Beaver River (Canada)
The Beaver south of Lac La Biche, Alberta
|Origin||Beaver Lake (Alberta)|
|Mouth||Lac Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan
|Length||491 kilometers (305 mi)|
|Mouth elevation||421 meters (1,381 ft)|
|Avg. discharge||653,000,000 m3/year (AB/SK border)|
|Basin area||14,500 km2 (Alberta)|
Beaver River is a large river in east-central Alberta and central Saskatchewan, Canada. It flows east through Alberta and Saskatchewan and then turns sharply north to flow into Lac Île-à-la-Crosse on the Churchill River which flows into Hudson Bay. It marks the approximate northern limit of paved roads and dense population. The Alberta part is in the Cold Lake oil sands.
Beaver River has a catchment area of 14,500 km2 in Alberta, where it drains the lake system in Lac La Biche County. The total length is 491 km. It was first documented on the Turnor map of 1790, and then confirmed on the Harmon map of 1820.
River basin and course
The east-flowing part is at the approximate northern limit of paved roads and reasonably dense population. It passes in and out of the forest zone several times and is approximately parallel to Alberta Highway 55 and Saskatchewan Highway 55. Its source, Beaver Lake (Alberta) is just south of Lac la Biche (Alberta) which drains into the Athabasca. It exits Beaver Lake on the west side and flows south until it receives from the west the Amisk River. The outflow of Moose Lake (Alberta) comes in from the south. It enters Saskatchewan just south of Cold Lake (Alberta) and from Cold Lake the Waterhen River (Saskatchewan) runs just north of and parallel to it. In Saskatchewan it receives from the southwest the outflow of Minnistikwan Lake and then the outflow of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan to the south. At the great bend it receives from the south a river from Green Lake, Saskatchewan.
The north-flowing part flows through thinly-populated boreal forest. Saskatchewan Highway 155 follows its west bank. It receives from the east a river draining Cowan Lake (Saskatchewan) and Deleronde Lake, from the west the Waterhen River, from the east Doré River draining Doré Lake. The highway leaves the river at what appears to be Beauval airport and near Beauval, Saskatchewan it receives the outflow of Lac la Plonge from the east. It continues northward east of the south arm of the lake and enters Lac Île-à-la-Crosse across the lake from Île-à-la-Crosse town.
Also: Fork Creek, Columbine Creek, (Muriel Creek, Reita Creek south of Cold Lake(?)), Redspring Creek
Exploration and fur trade
The river, or parts of it, is described as poor canoe country. Crews had to drag their canoes over the shallow parts and there was little game. The mouth of the Beaver River is on the main axis of the fur trade. The upper Beaver is about 50 miles north of the North Saskatchewan. From at least 1795 buffalo pemmican was brought north to feed the voyageurs on their way to the Athabasca Country. One route led south to the great bend of the Beaver, through Green Lake, Saskatchewan and over an Indian track to Fort Carlton. In 1875-76 this was replaced by a cart road at about the time steamboats appeared on the Saskatchewan. Another route went further up the Beaver to Moose Lake (Alberta) and by some route to Fort George.
The first European to reach the Beaver may have Louis Primeau in 1767. About 1768 William Pink was on the river. He went northwest from the lower Saskatchewan followed the Beaver west and returned to the Saskatchewan near Edmonton. In 1776 Primeau working for Thomas Frobisher built a post on Lac Île-à-la-Crosse. In 1781 Montreal traders built Cold Lake House near Beaver Crossing, Alberta. In perhaps 1782 the Northwest Company built a post on Green Lake. In 1798 David Thompson used the Beaver to reach Lac La Biche. In 1799 the Hudson's Bay Company decided to push west up the Churchill from Frog Portage. In that year they built rival posts on Lac Île-à-la-Crosse and Green Lake. They also built a post above the great bend at Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan that only lasted two years. There was a great deal of conflict between the two companies until the merger in 1821.
Conservation and development
Beaver River flows through a predominantly flat area with rolling and undulating hills, and many lakes are drained through meandering streams into the river; among the larger ones are: Pinehurst Lake, Cold Lake (Alberta) and Primrose Lake.
Lakeland Provincial Park, Moose Lake Provincial Park and Cold Lake Provincial Park all lie in the river basin on the Alberta side, while the Meadow Lake Provincial Park protects a large area in Saskatchewan.
The Cold Lake Area Weapons Range occupies much of the northern area of the river basin.