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Moose Mountain

(49°47’ 102°35’; Map sheet E/15). Moose Mountain is located in southeast Saskatchewan on Highway 9, about 15 km north of Carlyle. It forms a plateau covering approximately 13,000 km2. Its maximum elevation is 830 metres, roughly 200 metres higher than the surrounding plains. Before the last continental Glaciation, the upland was capped by Tertiary-age gravels. The advancing ice covered Moose Mountain, but once melting began the plateau was exposed as a drift-covered nunatak rising above the surrounding ice sheet. A short-lived pro-glacial lake (Lake Arcola) was formed along its southern edge by meltwaters trapped between the plateau and the encircling ice. Most of Moose Mountain is wooded with aspen, white birch, balsam poplar and green ash. Designated as a forest reserve under the Forest Reserves Act of 1906, its woods were exploited under the principles of “scientific forestry” and today it is one of only two Provincial Forests south of the Qu’Appelle River. As a wooded island in a prairie ecosystem, Moose Mountain hosts many bird and animal species more commonly found in the eastern deciduous forest or northern mixed-wood forests. It also has a number of rare plant species. The same environment that attracted woodland fauna also appealed to First Nations people, who built a large medicine wheel on the plateau. The White Bear Reserve was established in the southeast corner of Moose Mountain under Treaty 4. Euro-Canadian settlers from the surrounding plains also utilized its natural resources for fuel, construction materials, hay and pasture.

Much of the area is now part of Moose Mountain Provincial Park, one of five original Provincial Parks designated by the province in 1931. However, as far back as the 1880s settlers from the surrounding areas would come to Moose Mountain for recreation. Kenosee Lake, on the eastern side of the park, is the core area for recreational activities that include fishing, water sports, and hiking. This shallow lake, fed mainly by groundwater, fluctuates considerably in depth. South of the park boundary the area around White Bear Lake, in the White Bear Indian Reserve, has also been developed for more profit-oriented recreational ventures including a resort village, casino and golf course. Its proximity to Regina makes the park a favourite destination, and it is one of the most heavily used of all provincial parks. Named for wildlife sometimes found in the area, the “mountain” designation is clearly an exaggeration for this area of low hills rising above the Saskatchewan Plain.

Marilyn Lewry

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Further Reading

Sauchyn, D. 1988. “Field Trip Guide to the Moose Mountain Area.” In A. Paul and R.W. Widdis (eds.), Regina Geographical Paper. No. 5: The Moose Mountain Papers. Regina: Department of Geography, University of Regina.
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