Discovery Day at Lake Louise

Lake Louise AB
Lake Louise - BVN File Photo

Did you know that the “Discovery Day” of Lake Louise is on August 24th?

For centuries before the European settlement started in North America, Stoney Nakoda and other indigenous groups used different areas all the way through the Rocky Mountains for hunting, fishing, gathering and traditional ceremonies. At that time, before Lake Louise received its famous name, it was called Horâ Juthin Îmne that means “lake of the little fishes” and it was a place that native groups used to visit for centuries.

On August 24th of 1882, the European settler Tom Wilson, with the help of the Stoney guide Edwin Hunter, explored the Horâ Juthin Îmne for the first time. Tom Wilson named it “Emerald Lake”. In 1884, John Campbell, Governor General of Canada (1878-1883) changed the name of the lake from “Emerald Lake” to “Lake Louise” to honor his wife Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. The province of Alberta was named to honor the same princess. Unfortunately, in 1885 Canada restricted the access of indigenous nations to the lake requesting them a travel document authorized by an Indian agent which obviously complicated their access to the lake.

In the last century, reconciliation has been a subject for the Canadian Government and federal institutions like Parks Canada are promoting the recognition and respect of indigenous cultures. Parks Canada said in an email:

“Parks Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that recognizes and honors the contributions of indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationships Indigenous people have with their traditional lands and waters”.

“The agency is committed to ensuring that Indigenous connections to Parks Canada-managed places are honored and groups with historic ties to Banff, Yoho or Kootenay national park have the opportunity to reconnect with their traditional land and waters”.

This year, on August 24th there was a Ceremony organized by Stoney Nakoda First Nations that commemorated the “Discovery Day” of Lake Louise by European settlers. Representatives of Parks Canada, superintendent of Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay attended to the ceremony. There were not representatives of Chateau Lake Louise, but they helped with logistical support for the event.