Photo By Wendy Nuttall
Cypress Hills Past & Present
The history of the Cypress Hills begins with ancient peoples and First Nation’s people. The hills provided shelter and food for the people, who through their song, dance and the creation of boulder monuments provided the hills with a spiritual thank you.
Effigies and Boulder Monuments were stones and rocks placed in sequence to guide travellers, and for ceremonial dance. These are the reasons that we know of there are probably others. Perhaps as a form of art or creative expression. Boulder Monuments are known to be in the forms of turtles, salamanders like the one near Mankota, Saskatchewan, or serpents that traverse along the ground for many metres.
Human forms, bison and birds there are many different ones. A similar boulder monument to the one in this picture, is in the book titled ‘Boulder Monuments of Saskatchewan’, By G. Ian Brace.
First Nations Women now teach basket weaving. Wes Eng the owner of The Resort at Cypress Hills stops by to chat and admire the craftsmanship of the baskets. Note: The lodgepole pine in the wooden frame of the teepee and the trees that surround the clearing, where the teepee and basket weavers are situated. The lodgepole pines were a flora species misidentification. They were originally identified as Cypress Trees by the first European’s to explore the area. Hence the name Cypress Hills.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is the first interprovincial park in Canada and it provides benefits to both Alberta and Saskatchewan. The provinces have a common goal of preserving this unique geographic area. The Cypress Hills were untouched by the Laurentide Glacier during the last Wisconsin glaciation. The hills are the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the Torngat Mountains in Labrador. The one of the highest lookouts in the Cypress Park is “Head of the Mountain” at 1446 meters (4557 feet).
The view looking down the Battle Creek Valley towards Fort Walsh, from a lookout at the Historic Reesor Ranch. Notice the conglomerate outcropping on the far left. Conglomerate formations are abundant in Cypress Hills.
The park provides local, national and international visitors the opportunity to expose their senses to the smell of pines mingled with prairie sage. The alpine landscape provides an ecosystem for orchids, lodge pole pines and unusual species of vegetation which thrive at these higher elevations. The park provides lovers of the Cypress Hills a place to form new friendships, a shared sense of pride and to offer “I wish you were here” invitations to fellow Canadians and International visitors.
Saskatchewan and Alberta work together to promote tourism which provides a financial boost to both local and provincial economies. There is a coalition of ranchers and their associations in the two provinces to provide summer grazing for cattle on the grasslands inside of the Interprovincial Park, which provides an agricultural economic benefit. This economic arrangement helps to provide financial sustainability for ranch and farm families of the two provinces
Moose, cattle, horses, mule deer, elk, and whitetail deer co-habitat together in the Cypress Hills.
Young Bull Moose Browses on Aspen and Hawthorne Bushes.
From the days of the buffalo hunts to the cattle roundups and equestrian trail rides of today, the horse has played an important role in the partnership between Cypress Hills, humans and animals.
There are many partnerships including fish and game clubs, summer and winter recreational activities, Dark Sky Preserve and art programs that preserve and sustain the park. The newest partnership is The Cypress Hills Destination Area (CHDA). The CHDA includes local towns and villages, B & B’s, local eateries, guest ranches and artists. People who want to promote the park and the surrounding areas as a vacation destination
At the Artists Cabin, during the summer ‘Art in the Park’ programs in the Centre Block, children and adults join together to photograph nature. What has captured the attention of these young photographers you wonder? This species at risk the Northern Leopard Frog is very photogenic.
In nearby Maple Creek also known as the Gateway to Cypress Hills, a CHDA member offers “goat yoga” which has proven to be a very popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
The Cypress Hills are ready to welcome anyone looking for “an oasis on the prairies”.
Reesor Lake, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, with summer skies in an alpine setting.
BY, Wendy Nuttall,
Writer & Photography
BY, Wendy Nuttall,
Writer & Photography