Barrier Lake Field Station | Archives and Special Collections

Barrier Lake Field Station – Archives and Special Collections

Barrier Lake Field Station Built History

Construction start: March 1966

Construction end: January 1967

Size: 2,746 m²

Cost: $178,574

Design: Department of Public Works

Occupancy over time: Biogeoscience Institute

In August 1965, the University of Alberta’s Board of Governors reviewed tentative plans “for a proposed Biological Station at Kananaskis, on a proposed 7-acre site of a former prisoner of war camp which has now been converted to a forestry station.”   The Department of Public Works designed the original lodge and lab building with “a rustic motif”; Bird Construction completed the contract in 1967 for $178,574.  Two trailers for accommodations were added in 1968; in 1969, further planning was underway for ten 2-person residences, some with cooking facilities, designed for year-round use, at a cost of $32,000 plus $26,000 for extending the utilities.

Living and studying at the site were not without their challenges.  In June 1970, the Director noted that: “hunters take delicate instruments home as souvenirs, horses…trample the vegetation, and last winter an entire troop of Boy Scouts was barely prevented from setting up camp in the middle of the aspens, complete with trucks and snowmobiles.” In November, 1973, the Director sent a tongue-in-cheek memo about the abnormally cold temperature in his office, “requesting” a free-standing fireplace and that the buildings and grounds department hire a fire-tender willing to work overtime on evenings and weekends during the winter.

In 2017/18, the main lodge and lab building underwent a major renovation project, apparently the first building activity on the site since the 1970s.   Research conducted at the station includes biodiversity, animal ecology, vegetation dynamics and forestry, and conservation.

For more information on the site’s previous history as a prisoner of war camp, see:

http://hikingwithbarry.com/2011/06/05/colonels-cabin-kananaskis-country-hiking-alberta

http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=9017

https://myrockymountainwindow.com/2012/08/12/camp-kan-a-nazi/

http://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/pows-reunion-at-camp-130

http://www.outdoorescapade.com/attraction/colonel-s-cabin-history-loop

https://hermis.alberta.ca/ARHP/Details.aspx?DeptID=1&ObjectID=4665-0017

Living and studying at the site were not without their challenges... “hunters take delicate instruments home as souvenirs, horses…trample the vegetation..."

Director, Biological Station at Kananaskis (1970)