Pigeon Lake is a lake in central Alberta, Canada that straddles the boundary between Leduc County and the County of Wetaskiwin No. 10. It is located close to Edmonton, Leduc and Wetaskiwin. Communities located along the lakeshore include Pigeon Lake Indian Reserve 138A, ten summer villages (Argentia Beach, Crystal Springs, Golden Days,Grandview, Itaska Beach, Ma-Me-O Beach, Norris Beach, Poplar Bay, Silver Beach and Sundance Beach), and four unincorporated communities (Fisher Home, Mission Beach, Mulhurst Bay and Village at Pigeon Lake). A fifth unincorporated community, Westerose, is located 0.5 km (0.31 mi) to the south of the lake on Highway 13
The lake has a total area of 96.7 km2 (37.3 sq mi) and a maximum depth of 9.1 m (30 ft). It has a catchment area of 187 km2 (72 sq mi), and is an early tributary of the Battle River, to which it is connected through the Pigeon Lake Creek.
Pigeon Lake was previously called "Woodpecker Lake", from Hmi-hmoo (or Ma-Me-O), the Cree word for woodpecker. The name was changed to Pigeon Lake in 1858.
Along the northwest shore of Pigeon Lake is a trail that was travelled by aboriginal people for centuries. An artesian well along the trail offered fresh drinking water for both man and beast. It was this site that the Rev. Robert Rundle chose in 1847 as the location for a mission.
For almost 50 years, missionaries and the Nakoda and Cree people met at this place for worship and in council. They lived through a period of great upheaval and change. After the land was sold and homesteaded in 1906, the mission and its people were largely forgotten, until interest revived in the 1950s. Today Rundle's Mission is recognized as a provincial historic site and a National Historic Monument. Story panels along a self-guiding interpretive trail tell of the people who lived and worked in the area, and the place is once again a meeting place for all.
From geotourismcanada At the northwest shore of Pigeon Lake there rises an artesian well once used for fresh drinking water. It is situated beside a much used trail that was traversed regularly by Cree and Nakoda peoples for centuries. It was in November 1845 that Reverend Rundle passed this way and first encamped on the shore of Pigeon Lake and wrote
‘… Before I slept I went to the beach. What a spectacle. No sound was heard but the rise and splash of the fish in the lake. A slight ripple was all that was discernible on the lake. It lay almost like a sea of molten silver & the stars were reflected on its glassy breast. A mirrored heaven!’
Returning two years later in 1847, Reverend Robert Terrell Rundle decided to build the first Protestant mission in Alberta and an agricultural settlement, which began more as an extensive vegetable and bean garden. Later in his journals he writes on June 12, 1848 ‘… I put beans in ground, Witaskimakan (Susette) helped me…’.
Rundle preached to the Native and immigrant populations and taught improved planting and farming skills. However, his time at Pigeon Lake was short lived and he left in late June 1848 after a broken arm would not heal correctly. While Rundle had hoped to return, unfortunately he never did.
By 1868 the Hudson Bay Company established a trading post on the nearby west shore of Pigeon Lake. And by 1875 it was shut down. Homesteading around the lake was growing but slowly. Small farms continued to dot the surrounding area. Then in 1896 an Indian reserve was settled on the south shore of the lake.
Walleye, yellow perch and northern pike were in abundance and a fishery and fish packing plant were established in the hamlet of Milhurst at the mid-east shore of the lake. The packing plant, Ouimette’s, supplied frozen fish to as far away as New York and Chicago.
A logging operation was set-up by A.J. Rowley in the early 1900’s at the north end of Pigeon Lake. It was from here that they hauled spruce to the Rowley sawmill and the finished lumber to Millet, Alberta. Another logging operation and sawmill was also set up on the south west side of the lake by Messrs Fergusen and Mullen and their crew. In the mid-1920s yet another logging operation would be set-up on the south end of the lake near Mulhurst and the Hobbema Indian Reserve.
The farming, logging and fishing served the homesteaders, Metis and Cree well, providing good livelihoods throughout the seasons, especially as the fish plant was active all year-round along with logging operations. In the early spring a steel sleigh was used to haul lumber over the frozen snow and lake. The livelihood of the region continued to grow into the 21st century, not only to support small-scale logging, farming and sport fishing but to include cattle ranching, buffalo ranching and oil and gas exploration.