2022-07-03 Return to Grande Prairie

Franklin's Gull - Leucophaeus pipixcan
Franklin’s Gulls were numerous at Crystal Lake on my third visit to Grande Prairie. It came on January Third, as I was driving from Dawson Creek to Slave Lake.

When I arrived in Grande Prairie, I drove straight to Crystal Lake and spent a few hours there (read about my earlier visit Here!). There weren’t many new actors on stage, but the Trumpeter Swans were now towing cygnets with them. In fact, like the proud parents they were, they showed them off from much closer than I’d have expected; perhaps 60 yards out from the observation deck. Red-Winged Blackbirds were now feeding full-sized juveniles, and Franklin’s Gulls dominated the ‘gull-scene’, with a few Ring-Billed Gulls scattered in.

I enjoyed my time with these birds, but I think I spent as much time conversing with the old-timers there as I did with the birds. One of the old guys and I chatted for quite a while. We’d both retired with long experience as electricians, and in my case, related fields.

The Fourth of July doesn’t get much attention here in Canada. Last Friday, July 1st, is their closest equivalent. Called “Canada Day”, it celebrates Canadian autonomy, which resulted from a campaign of Canadian delegates petitioning the British for self rule. It was on July 1, 1867 that the Eastern and Maritime Provinces gained their independence. Two years later, the vast holdings of the Hudson Bay Company in the west were added to the nation.

Many historians view the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 as the event that unified the assembly of provinces into a single, cohesive nation. I’m reminded of Gordon Lightfoot’s epic masterpiece, “The Canadian Railroad Trilogy” when I think of those times. And he wrote: 

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run,
Long before the white man, and long before the wheel,
When the wild, majestic mountains stood alone against the sun,
Where the deep green forests were too silent to be real.

I took my leave from Grande Prairie with a plan to do a lot of driving. With 196 miles of road to Slave Lake, it was unlikely I’d get all the way there by the end of the day. So I found a birding destination between these two points called Lake Kimiwan and stopped to visit what the locals claim is “The Birding Capital of Canada”. But that story will come later.

Click map markers to reveal further information