Cold Lake did not get its name by accident - for a good seven months of the year it is not a warm place in which to be living! During the last visit by my wife and I, in the final week of December, 2007 we finally encountered what it was like to be in Cold Lake during the start of a Canadian winter.
The weather was actually quite nice - no major snowfalls and sunny every day, but the weather was a consistant -23 C in the mornings. At least there was no wind activating the 'wind-chill' effect as I took these early morning views of the town from the hill above where we were staying. The great thing about winter is that it freezes the lake solid, so people are able to skate on it, play ice hockey, drive trucks and snowmobiles on it, ice-fish or anything else you want to do - they even have a local ski hill close to the shores of the lake! One thing about living in Canada - winter is a constant (at least until Global Warming really takes over), so people have learned to enjoy it! May as well, since you can't beat it!
On our second visit to Cold Lake, it turned out that we were there on July 1, which happens to be both Canada's birthday (139th) and our son-in-laws! It started out as a sunny day, so we decided that some swimming in the lake itself was in order. Kevin had access to a rustic old Air Force-owned cabin in a more remote part of Cold Lake Provincial Park (North Shore) located directly across the lake from the town itself. Normally, this is where the enlisted men come to blow off a bit of steam but it was our turn this time.
With the grandchildren, we played in the sand, threw a Frisbee and swam while the sun shone. A young German Shepherd dog was kept amused by throwing a fairly large section of a tree trunk into the lake for her to retrieve! After a while, a few dark clouds appeared and we retreated to the verandah for a while with our beer and wine as the rain sputtered down.
While we were there, we spotted a huge White Pelican flying out over the lake. These large birds with a 8-9 foot wingspan nest in central North America during the summer months. Unlike their smaller Brown Pelican tropical cousins, they hunt fish by skimming the surface of the water instead of a headlong plunge after their prey.
The actual lake spans the Alberta-Saskatchewan border with its pristine waters, providing a great playground for boating and swimming in the summer. In addition to the water activities, this area is home to over 200 bird species. During those long cold winter months, you can pass the time ice-fishing, snowmobiling or cross-country skiing!
In this photo, as I looked down onto the Marina from 7th street, there seemed to be plenty of boats still geared up for pleasure in the waning days of summer. I noticed several Cormorants swimming or sunning themselves in or near the clear water in the foreground.
..is located at Cold Lake Provincial Park. It is nature at its best. Beautiful beaches and gorgeous sunsets and a calmness that is unmeasurable. All you hear are the noises the birds make ...
There are however firepits as well where we roasted our wieners and marshmellows.
French bay is also the location for some nice Indian Lore, of KINOSOO, the Legend of Cold Lake..
Many years ago, before the first white settlers invaded the wildernesss around Cold Lake, when only mossy footpaths marked the passage of humans and rings of blackened stones protecting cold ashes told of recent teepee camps , a young Indian brave lived and hunted in the area.
One night, as he had often done before, he set out to cross the lake to visit his betrothed, paddling his canoe swiftly and strongly. Near the mouth of what is now French Bay , a huge fish rose from the water
took the canoe into its cavernoues mouth, and snapped it in two. The young Indian maiden never saw her brave warrior again, but the pieces of canoe were found floating in the lake the following day..For many years after, no Indian dared to cross the lake.
"I would never believed it unlesss I saw it for myself. There I was, minding my own business, fishing for Lake Trout actually, when a huge wave crashed violently into the side of my boat. It was a calm day, I couldn't figure out where the wave came from or why it was so big..Then I remembered Kinosoo. Since that day I have always been a little bit nervous when I go fishing in Cold Lake", said a local fisherman.
The large Lake Trout caught in Cold Lake today may be the smaller brother of the "big fish"- as far as anyone knows, the big fish is still there..:)
As I wandered along the shoreline in Cold Lake Provincial Park, I came across these two gentlemen getting ready to set off for a short paddle. One of them was visiting from Toronto and his relative, a member of the Base, was taking him out for some bird-watching.
I was curious regarding their small one-man type craft - it was neither kayak nor canoe! When I asked them about it, the younger man said that it was a special boat (it looked like it was made from plastic) used by the Canadian Forces. It is light, tough and easily transported.
Located practically within the outskirts of town (only 3 km or 2 miles away), Cold Lake Provincial Park (opened in July, 1983) provides a great place to enjoy the wilderness of Canada without any great hassles. I took a leisurely drive through it on a 12 C and sunny day to see what it had to offer.
Whether you are on land or the water, there are plenty of birds to observe, including western grebes, various types of Warblers and Flycatchers as well as the usual assortment of ducks and sea birds. It was not far from here that I was totally amazed to see Pelicans!!! Of course you have to be careful that you are not being observed yourself by the moose, deer, coyote, lynx, bear and fishers that also inhabit this area!
The various bits of the park are joined by well-maintained unpaved roads, leading to the boat dock, playgrounds, beaches and camping areas. The park is open for camping from May to October inclusive at a cost per site of US$13-15.
Perched on its pedestal in Joe Heffner Memorial Park (50th Ave.), at the start of the street leading to the main Base, is this outstanding monument to one of the world's most amazing airplanes.
As a child, I remember being awed by the Canadair (Lockheed) CF-104 Starfighter which served in the Royal Canadian Air Force from the late 1950's until 1986. Designed as a light tactical bomber for delivery of a nuclear weapon onto specific battlefield targets, this is an airplane that could move. With a top speed of 1500 mph, it was able to break 9 world records including sustained speed (1404 mph) and altitude (91,243 feet) in 1958 as well as seven time-to-altitude records. Its stubby wings combined with its huge engine led to its having two nick-names: the 'rocket with a man in it' and 'the widow-maker' because of its unforgiving nature if a pilot made the slightest miscalculation while flying it. A total of 340 of these aircraft were built under license by the Canadian government with a squadron always based in Lahr, Germany until their retirement.