The Development of Waterton Lakes National Park

In 1883, Frederick W. Godsal acquired a 20,000-acre grazing lease between the middle and south fork (Castle River) of the Old-Man River, near where Cowley is today. Godsal had many additional interests. His love of travel took him around th world where he made some very influential friends including, James Hector (of the Palliser Expedition) and William Pearce (Superintendent of Mines for Canada). It was his friendship with Pearce that strongly influenced the establishment of Waterton Lakes National Park.

In 1883, Godsal wrote to Pearce urging the government to follow through with Pearce’s suggestion that the Waterton Lakes be reserved as a national park. Pearse enthusiastically forwarded the letter to the Department of the Interior in Ottawa, with a supporting cover letter of his own. The establishment of a reserve met with considerable opposition but it was finally passed. On May 30, 1895, the Governor General, by order in council, created Kootenay Lakes Forest Park around today’s Waterton Lakes. Godsal continued to promote further protection for the area and for the benefit of future Canadians.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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