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Duck Lake

Town, pop 624, located 88 km NE of Saskatoon and 44 km SW of Prince Albert at the junction of Hwys 11 and 212. The Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation lands and the North Saskatchewan River are located to the west of the community; the South Saskatchewan River lies to the east. To the north of Duck Lake is the vast wilderness of the Nisbet Provincial Forest. The name of the town is taken from a body of water immediately southwest of the community, which was long known to the indigenous population of the area as a significant stopping place for migratory waterfowl. The community of Duck Lake is situated in a region of historic importance: within a short drive from the town is the Batoche National Historic Site, the Battle of Fish Creek National Historic Site, the historic site of the Battle of Duck Lake, Fort Carlton Provincial Historic Park, Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine at St. Laurent, and the Seager Wheeler Farm National Historic Site. Within the town are the 1890s NWMP jailhouse in which Almighty Voice was imprisoned, an 1890s Anglican church, and a 1914 school, which was one of only two Protestant separate schools in Saskatchewan. All three of these buildings have been designated heritage properties. The Carlton Trail passed by Duck Lake, and Red River Métis established temporary camps in the area, from which to pursue the Bison as the herds moved further westward. In 1870, following the Red River Rebellion, there was an influx of Métis settlers to the Duck Lake area, and hence the beginning of a permanent settlement. Over the ensuing decades, not only was Duck Lake at the centre of events at the beginning of the North-West Resistance, it was also a hub of a burgeoning Pioneer society. Substantial numbers of French settlers were among those who came to the area. The railway to Prince Albert was completed in 1890, and Duck Lake became a point of disembarkation for many Pioneers venturing out into the prairie. Today, tourism focusing upon the history of the First Nations, Métis, and pioneer societies of the area has developed into a major industry for the town; the Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Centre, opened in 1992, now draws several thousand visitors a year. The town also has eleven large and colourful outdoor murals depicting the history of the region. An additional community attraction is the gallery of a notable Saskatchewan artist, Glen Scrimshaw. Annual events include a three-day powwow, held in late August, and a rodeo hosted by the Duck Lake Métis Society. Back-to-Batoche Days and two pilgrimages to the St. Laurent Shrine draw each summer thousands of people.

David McLennan

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