Camrose takes pride in our exceptional surroundings and extensive natural outdoor spaces and trails right in the centre of the city. An early objective of the Camrose Urban Parks Committee was to ensure that the urban park development would provide a year-round facility. Mirror Lake is a cultural landscape comprised of an artificial lake and surrounding park area which was created in 1905. The lake was created in 1905 by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as a water reservoir for the steam locomotives passing through Camrose. The lake was also used to supply water for the town-owned coal-fired power plant which began operation in 1911. Between 1929 and 1958 Mirror Lake provided the town with water that was previously supplied by wells.
The Bill Fowler Visitor Information Centre was built in the heart of the park, adjacent to Mirror Lake which was already the site of numerous summer and winter activities. The area contains a children’s playground surrounded by several picnic tables, washroom facilities, a seasonal ice cream castle, and is the starting point of the paved walking trail (3 km) around the lake. The park is always full of people of all ages busy enjoying themselves in all kinds of weather. Distance of the Mirror Lake Loop 2.2 km; Walking time 32 minutes.
Bill Fowler Visitor Information Centre:
Early in the planning of the urban park, the Chamber of Commerce became a partner of the city in the planning and development of the Bill Fowler Visitor Information Centre. The facility houses a series of interpretive panels outlining features of the urban park and some historical highlights of the city.
The Red Brick Wall – Bill Fowler Nature Mural
The brick wall sculpture attached to the centre is a masterpiece by Jim Marshall, and depicts the plants and wildlife native to this area. It is constructed from a special over sized clay red brick developed specifically for this project. The Mirror Lake Red brick was constructed and then carved in Medicine Hat Alberta, trucked to Camrose and then reassembled on site. This outstanding example of artistic carving of the nature mural shows off the skill necessary for tooling the mortar joints to suit the carving. Washroom facilities inside.
Inside the Visitor Information Centre, a Viking Longship sits as the centrepiece. It is a replica of the well-known longship which carried the Vikings on their raids, and bore Lief Eriksson to North America in about the year 1000. A gift to the City from the Augustana University College (now University of Alberta Augustana Campus), the vessel was built in celebration of the school’s 75th anniversary in 1985. Scandinavians settled the district just after the turn of the century, and founded Augustana in Camrose in 1910.
The replica measures 27 feet x 7 feet is slightly less than half the size of a real longship. The keep section is made of oak, the gunwales are pine, the ribs are fir, and the benches are spruce. In crafting the ship, Straumsnes, a master ship builder from Norway, used the same building techniques that the Vikings employed centuries ago. The ship is seen to embody the adventurous pioneer spirit and Scandinavian heritage of both the community and the university.
In 1962, the first swans made their way to Camrose – a pair of graceful Polish Mutes affectionally known as “Hal” and ” Faxi” were donated by the City of Halifax, and made their home on Mirror Lake for many years. Since then we have also added some beautiful Trumpeter Swans and they often gift us with a hatching of baby cygnets, to the delight of local residents and tourist alike. Camrose continues to maintain close relationships with both the Canadian Wildlife Service and Friends of the Elk Island Park Society, and participating in various swan education and conservation initiatives over the past several years. The City of Camrose often assists conservation efforts by welcoming orphan or injured birds to stay snug in our winter facilities.
Swans mate for life and as our cygnets grow into adulthood, teenagers are sought after by other communities looking for mates for their population. Want to know the difference between Polish Mutes and Trumpeters?