waterton lakes national park vacation guide logo

canada, alberta, waterton lakes national park colour

Home Search Site Map FAQ Links
waterton lakes national park, alberta, canada valley photo
MAPS ACTIVITIES LODGING DINING SERVICES
TRAVEL INFO REFERENCE GALLERY EMPLOYMENT

Waterton-Glacier Chronology

Post-European History

    1725
  • Horses are reintroduced into Alberta. It's believed that the Kutenai were the first to acquire them, from the Shoshoni.
  • Smallpox is reported for the first time in the province, among the Kutenai.
  • The Blackfoot acquire rifles from the east, from the Cree and Assiniboine.
  • 1781

  • A terrible plague (smallpox and other European diseases) strikes the Blackfoot killing nearly half their population.
  • 1800

  • LeBlanc and LeGasse, of David Thompson's party, reportedly visit the area with Kootenai Indian guides.
  • 1805

  • Merriwether Lewis approaches the Montana Rockies on the westward leg of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803 - 1806). Exploring the Marias River, naming it after his cousin Maria Wood, he comes very close to the east side of today's Glacier National Park. The Lewis Range and Clark Range are named for this expedition.
  • 1818

  • Britain and USA agree on the 49th parallel as boundary from Lake of the Woods to the Rockies (see Waterton Lakes National Park-Glacier National Park International Peace Park and its Border).
  • 1846

  • Dispute over Oregon Territory is resolved with the signing of the Oregon Treaty (see Waterton Lakes National Park-Glacier National Park International Peace Park and its Border).
  • 1850's

  • The Kutenai and other mountain tribes appeal for help, over disputes with the Blackfoot, from the Washington Territory governor. In follow-up negotiations, the Kutenai finally agree to give up all claim to mountain passes and prairie.
  • 1857

  • The Palliser Expedition (1857-1860). Captain John Palliser, Lieutenant Thomas Blakiston, Dr. James Hector, Eugene Bourgeau and John W. Sullivan set out to explore western British North America to see if the area can be settled and to discover possible railway routes through the mountains. Many features in the west bear these men's' names.
  • 1858

  • Sept. 6th, Lt. Thomas Blakiston travels through South Kootenay Pass and names the main lakes after Sir Charles Waterton, an English naturalist.
  • 1862

  • British and American survey parties arrive at Upper Waterton Lake; completing the western survey of the international boundary (49th parallel) from the Pacific Coast east to Waterton (1857-1862).
  • 1865

  • John George "Kootenai" Brown first visits Waterton with some companions and vows to return one day, declaring, "this is what I have seen in my dreams, this is the country for me."
  • 1869

  • A major smallpox epidemic again devastates the Plains tribes.
  • 1870

  • First cattle are introduced to southwestern Alberta.
  • Fort Whoop-Up, the first and most notorious whiskey post is established among the Blackfoot. Buffalo hides are traded for a near-lethal concoction called whiskey (watery alcohol mixed with chewing tobacco, molasses, ink, painkillers and anything else on hand). This illegal trade prompted the formation of the North West Mounted Police in 1873.
  • 1872

  • The first national park in the world is established -Yellowstone National Park, U.S.A.
  • 1874

  • A joint British and American party completes the second survey of the international boundary along the 49th parallel from Lake of the Woods west to Waterton (1872 - 1874).
  • 1877

  • The Blackfoot sign Treaty Number 7 and are settled on reservations in Alberta and Montana.
  • 1878

  • Kootenai Brown returns to Waterton with his family and settles in the area.
  • 1885

  • Canada's first national park is established at siding 29 on the Canadian Pacific Railway - Banff National Park (third in the world).
  • 1890

  • Bison are gone from southern Alberta.
  • 1893

  • F.W. Godsal, a Pincher Creek rancher, pushes for the Waterton area to be declared a park.
  • 1894

  • The Northwest Irrigation Act is passed, including plans for the Waterton lakes chain to be part of an irrigation scheme.
  • 1895

  • By Order in Council, on May 30, an 87 sq. km/54 sq. mile area around the Waterton Lakes is named "Kootenay Lakes Forest Park", the fourth National Park in Canada.
  • 1900

  • H. Hansen establishes the Waterton logging mill at the mouth of Maskinonge Marsh.
  • 1901

  • Kootenai Brown is appointed fishery officer for the area.
  • Rocky Mountain Development Co. Ltd. (Calgary-based firm founded by John Lineham, A.P. Patrick and G.K. Leeson) starts drilling for oil up Cameron Valley at the Discovery well site.
  • 1902

  • First oil strike occurs, producing a flow of 300 barrels/day of high grade oil at "Original Discovery No.1" well site in Cameron Valley.
  • Another well, owned by Western Coal and Oil Company, on Seepage Creek blows out and runs wild for two days; pouring oil into Cameron Creek. Numerous fish and ducks die in Waterton Lakes and river system. Weeks later the oil film is still seen in Lethbridge, 97km./60 miles down stream.
  • 1904

  • Western Coal and Oil Company from Vancouver drills for oil near Cameron Falls, striking a flow of one barrel/day. They were responsible for the first settlement in the present Waterton townsite, constructing a cookhouse, bunkhouse, blacksmith shop, office, stable and engine room.
  • 1908

  • The present townsite area is leased to Western Coal and Oil Co. Ltd.
  • Nels Eklund (Bertha Eklund/Marshall's dad) discovers evidence of copper in the Red Rock Valley where he works a claim. Coppermine Creek is named after this site.
  • Hansen's sawmill at the Maskinonge is closed after a heavy flood causes damage and bankruptcy.
  • 1909

  • Canon Samuel H. Middleton and F.W.Godsal continue to push for further protection of the Waterton area (Kootenay Lakes Forest Park).
  • 1910

  • May 11, Glacier National Park is established.
  • The first lots in Waterton townsite surveyed; 150 lots offered for leaseholds at $15/annum rental for waterfront lots, $10/annum for back lots.
  • Approximately 2,000 people visit Waterton.
  • 1911

  • Kootenay Lakes Forest Reserve is officially renamed Waterton Lakes National Park and receives more protection but its size is reduced to 35 sq. km.
  • Visitation for Waterton is only 64 people.
  • Jack Hazzard builds the first hotel in the townsite.
  • A dance hall is built (by E. Haug, Sr.)
  • The first passenger (4 hp) launch operates on Upper Waterton Lake.
  • An estimated fifteen thousand (15000) head of livestock are grazing on park lands.
  • 1912

  • A timber bridge is built over Pass (Blakiston) Creek at a cost of over $1,000.00!
  • 1913

  • U.S. Ranger Albert, "Death-on-the-Trail" Reynolds, a friend of Kootenai Brown's and National Parks dies in Pincher Creek due to complications related to frost bite.
  • 1914

  • Due to old age and failing health Kootenai Brown is retired from the rank of Superintendent to that of Park Warden.
  • The Cameron Lake area is included into Waterton Lakes National Park as part of a boundary increase.
  • 1915

  • A pile-and-trestle bridge is built over Waterton River.
  • A biweekly mail service is established to Pincher Creek.
  • A passenger launch called the "Linnae" (capacity 75 passengers) launched on Upper Waterton Lake.
  • 1916

  • Kootenai Brown dies and is buried with his first wife on the shores of lower Waterton Lake.
  • 1917

  • A campground is cleared near Cameron Falls.
  • 1919

  • Major fires occur around Oil City and east of the Belly River.
  • 9,000 people visit Waterton.
  • 1920

  • Fish stocking begins.
  • Bull Trout (known then as Dolly Varden) is chosen as the logo for park auto stickers.
  • Mrs. Hunter catches record lake trout out of Upper Waterton Lake weighing in at 23.4 kg. (51 lbs. 12oz.).
  • Elk, which had been absent (extirpated) from the area since the late 1800's, are seen again.
  • Telephone service is extended from Cardston to Waterton.
  • A summer RCMP detachment from Fort Macleod is established in the park.
  • Cameron Lake is open for fishing and a campground is built on its north shore.
  • 1921

  • Construction begins on the Akamina Highway.
  • 1923

  • Plans for a 40 to 60-foot high irrigation dam across the Bosporus narrows are finally dropped, largely due to American opposition.
  • 1924

  • The park now has - a stable, bunkhouse, a garage, a warehouse, a granary, an incinerator, a blacksmith shop, hay barns, government buildings, post office, telephone building, a hotel, cottages for rent, rooming house, restaurant, dance hall, 2 general stores, RCMP station, playgrounds, tennis courts, golf course, rowboats, gas motor launches, saddle and packhorse outfits and many summer cottages.
  • 1927

  • The Prince of Wales Hotel opens on July 25th.
  • A 250-passenger launch, the "M.V. International", is built and a year later begins operating on the upper lake.
  • Bus service to Glacier National Park in Montana begins.
  • Akamina Highway to Cameron Lake opens.
  • 1929

  • Joe Cosley, a legendary mountain man and former US ranger, is charged with poaching in the Belly River and fined $100.
  • Summer tent camp, restaurant and row boat rental operation is opened by Mr. and Mrs. Cal Hunter at Cameron Lake.
  • 1930

  • Conflicting use of park resources, along with preservation concerns, prompts a shift in direction for National Parks. Under the direction of James Bernard Harkin, the National Parks Act is created:

    "National parks are hereby dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment, and such parks shall be maintained so as to leave them unimpaired for the use of future generations" (Section 4, National Parks Act, 1930)

  • 1931

  • The resident townsite population increases to about 300; facilities include - 2 main hotels (Prince of Wales: $8/single room; and the Waterton Lake Hotel and Chalets: $2/single room), 4 rooming houses, 125 cottages (80 of them for rent), a drugstore, 2 butcher shops, 5 restaurants, 2 churches, a dance hall, police barracks, swimming pool, school house and 14 government buildings.
  • 1932

  • Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park established, due to efforts of the Alberta and Montana Rotary Clubs.
  • 1933

  • The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park opens.
  • The Prince of Wales Hotel closes for the next three years, due to the depression.
  • 1935

  • An 18-hole golf course is completed in Waterton.
  • A serious forest fire, caused by lightning, starts up Boundary Creek valley in Glacier and spreads as far as Bertha Creek before rain and a north wind puts it out.
  • Mrs. Isabell Brown (Kootenai's second wife) dies and is buried beside her husband.
  • 1936

  • The Chief Mountain Highway officially opens.
  • During Peace Park celebrations, a cairn is erected on Waterton Avenue to commemorate Kootenai Brown.
  • Jammer Buses begin operating in Glacier and Waterton. The name "jammer" derives from the drivers being called jammer drivers. The buses had non-synchronised transmissions so the drivers had to jam the gears. In 1996, there were 34 jammers operating in the park.
  • A final, and very dry, oil well drilled at Oil City.
  • 1939

  • Mr. George Baker starts an operation at Cameron Lake that would eventually include - rustic cabins, rowboats, store, restaurant, service station, diesel power plant.
  • 1942

  • Wartime restrictions force closure of the Prince of Wales Hotel for three years.
  • 1944

  • The Chief Mountain Port of Entry closes due to wartime restrictions.
  • 1947

  • Calgary Power extends electricity to Waterton.
  • Twin cairns erected by Alberta and Montana Rotarians at Chief Mountain Port of Entry to commemorate the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
  • Cattle grazing is discontinued in the park due to competition with elk herds in winter range and degradation of natural grassland habitats.
  • 1952

  • Six prairie bison shipped from Elk Island National Park to Waterton (put in a paddock area completed the previous year).
  • The Bakers purchase the Lady Cameron Launch and begin summer tours on Cameron lake.
  • 1958

  • The Visitor Reception Centre is built.
  • 1960

  • An outdoor theatre is opened in the townsite campground.
  • 1964

  • On June 7-9, the park experiences a bad flood.
  • 1965

  • Crandell Mountain campground opens.
  • The Bakers' operation is bought out by the Parks Department and over time it is slowly dismantled.
  • 1968

  • Oil City is designated as a National Historic Site.
  • 1973

  • New Falls Theatre built.
  • 1975

  • The park experiences another bad spring flood.
  • A new tertiary treatment sewage system is installed, eliminating dumping of sewage into the upper lake.
  • Cameron Lake campground is closed and buildings removed.
  • 1976

  • Gerry and Leslie Muza arrive to work in visitor services/private sector.
  • 1977

  • First and only bear-caused mortality in the park's history.
  • Ospreys' nest material shorts out power to Waterton and a nest platform is eventually built.
  • Public use of snowmobiles ceases in the park.
  • 1979

  • Waterton Lakes National Park is declared an International Biosphere Reserve, the second in Canada.
  • 1982

  • To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the International Peace Park pavilion officially opens on the lakeshore of Upper Waterton Lake (townsite).
  • 1983

  • The Waterton Natural History Association is formed by a group of volunteers to help promote the goals and ideals of the park.
  • 1985

  • The 100th anniversary of national parks is celebrated in parks across the country.
  • 1988

  • Fish stocking discontinued.
  • Section 5.1.2. of the National Parks Act revision clarifies Parks Canada's number one priority:

    "Maintenance of ecological integrity through the protection of natural resources shall be the first priority when considering park zoning and visitor use ...

  • 1994

  • Prince of Wales Hotel is designated a National Historic Site.
  • The use of personal water craft (jet skis) disallowed in the park.
  • 1995

  • Waterton and area experiences another flood on June 6th.
  • Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is designated as a World Heritage Site on December 6th.
  • Waterton Lakes National Park's centennial year.

If you would like more information please mail to:
Parks Canada 
Waterton Park, Alberta,
Canada. TOK 2MO
Phone 403-859-2224

 
 
waterton hiking white dot
waterton lakes green dot This site created by Waterton Park Information Services, in friendly Waterton Park, Alberta, Canada. If you have any problems or advice, Please e-mail us at WPIS