To nurture personal growth and promote respect for nature, others, and self through an inclusive, Christian camping experience
HISTORY OF MASKEPETOON
The origin of the Camp dates back to around 1807, and the birth of a cree boy who would eventually become Chief Maskepetoon. Supposedly abandoned by his birth parents, Maskepetoon was found and raised by a childless couple. They named him Maskepetoon, which means ‘Broken Arm’ because when he was found, his arm was broken.
Maskepetoon was well-respected by his people for his skill as a warrior and his success in negotiating a number of peace treaties with the Blackfoot and Peigan. Maskepetoon also understood that the world of the western prairies was rapidly changing with the arrival of Europeans. To help his people continue to thrive, Maskepetoon formed a number of close friendships with influential missionaries in the area including Rev. Thomas Woolsey and Reverend Robert Rundle. He believed that these missionaries presented an opportunity for education for his people. With a group of missionaries and explorers, he travelled to the west coast of Canada and the United States.
Maskepetoon died around 1869 when he entered a Blackfoot camp, unarmed, in order to negotiate a peace treaty and was attacked by the Blackfoot. His people saw his death as the actions of a great warrior, while the Methodist missionaries held him up as an example of a Christian martyr.
Maskepetoon’s legacy continues today. Professor and University Founder Grant MacEwan once wrote of Maskepetoon that he was the “Ghandi of the Prairies.” Internationally renowned artist, George Littlechild has also used Maskepetoon as a subject for his paintings.
In addition to our camp, Maskepetoon is also the name of a park in Edmonton and a nature preserve in Red Deer.
The History of Camp Maskepetoon is somewhat more recent. In 1956, a group of United Church people purchased a tract of Land for $10,000. This they named the “Pigeon Lake Youth Camp.” The first summer that camp was open, campers slept in tents and meals were prepared in a large cooking tent. By 1957, the Lodge had been constructed by Hobart A. Dowler, a master log craftsman who owned a production yard on Pigeon Lake. The 11 main cabins followed over the next few years. The size of the property grew with the donation of land from three families whose properties bordered Camp - the Porter family (whose cabin, the basic structure of which was built around 1900, still stands), the Thompson family, and the Smith family. The Thompson family land, which is located just past the current MI tower, once included a cabin similar to Porters where volunteers hung out during the summer. This burnt to the ground in the 1970s.
In addition to new buildings being added, Camp has also undergone a number of important changes. When it first began, Camp ran boys’ weeks and girls’ weeks. It was not until the 1960s that Co-Ed camps were introduced. It was also in the 1960s that Camp Wohelo first began to lease a corner of our property to run their programs. Originally from Fallis, Alberta, Camp Wohelo and Maskepetoon have a long tradition of friendly and neighbourly rivalry.
There are so many interesting areas of Camp to explore and discover. Did you know, for example, that we have an oil well on site? Or a beaver pond? Did you know that a dry creek bed snakes its way through the eastern part of camp, and that sometimes in the late spring it actually flows? Have you ever seen the source of the creek that runs through the main part of Camp? Have you spotted the dozens of species of birds and animals that make their home at Camp? Make it your mission this summer to find out something new about Camp that you never knew before.
Thanks for being part of our continuing story.