History greets you at every turn. Use the guide to see our Heritage Moments.
Built as accommodation for Park staff by relief camp workers during the Depression, this log building has experienced several reincarnations. At one time, it housed the offices of the Park wardens and the Information Centre for visitors. Now, the Waskesiu Heritage Museum displays some of its collection in half of it. In the other half, the Friends of the Park organization operates a bookstore and in one room features a replica of the interior of Beaver Lodge, Grey Owl’s cabin on the shores of Ajawaan Lake.
There are a number of outdoor exhibits here also:
Grey Owl was located to PANP by the National Park Service in 1931 in the hope that his message of conservation and the popularity of his books would attract positive publicity for Parks.
Grey Owl shared his waterfront cabin on Ajawaan Lake with his beaver friends, Jellyroll and Rawhide, who constructed a lodge half way into the cabin wall.
His wife Anahareo, who encouraged him to quit the trapping life and work toward beaver conservation, had a cabin higher on the bank.
People traveled to visit Grey Owl and meet his beaver friends and the other wildlife he attracted to his wilderness home. Grey Owl toured extensively on speaking tours to raise awareness of the importance of conserving the natural world long before it was a popular concern.
Controversy surrounds Grey Owl now as he was revealed to be an imposter after his death and, while alive, had a difficult temperament and abused alcohol. Although born an Englishman Archie Belaney, he posed as an aboriginal, adopting the lifestyle of the indigenous people with whom he chose to live.
Visitors still make the pilgrimage to Beaver Lodge on Ajawaan Lake to see the cabin where he wrote his books like Pilgrims of the Wild (1934), The Adventures of Sajo and her Beaver People (1935) and Tales of an Empty Cabin (1936). Graves of both Archie and Anahareo are located here too. The site can only be reached by a forty kilometer round trip hiking trail or boat trip involving several portages.
Included in Waskesiu Memories Vol. II edited by Dorell Taylor is the text of a talk given by Mrs. Margaret Winters Charko. Her family ran a boarding house in Prince Albert where Grey Owl, Anahareo, and daughter Shirley Dawn often stayed. She also lived at Beaver Lodge one summer and typed Grey Owl's manuscript. Inquire at the Museum if you are interested in this delightful, first-person account.
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