A Brief History (by Bob Teskey and Darwin Park)
While there have been cottages on Crimson Lake since the early 1930's, it is only relatively recently that Owners have been organized in any meaningful way.
The first cottages were 7 log structures built in 1932 where the public beach is now located. Those were followed by another log cottage on the south side of the Lake, built in 1933 and still in use today. It is now owned by Glen and Shannon Teskey. A couple of other frame cabins were built on the south and west sides of the Lake in the later 1930's.
New development started in the 1950's when the present cottage road was constructed in several stages and lots were opened up by the Province. No purchase price was required from lease holders and the lease payment was $5 or $10 a year. To the extent that there was any local government, it was provided by the Province, which administered the newly formed provincial park.
In those early days there was an "Advisory Committee" that was informally appointed by the Province and which gave advice from time to time with respect to park issues. Bob Teskey remembers his father, Willis being on the Advisory Committee along with Ernest Ross and Eddie Murgatroyd. Part of that group "blazed" the route for the cottage road on the southwest corner of the Lake. For those who wonder about the somewhat erratic route the cottage road follows to this day, that may be the explanation!
For many years, initiatives came as result of bureaucratic decisions - the Lake was unsuccessfully stocked with fish in the 1960's. Sometimes the initiatives were commercial - telephone service was introduced by Alberta Government Telephones (now Telus) in the early 1980's. And, as is always the case, sometimes things happened because a cottage owner took matters into his or her own hands - Bob Teskey polled cottage owners and got enough to agree to hook up for electricity, and as a result Calgary Power (which became TransAlta and then Fortis) introduced power to the cottage area in 1989. In 1997 the Rocky Gas Co-op decided to supply natural gas to the cottage area, and 10 cottagers signed up at a cost of $1900 each.
Crimson Lake has always been a bit of an anomaly, among Alberta's provincial parks. With a couple of minor exceptions, only Crimson and Cypress Hills have cottages. In 1986 the Province announced some major changes in Parks Policy. Further detail followed in 1987 and in April 1987, Darwin Park sent a letter to all cottage owners calling a meeting for the May long weekend to discuss the changes and other issues. The meeting took place in the Buster Creek Hall with over 100 people representing 59 cottages in attendance. The "Group" under the leadership of Darwin Park as Chair sent a letter outlining concerns to the then Minister of Recreation and Parks, Norm Weiss. The concerns were categorized as relating to "the lease agreement", cottage services, and general issues. Other members of the ad hoc committee struck at the 1987 meeting were Ryan Park, Bob Teskey, Gordon Wright, John Bert, Bob Gibson, Dianne Owchar and Joyce Tiffen. This constituted the beginnings of the Crimson Lake Cottage Owners Association.
A second meeting was held on the May long weekend in 1988 (with 55 people representing 42 cottages in attendance) and at that meeting it was decided to form a registered society and to set the annual fee for membership at $10. Gordon Wright drafted the first bylaws of the association.
Since those early days, the annual meeting has always been held on the May long weekend and for most of those years at "The Hearth" in the Campground. Meetings have been held in snow, rain, blazing heat and in some years with ice still on the Lake. Usually it has just been cold! The membership fee has only recently responded to inflation and been raised from $10. A large proportion of the 89 cottage owners have participated in meetings. The Association has always taken the position that it speaks on behalf of all cottage owners whether or not they have paid their fees.
There have been three Presidents of the Association - Darwin Park, who founded the Association and led it through its formative years, Bob Teskey, and most recently, Greg McGrath. Many cottage owners have served as directors and helped in many ways.
Over the years, the Association has represented cottage owners or has taken initiatives in many areas including the following:
The cottages at Crimson Lake have never been formally organized into a "summer village" or other independent municipality. The cottages are formally part of Clearwater County which provides typical municipal services like roads and fire protection. Taxes are paid to the County. Because they are in a provincial park, the cottages are also subject to the oversight of the provincial government - both because of their leases and because of the provincial park. Lease payments are paid to the Province.
The annual meetings of the Association are held on the May long weekend. All cottage owners or persons with an interest in a cottage are welcome and urged to attend.