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A visit to Regina Saskatchewan wouldn't be complete without a trip to Last Mountain Lake. The lake was named for a local Cree legend that the Great Spirit scooped out earth to form Last Mountain hill some 12 miles to the west with the resulting hole becoming Last Mountain Lake. The lake is sometimes called Long Lake due to the fact it is about 60 miles long but only two miles wide. At over 57,000 acres, Last Mountain Lake is the largest lake in Saskatchewan; only Lake Diefenbaker (created by damming) is larger. Only 25 miles north of Regina, Last Mountain Lake is a popular destination for local residents and is gaining fans among visitors to the area.
A glacial pothole lake, Last Mountain Lake gained it's water from melting glacial ice thousands of years ago. Water now enters from Lanigan Creek, the Arm River, Lewis Creek and run-off from the surrounding countryside. At the south end, the lake dwindles to a stream emptying into the Qu'Appelle River. The first recorded European settlement along the lake was a Hudson's Bay Company complex of four buildings along the south shore in 1869. The Company used the complex for temporary quarters for employees and fur storage in the waning days of the fur trade on the Saskatchewan Plains. One of the employees wrote of seeing, in 1869, the last massive herd of bison on the plains. The complex has been restored and exists for visitors to explore at the Last Mountain House Provincial Park.
To the south of Last Mountain Lake, the small settlement of Regina - once called Pile-Of-Bones - grew. Settlers soon began to farm the fertile plains around the lake. By 1905, a small stern-wheeler named Lady-Of-The-Lake and later, the Qu'Appelle ferried loads of grain, supplies and settlers up and down the lake. The freight was short-lived as the railroad quickly appeared and took over the business. The stern-wheeler continued in operation until 1913 as an excursion boat when it was beached at Silton. In the World War I victory celebration of 1918 it was used to fuel the celebratory bonfire. Small settlements continued to grow along the shoreline, often cottage communities for summer residents. Today, there are about 35 cottage settlements along the shores. Some of the larger ones are Glen Harbour, Alice Beach, Weetoo Beach, Mohr's Beach, Etter's Beach, Arlington Beach, Grandview Beach, Colesdale Park, Pelican Pointe, Eldora Beach, Regina Beach, Sunset Cove, Island View, Saskatchewan Beach and Buena Vista. In addition to the cottage communities, Rowans Ravine Provincial Park and three Regional Parks provide plenty of access for day visitors and campers to reach the water. A full service marina is located at the Provincial Park with launch facilities, convenience store and all necessary supplies for a day on the water. Several excellent sandy beaches are located along the lake.
All types of watersports are enjoyed on Last Mountain Lake. Sailing is especially favored as the windy expanse lends itself perfectly to sailing and windsurfing. A local sailing club provides sailing lessons to anyone interested in learning the sport. Several regattas are held annually on the lake. Waterskiing, jet-skiing, tubing, canoeing and kayaking are also popular. Fishing is also extremely popular: outstanding fishing for northern pike, walleye, common carp, and yellow perch keeps bringing visitors back to this prairie oasis. Walleye often top 12 pounds and northern pike over 30 pounds are known to have been caught. Winter brings ice fishermen to the lake for pike and also burbot. Last Mountain Lake supports one of the most productive fish population in Saskatchewan.
Off the water, Last Mountain Lake provides plenty of activities to enjoy nature and the local wildlife. Rowans Ravine Park maintains miles of hiking trails, playgrounds, ball diamond, horseshoe pits, bike trail and beach volleyball nets. A children's recreation program is in operation for part of the summer. And the northern end of the lake is a National Wildlife Area. Although the south end of the lake is steep slopes and deeper water, the northern end becomes much shallower and contains islands and wetlands that are breeding grounds for many species of migratory birds. Located where two migration paths cross, the area was designated a wildlife protection area before Saskatchewan even became a Province. A wide variety of birds and wildlife inhabit the Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area. Many of the birds can be observed at the Last Mountain Bird Observatory. The wildlife area is supplied with hiking trails where visitors can possibly observe white-tailed deer, fox, badger, coyote, and three species of ground squirrel. A number of rare and endangered species use the area at various times during the year include the Burrowing Owl, Ferruginous Hawk, Peregrine Falcon and the Whooping Crane. In winter, the same trails are used for cross-country skiing and certain areas are open to hunting under strict regulation.
For the visitor who desires a more cosmopolitan evening, Regina is a thoroughly modern city in the midst of the Saskatchewan Plains. With art galleries, theaters, museums, shopping and a variety of nightlife and fine dining, the visitor can get their fill of city lights before heading back to Last Mountain Lake.
Vacation rentals of all types are available at Last Mountain Lake. Regina Beach at the lake's south end often has private cottage rentals available. Bed-and-breakfasts can be located not far away and a few resort cabins may be available. Hotel lodgings can be found near Regina. Real estate is usually available around the lake for those wishing to buy their own piece of lakefront. So, make the trip to Last Mountain Lake and experience for yourself the joys of this oasis on the plains. You'll want to come back year after year!
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