Archeological evidence of stone tools suggests the original shores of Alberta’s Lake Minnewanka served as camping and hunting grounds as long as 10,000 years ago. The Stony people named the glacial lake “Minn-waki” or ” Lake of the Spirits” for the gale force winds that appear from nowhere and blow mercilessly over the water.
“There’s an entire village under Lake Minnewanka” quips Hubby on our hike.
As I look about this jewel of Banff National Park I exclaim to my trivia king ” Exactly where could a village be hiding?”
“Under the water,” he nonchalantly throws back. ” It happened when the lake rose about 100 feet”
Having seen flooding in the area I can appreciate increased water flow but almost a ten story building?
“In the late 1800s there was a log hotel constructed on the shores of the lake. Likely now that would be somewhere out there in the middle,” explains my personal guide waving a finger toward the center of quiet lake.
“By the early 1900s Minnewanka Landing was a summer resort with restaurants, wharves and even cruise boats!” My personal historian went on and on.
“Are we getting to the part about the sunken village yet?” I moaned as we walked along. My attention span is that of a gnat.
“It’s all got to do with dams and electricity,” explains Hubby.
“Well that sounds like a dreadful combination. No wonder the village got in trouble.” I think I received an eye roll for that one.
In 1912 a dam was built to store water for a hydro electric plant. Then after a 20 years of arguing between those wanting power development and those pressing for park protection, a second dam was built in 1941. The Canadian government approved it under the War Measures Act. They proposed that the power was needed to supply the war effort.
That was the summarized version so as not to have you nod off.
Really how can he store this all stuff in his brain?
” Can you imagine if today anyone suggested that a village in a Canadian National Park be covered up with water to provide power?! ” I exclaim.
I have visions of thousands of protestors lining the streets of Banff as I write. They won’t be looking for maple syrup or a stuffed toy moose to take home that’s for sure.
How can I see the town under Lake Minnewanka?
The only way to see the the ghost town, now 60 feet below the waters of Lake Minnewanka, is with scuba gear. Considering the temperature of a mountain lake being fed by glaciers this seems relatively unappealing. I don’t care how good wet suits are these days.
Those brave souls who have made the plunge report all foundations are still present, along with railroad tracks, power towers and the original wharf.
The name Lake of the Spirits seems particularly fitting.
What do you think? Have we convinced you to come explore Lake Minnewanka and the Canadian Rockies with us?