“Enjoying the lake breezes”: Excursions, Tourism, and Dwelling in Resort Landscapes at Cooking Lake, 1894-1938

  • Author / Creator
    Bell, Linnea Mae
  • This study explores the history of excursions, tourism, and resorts at Cooking Lake from 1894 to 1938. Cooking Lake was considered Edmonton’s favourite resort for summer recreation and tourism in the early 1900s, yet its recreational landscape history is largely obscure. Analysis centres the questions: why was Cooking Lake the site chosen for these activities and what drew people back to the lake for repeated visitation? The thesis addresses these questions related to private and public views of the landscape. I argue that recreation and leisure on Cooking Lake allowed individuals to feel connected to the place and to each other, encouraging them to dwell in the landscape as a living community of relationships that then formed a land ethic in the Beaver Hills.
    Cooking Lake’s tourism and resort offerings developed to promote excursions for regional visitors. Local business owners, the Grand Trunk Pacific railway, and resort developments facilitated the transformation of the lake into a favourite destination for summer amusement and entertainment. The Koney Island Club initiated early hunting and boating on the lake followed by cottage sales. With families and visitors of various classes spending weekends, holidays, and summers at the lake, Cooking Lake gained a seasonal tourism identity that was influenced by the rise of weekend excursions, train tourism, and a carnivalesque ‘anti-culture.’ These practices were also seen in the expansion of private cottages and subdivision communities where visitors enjoyed the lake and experienced the local leisure and recreational culture. Clubs and camps emerged to provide activities for groups, including the YMCA, military regiments, and Girl Guides, that fostered belonging and further enforced place identity ideals of the lake. The development of the Lakeview resort and dance hall at South Cooking by 1930 was the culmination of a recreational tourism node.
    Archival newspapers provide a basis for engaging with the historic context of Cooking Lake’s popularity. Additionally, the voices and perspectives of visitors to the lake are brought into analysis through the use of archived oral history interview transcripts and popular community histories.
    The interdisciplinary analytical framework of this study incorporates concepts from history, philosophy, and anthropology. The production of place identity and landscape commodification is examined through understandings of place and recreational development. Martin Heidegger, Tim Ingold, and Catherine Palmer’s conceptions of dwelling within a landscape form the theoretical basis for understanding social interaction at Cooking Lake. The study aids in understanding excursions, landscape commodification, tourism nodes, society and communities of resorts, and place identity in a central lake district east of Edmonton, Alberta.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.