Fishing Lakes

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The Fishing Lakes (Assiniboine: ohókuwa [1]) are a chain of four lakes in the Qu'Appelle Valley cottage country some 40 miles (64 km) to the northeast of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Qu'Appelle Residential School, one of the now-notorious Indian residential schools, Lebret, Qu'Appelle Valley 1921

The perimeters of Pasqua, Echo, Mission and Katepwa Lakes are the location of several provincial parks, public swimming beaches and are — where not public property or aboriginal reserves — intermittently built up with private cottages and youth summer camps. They are fed by the [[Qu'Appelle River]], by underground aquifers and by numerous creeks flowing through [[coulee]]s that open into the valley.

B-Say-Tah Point on Echo Lake, 2008

Because the flow of water through the lakes is very sluggish — the Qu'Appelle river is little more than a small creek at this point in the Valley — and because the runoff from the surrounding farmland contains large amounts of farm fertilizer, the lakes have since the middle of the 20th century been subject to severe attacks of algae as summer draws on. Often by August each year the beaches cannot be used for swimming and those who wish to swim must go to deeper water by boat.

Fort Qu'Appelle, between Echo and Mission Lakes, was originally a Hudson's Bay Company trading post; the original factor's buildings are maintained as a museum.

Fort San looking towards Fort Qu'Appelle, 1920s

There has been some inclination by would-be tourism-promotion elements to rename the Fishing Lakes as the "Calling Lakes" in order further to stress the legend of the Qu'Appelle Valley as popularised at the turn of the 20th century by E. Pauline Johnson. The effort has met with resistance from historically minded locals with authentic roots in the locale and has not thus far met with success.

Notable locales on the Fishing Lakes include:

Echo Lake, south shore
  • Fort Qu'Appelle, now a resort town and local centre of commerce but historically a Hudson's Bay Company fort whose factory is maintained as a museum and historic site adjacent to the modern town site;
  • The Qu'Appelle Residential School, one of the notorious Indian Residential Schools, on the scenic south shore of Mission Lake, burned to the ground soon after its closing in the 1970s;
  • The "Echo" site at Lebret above the picturesque mission church
  • Fort San, long a tuberculosis sanatorium and latterly a notable summer school of the arts until its closure by the provincial government in the 1990s;
  • Resort communities on all four of the Fishing Lakes but notably at B-Say-Tah and Katepwah beaches.

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Coordinates: 50°45′N 103°51′W / 50.750°N 103.850°W / 50.750; -103.850