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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

The Dream That Became A Provincial Park

Melvin Hill, who owned a hardware store in Vermilion, had a dream. He wanted to see a provincial park established in the Vermilion area.

Hill had been working as the hardware dealer for the town since 1930 and over the course of the years, he worked hard to make sure residents of the community had somewhere to go to enjoy nature.

After a concrete dam was built that penned in the waters of the Vermilion River, a lake began to form. That lake became a popular place for people to visit in the summer, especially on hot days. The lake that was formed by the damming was 6.3 kilometres long.

The lake was visited by many of the 50,000 people who lived in the area around Vermilion by the 1950s and Melvin Hill wanted to preserve that area for future generations.

On warm afternoons, as many as 400 people were coming out to bathe in the cool waters of the lake in the 1950s, with another 35 boats on the water. Fishing was also growing in popularity on the lake with jackfish the fish many were catching.

In the early-1950s, work began to construct the park and provide it with facilities that people could use including a proper boat launch, playground facilities, camping facilities and bathrooms.

On May 29, 1953, this park was established as the newest provincial park in Alberta. It was the seventh park integrated into the Alberta Parks System.

To reward him for his work in getting the park established, Melvin Hill was made chairman of the park’s advisory board.

That park has also gone on to make some history. It was there that Beckie Scott began skiing on the trails. She went on to win a gold medal in the 2002 Olympics in cross-country skiing, and a silver at the 2006 Olympics in team sprint.

Eventually, the CNR station was moved into the park, along with an old CNR caboose.

Sharing Canadian history through social media, history columns and on my podcast is what I do for a living. Please consider supporting that by donating at

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