Historic Sites of Manitoba: Glacial Lake Agassiz Plaque (Arden, Municipality of Glenella-Lansdowne)
A plaque has been erected by the Manitoba Heritage Council along the Upper Campbell Beach, a former shoreline of glacial Lake Agassiz passing through the community of Arden in the Rural Municipality of Lansdowne. The Upper Campbell is the largest beach of Lake Agassiz, and the Arden Ridge is the largest prominent part of that beach.
Glacial Lake Agassiz was formed about 10,600 years ago from the meltwaters of a massive ice sheet that once covered much of Manitoba. At its maximum, the lake was the largest on the continent, covering more than 1,000,000 square kilometers of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, North Dakota, and Minnesota. During its 4,500-year history, Lake Agassiz rose and fell several times with advances and retreats of the glacier and the opening and closing of various drainage channels. Whenever the lake stabilized for a time, waves created low cliffs and beach ridges which are still visible on today’s landscape.
These post-glacial beaches figured prominently in the lives of Manitoba’s Aboriginal peoples. Elevated and well-drained, these landforms served as campsites, lookouts for sighting game, burial grounds, travel routes between seasonal camps, and sources of stone to fashion tools. Glacial Lake Agassiz played a central role in the shaping of Manitoba’s topography and human history.
Also at this site is a sign commemorating the former Fort Ellice Trail. For most of the 19th century, the Canadian grasslands were criss-crossed with thousands of miles of connecting trails. These were largely created by Red River cart brigades, travelling between fur-trading posts and bison hunting grounds. One of the major trails wound its way from the Red River Settlement to Fort Edmonton, some 900 miles (1,500 kilometers) to the northwest. This major trail was known by names that reflected its final destination, such as Fort Ellice, Fort Carlton, Fort Edmonton, and Fort Saskatchewan. Natives, traders, hunters, missionaries, Mounted Police, surveyors, and settlers used this route.
Just north of this point, the Fort Ellice trail turned westward, leaving a high natural trail that followed the escarpment formed by the western beach of ancient Lake Agassiz. This sand-and-gravel ridge provided easy access to the Dauphin region. This ridge route has been known as the Old Dauphin Trail, Beautiful Plains Ridge (1873), Indian Ridge Pitching Track, Burrows Track, and Burrows Colonization Road (1891). Presently, it is known as the Arden Ridge.
Photos & Coordinates
We thank Rose Kuzina for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 9 August 2021