Ghost Lake History

Ghost Lake

The Jewel of

Providing a myriad of recreational opportunities throughout the year, Ghost Lake is one of the only desirable destination lakes easily accessible from Calgary. The lake is actually a reservoir created by Calgary Power Ltd. in 1929 and is still used for hydroelectric power generation. More importantly, this confluence of the Bow and Ghost rivers offer spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and clean, clear water for recreational and sporting enjoyment.

Ghost Lake is situated on the edge of the foothills. It is named for the Ghost River, which flows into the east end of the reservoir. It is said that the name is derived from native tales of a ghost that prowled the river valley collecting the skulls of Blackfoot Indians felled by Cree warriors in battle. In 1873, the area was settled by Reverend John McDougall, who established a mission and cattle ranch near present-day Morley. The Hudson’s Bay Company also established a trading post near Ghost Lake in 1874.

Today, Ghost Lake has become a popular recreational and sporting destination for Albertans. The water is clear and inviting and encourages boating, sailing, windsurfing, swimming, waterskiing and so much more in the warmer months. In the winter, Ghost Lake accommodates both skaters, ice boarders and fishing enthusiasts. In fact, Ghost Lake provides year round fishing of over 11 indigenous species including lake trout, mountain whitefish and rainbow trout.


Geology Of The Bow River Region

The History of the Ghost River Bridge

This photograph taken July 1st, 1928 shows the original Ghost River route. It is glacier and snowmelt fed from miles upstream forming the headwaters at Mount Aylmer, where there is still another quarter mile of flow into the Bow River.

The bridge’s base supports are surprisingly deep and incorporate a Pratt truss design, popular between 1844 and the early 20th century. Originally made of wood and later metal (notably steel).

The Pratt was extensively used by railroad companies, as each individual span could measure up to 250 feet (76 metres).

Today’s bridge was constructed from 1927 to 1928, the same time that the Ghost Lake Dam was created to provide hydro-electric power.

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Bridge over spillway Glenbow Archives NA 1644-64. Interesting Outcrops In The Bow River Region

The History of GHOST DAM

One day in the 1920’s G.A. Gaherty and G.H. Thompson, engineers and Calgary Power Limited officials, stood atop a high bank overlooking (what was then) the junction of the free-flowing Ghost and Bow Rivers. They decided it was ideal location to situate a hydro-electric dam (generating power for Alberta’s growing city population). Soon after, there was a bustle of workmen, narrow gauge tracks and small steam engines hauling clay and gravel to build the mile-long earth dam. Today, the dam supplies power to Calgary during electrical ‘surge’ demands.

When the first powerhouse was built, an ornamental cement wall was constructed with three sides and vents to accommodate the water run-off. In fall of 1930, high winds blew waves over the dam and the vents jammed with gravel, causing the roof to collapse. Tons of water poured in, nearly drowning two employees, Bill Carle and Doug Lamont who had to swim for their lives. Generators were overhauled, the plant repaired and production resumed.

Single men working here were “sternly but lovingly” kept in order by housekeeper, Mrs. Nisbet, during her 17-year tenure (residing here with her nine children until well after the Second WorldWar - the very first CottageClub community).

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CottageClub - Where Family & Friends Stay & Play

The developers understood that a unique, eco-conscious approach to working with this magnificent land was necessary to protect the existing native landscape. The land would not be stripped and graded like other developments; rather an innovative “Sheet Flow Storm Water Management Model” would be used. Moreover, the developer wanted high-quality, low-footprint cottages - second homes built to last - utilizing materials manufactured within 100 miles wherever possible.

Architectural guidelines were carefully designed and actualized to ensure these values would be followed.

Today, in addition to their cottages, “CottageClubbers” enjoy:

  • Private, gated entry & wildlife friendly perimeter fencing
  • Fresh water lake, sandy beaches, boat launch & community dock
  • BBQ, picnic & patio areas & outdoor pizza oven
  • A 10,000 square foot Private Recreation Centre
  • Indoor pool & fitness
  • Tennis, pickle-ball & volleyball courts, playgrounds & sky observatory
  • Extensive nature trails, native foliage & protected green spaces
  • Water treatment plant, distributing high-quality ground water*
  • *Drawn from 298 feet below surface

The developers first walked this land in 2006. Gazing across beautiful Ghost Lake towards the ‘shining mountains’, they walked the native grasslands. Yes! An excellent location for cottages - just 35 minutes West of Calgary - perfect!

Welcome to CottageClub!

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The canadian cottage tradition

The Canadian love affair with “going to the cottage” began in the 1920’s. Weekends and summer months were joyful occasions - just about everything but the kitchen sink would be loaded onto trams, railway platforms and into early motorcars to simple cottages, hours away, that began sprouting along lakes and rivers.

Fishing, canoeing, boating, berry picking and ball games were hugely popular. Evenings in those early days (with no electricity) were social affairs for all ages. Dances, sing-songs, musicals

and storytelling around the camp-fire were occasions spent long into summer evenings with stars overhead shining bright. “Cottages”, are still handed down today from generation togeneration and valued for their time-honoured tradition of family gatherings. The same love of fresh air, woodlands magic and shorelines revisited, time and time again, still remains.

Neighbours drop in and friends and family visit - ‘cottage life’ is all about community.

The first cottager dwellers in the area arrived in the 1930’s. They were known as the first of the summer people, the ‘first cottagers’.

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