History Bytes Features Moonshine Lake

Photo of Moonshine Lake ice skating Glenbow Archives

History Bytes just posted a history of Moonshine Lake with some great photos from the book 'The Big Bend' published in 1981.  On their Youtube page they have posted a chronological history of Moonshine Lake from the early days when it was gathering spot for locals to its present day incarnation as a provincial park. 

From History Bytes:  

Historical Photo of Moonshine LakeBy Sheila Willis. According to local stories, the Moonshine Trail and Lake got the name as Jack Campbell and Harry Hanrahan, well laden with their product, were pulling up the steep incline on the northern edge of the slough, when some of the brew tipped out and ran back down in the pond.

From then on out the slough, pothole or pond, depending on how you want to look at it - was designated as Moonshine Lake. At the time it was a small body of water, where the grass grew thick surrounded by trees standing sentinel around it.

Historical Photo of Moonshine LakeWith the beautiful view, the smell of mint as the kids rolled around in the grass, it was a favorite picnic spot for local families. Well around 1956 or 1957 the idea for Moonshine Lake Park took hold. Jack Bird, George Esselink and Lawson Scott set about getting people interested in the idea. They formed a local association for the promotion of the park and each donated $100. For a while it was not safe to go into the local store unless braced to either purchase or resist the sale of ticket sales for fundraisers to create the park and the huge some of $384 was raised.

Historical Photo of Moonshine LakeOf course that pot grew and with the funds raised and the help of local people, the outline of the proposed lake was established and the topsoil was pushed into two islands in the eastern end . A.O. Fimrite, the Social Credit MLA of the area, was contacted and became interested.

There was no other provincial park within a 50 mile or 80 kilometre radius. Moonshine Lake Provincial Park was established in April 1959 by Order in Council 592/59.

Historical Photo of Moonshine LakeThe park was originally created for and maintained by the residents but soon became a favorite spot for many people including those from Grande Prairie and Dawson Creek BC.

The provincial park is still there offering year round recreation. The Jack Bird Pond incorporates a wildlife movement corridor with a wetland complex containing a number of beaver ponds and is an excellent bird watching site.

And I would like to credit the Big Bend Historical Committee for the story and some of the images taken from the book “The Big Bend” which they put together in 1981.

 Photos from 'The Big Bend'