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Last Mountain Lake

(51°05’N, 105°14’W; Map sheet 72 P/30.) Just 3 km wide, 93 km long and covering 2,312 km., Last Mountain Lake (LML), also called Long Lake, is located 48 km northwest of Regina. Its name commemorates a Cree legend describing how the Great Spirit made the last hills (east of Duval) from soil scooped from the valley now occupied by LML. Scientists say it formed c. 11,000 years ago from meltwaters of the continental ice sheet draining south into the Qu’Appelle glacial spillway.

In 1869, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) built Last Mountain House at the southern end of the lake; Isaac Cowie, clerk for the HBC, described one of the last great herds of buffalo in the region. Settlers arrived by 1885. In 1886 the Qu’Appelle, Long Lake and Saskatchewan Railway and steamboat Co. built a branch line as far as Craven, intending to run a steam ship service along LML, but the rail link to Saskatoon was completed in 1890, bypassing the lake.

Canada’s first federal bird sanctuary was designated on the lake in 1887. Initially covering 1,000 ha, Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area now covers 15,600 ha, protecting nesting and migratory birds. Proximity to Regina makes Last Mountain Lake an important recreation area. It provides some of the best fishing in southern Saskatchewan, as well as bird watching, sailing, boating, and camping from two provincial parks and other recreation areas.

Marilyn Lewry

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