La Colle Falls tour project flows

Joshua Pagé
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A project intended to revive the story of La Colle Falls and parts of the North Saskatchewan River is flowing rapidly. In May, hydraulic archeology surveyor Paul Van Pul of Saskatoon addressed Prince Albert city council with the intent of creating some kind of historic site at the failed power project that died in 1913.

La Colle Falls tour project flows

Since then, the revival project has taken off.



Prince Albert Tourism executive-director Debbie Honch, one of the project's co-ordinators, said she felt confident a $300,000 federal government grant would come through shortly for the project.

"The intent is it would be a guided tour that would go by either voyageur canoe or by pontoon boot - or maybe both - starting (in Prince Albert), going down river and ending down at La Colle Falls and then coming back by bus," she said.

Archeological maps show about 40 to 50 sites of historical interest along that stretch of river, she noted, so there would be many site options from which to choose the remaining stops.

The tour would encompass about five stops, according to Honch. Each spot would have an information kiosk and possibly a few services, like a bathroom. Wilderness camping might also be a possibility, she added.

Partners - like SIAST students led by Hamilton Greenwood, the natural resources technology department head - would be key to the project's archeological dig requirements, said Honch.

Director of public works Colin Innes is involved in the project, as well, and said that to his understanding, the city still had its name on property on both sides of the river at the site.

Honch said co-ordinators also worked closely with director of community services Greg Zeeben.

As soon as the large $300,000 grant comes through, some cash would go to Van Pul's trip to Ottawa to research the Dominion Government's role in the La Colle Falls story.

Under the community adjustment fund that provides the funding, applicants have only until the end of summer 2011 to complete their project, so Honch noted the team had to move quickly.

"Then in the spring ... I imagine we would try and do simultaneous digs at each of those (five) sites to kind of uncover the important stories there, then put up the kiosks and do the site preparations through the rest of the summer and the summer following," she said.

The project's potential doesn't end there.

Honch has a meeting scheduled shortly with parties that are historically developing the South Saskatchewan River to see if the tour could be extended to head south.

"If we could take the South Saskatchewan River all the way along to Batoche, do some kind of overland excursion from Batoche to Fort Carlton, and then connect again on the north side, we would have a beautiful circle," she said.

The historical value of the boat tour could become an international attraction, according to Honch.

Once set up, the project would rely heavily on tour revenue to survive. Honch estimated maintenance costs would be minimal.

She said a report should be coming to city council soon.


Organizations: Prince Albert, Dominion Government

Geographic location: La Colle Falls, South Saskatchewan River, Ottawa Fort Carlton

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