upcoming activities, join the Calling Lake Sailing and Recreational Club Facebook group.

Spruce Country Stitchers

Since 2004, quilters and sewers in Calling Lake have been meeting weekly to share their talents. In that time, the group has grown from three to 15 or more. Besides having fun together as they make and show their projects, they have donated many quilts that warm bodies and hearts in the community and beyond. Some items are sold through raffles or as door prizes; many are given away to individuals, the women’s shelter and others. Donations, including polyester stuffing from Buttons Up, help make these gifts possible.

Anyone interested is invited to come sew with the Spruce Country Stitchers. “We have machines, fabrics and anything you might need to do a project,” says Gerry Stockburger. “Join us for fun, ideas and fellowship.”

To stay informed about upcoming activities, join the Spruce Country Stitchers Facebook group.

Sports and Recreation

Calling Lake has an impressive array of recreation facilities for a community its size, thanks to collaborative efforts over many decades.

At the heart of the community, just off Calling Lake Drive, the Jaybird Memorial Arena offers one sheet of ice for hockey and other ice sports as well as a variety of drop-in opportunities. Across from the arena, a Recreation Centre has space for indoor volleyball, basketball and other multisport uses, including a drop-in workout facility open to the public. Outdoor amenities include a skate park, tennis courts, basketball hoops, pickleball courts and a great play area for youth. Recent additions include an outdoor skating track and a summer splash park.

Calling Lake Recreation Centre. Photo: Devin Dequaine
Jaybird Memorial Arena. Photo: Devin Dequaine

Further south along Calling Lake Drive are baseball diamonds with an adjacent play area, fenced for safety and open for anyone to use. Across the street is a grassy lakeside day use area locally known as the Cultural Grounds. This highly respected area with its beautiful lake views is used for traditional ceremonies and occasions of note. It’s been said the area was once inhabited by Stone Boat of Little people who lived in the cliffs by the water.

Two lakeside parks honour former residents, each with a memorial sign. Toward the north end of Calling Lake Drive, Ben Auger Memorial Park offers a boat launch, dock and picnic tables. Further south, just off Highway 813 as you cross the Calling River, is Jeremy Nipshank Memorial Park,  a lovely place to swim and picnic, with a firepit and playground. A trail from the park leads to a bridge at the mouth of the Calling River – a great place for casting, and bird watching.

The Calling River, which flows southeast from the lake to the Athabasca River, is rated Class 1 (easy paddling) from the lake to the Al-Pac bridge crossing (Rg Rd 213a), where boats can pull out or drop in, and Level 2 (novice) to the end of the forestry road, where the Calling River flows into the Athabasca River. This remote spot, the most northerly vehicle access to the Athabasca River before Fort McMurray, attracts hunters, anglers, campers and day visitors of all ages. Historic spots of note include an old telegraph office and a cemetery. Nearby Looking Glass Viewpoint offers a spectacular overview of the area. 

South Beach, a large sandy area along the lake accessible by Poplar Street or Pine Drive, is ideal for picnics, swimming and beach fun. The beach extends all the way to the Provincial Park boat launch, making for a great stroll along the water. Calling Lake Provincial Park itself is a great spot for day trips or overnight camping.

The Calling Lake Provincial Park on the southern shore of Calling Lake attracts people for bird watching, canoeing, swimming, fishing and camping. To reserve campsites (mid-May through October), click here.  

Tanasiuk Park on Rock Island Lake, approximately 35 km north of Calling Lake along Hwy 813, offers overnight camping and a boat launch. Many come to this wilderness park to fish or simply get away from the city life.

Sports and recreation in and around Calling Lake are generally coordinated through MD Opportunity’s Recreation and Culture branch. For more about recreation and culture in Calling Lake and surrounding communities, visit the MD Opportunity Recreation and Culture pages.

Essential Services

Calling Lake Public School

Calling Lake School Logo
Calling Lake School, opened in 1989. Photo: school staff

Students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 attend Calling Lake School, which offers an engaging learning environment with an emphasis on literacy, numeracy, and Indigenous language and culture. Operating since 1922, the school has been part of the Northland School Division since 1962. The current school building, a landmark in the heart of the community, opened in 1989. Twenty-eight teachers, educational and administrative assistants, counsellors, caretakers, cooks and bus drivers serve more than 100 children and youth from the Calling Lake community and the nearby Bigstone Cree Nation reserve.

Contacts: Phone 780-331-3774; Principal Stephen Marsh,; Northland School Division Ward 8 Trustee Wally Rude,

Calling Lake Fire Department

Early members of the Calling Lake Fire Department in front of the original firehall. From left: Randy Auger, Alphonse Auger, Clarence Cardinal, Darrel Cardinal, Brian Nipshank, Fire Chief Gerald Courtorielle, Randy “Jaybird Jacobs

The Calling Lake Fire Department is one of four volunteer departments in the M.D. of Opportunity #17. The Fire Department plays a big role in the community and welcomes volunteers willing to commit to weekly training in medical response and firefighting. The community’s original firehall now serves as the Historical Information Centre. Our first Fire Chief, Gerald Courtorielle, is among the crew featured in the original hall photo.

To volunteer or seek more information E-mail

Calling Lake Search and Rescue

Local search and rescue initiatives grew out of the needs seen by volunteer firefighters. Now a registered charity, Calling Lake Search and Rescue assists the RCMP in search and rescue missions. Its members also arrange and participate in training, first aid classes and tracker courses; maintain equipment; and help raise public awareness about safety concerns.

Contact info:

Calling Lake Library

Like many community assets, Calling Lake Public Library owes its birth to the efforts of committed volunteers. The story begins in Wabasca, where Ian Hopfe, Susan Rathbone, Naomi Fecteau (Thick), Wendy Zabot and Sandra McArthur decided the community needed a library – and then worked together to make it happen. They formed the first library board and, while running the Wabasca library, turned their attention to Calling Lake, where advisory committee members Av Mann, Donna Bladon and Lorraine Flowers were eager to open their own library.

Armed with computers provided by the MD plus a grant of $20,000, those combined forces put out the request for donated books and received boxes full. The MD allocated a small room on the south side of the Community Complex for the library, and volunteers from the advisory committee and library board cleaned and painted the premises, set up shelving, sorted books, welcomed the public and held a Grand Opening in August 2006.

Twice since then, the library has been given larger spaces in the complex, with volunteers and library staff moving all the furniture and books. The library moved to its current location in the Community Complex on March 12, 2013. More renovations were underway in early 2024 as the library expanded into the adjacent board room.

Calling Lake’s library offers four computers for public use. These have proven popular with patrons wishing to complete online courses, create resumes and search the internet. In addition to hosting a popular adult book club, the library participates in programs designed by the Library Board, which now oversees the Wabasca and Calling Lake libraries as well as a third library in Red Earth Creek. Those programs include an Oral History Project, Celebrating Cultural Diversity In Literature, The Summer Reading Program and numerous visits from authors such as Phyllis Webstad (the inspiration behind Orange Shirt Day) and Cheryl McConnell of Calling Lake. Part of the larger Peace Library System, the library received funding from the system for an Indigenous Outreach Program that allowed Calling Lake to purchase Indigenous signage, artifacts, books and artwork.

The library has enjoyed good work from staffers Sabrina Cardinal, Candace Englund, Diane Collyer and Chuck Watson. After job sharing with Chuck for about a dozen years, Diane retired in June 2022 and Chuck took over sole management of the library.

The role of the Library Board

A popular misconception is that municipal districts are heavily involved in setting up and running municipal public libraries. In fact, the Alberta Libraries Act requires MDs to take a “hands off” stance. Each library board is responsible for advocacy, governance, program planning, staffing and daily operation of the libraries in its municipality. The board creates its own vision statement, sets policy and reports statistics each year to the Public Library Services Branch, a department of Alberta Municipal Affairs.

Read more

You can visit the Calling Lake Public Library at 2824 Central Drive weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To find out more, phone 780-331-3077, or check out the links below.

Calling Lake Community Health Services

You’ll find Calling Lake Community Health Services beside Calling Lake School at 3401 48 Avenue. The unit is typically open one day a week, providing such services as immunization, health education and counselling/support for parents, health assessment and screening to identify health concerns and referral to appropriate health care providers such as physicians and community resources. and public health nursing.

For more information, call 780-331-3760 or Athabasca Community Health Services at 780-675-2231.

A project of the Calling Lake Community Society

Land Acknowledgement

Recognizing that we are all 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.

Our Funders