Red Willow Park and Riverlot 56 Natural Area in St. Albert

By Dominic Lloyd

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

On June 1 2004, we visited Red Willow Park and Riverlot 56 Natural Area in St. Albert. To get there, go north from Edmonton on the St. Albert Trail. In St. Albert, turn right (east) on Sturgeon Road (just before the bridge across the Sturgeon River). Follow Sturgeon Road untill it meets Sir Winston Churchill Avenue. Turn left and go a short distance to the Kingswood parking area on the left. From the parking lot we walked northeast to Lot 56. It was a beautiful day, sunny and not too hot. No mosquitoes.

On the Sturgeon River at Red Willow Park we saw mallards, blue-winged teal, and lesser scaup (bluebills).

Sturgeon River

Sturgeon River
Sturgeon River

Sturgeon River

Lot 56 is one of the river lots implemented by Father Lacombe in the 1860's. This system is similar to river lot system used along the St. Lawrence in his native Quebec. Running perpendicular to the river, each property had ready access to water for drinking, washing, watering livestock, and transportation. Also, each lot was less than a mile wide, resulting in strong, close-knit communities. Lot 56 was designated a Natural Area in 1982.

Lot 56 Sign

Lot 56 Sign
Trail

Trail

We walked a loop indicated on the top of the map (north of Sturgeon Road). South of Sturgeon Road, Lot 56 is more hilly, and is said to be a good area for bird watching.

White-throated sparrows were singing their "O Canada" song (the first two notes sound like the first two notes of O Canada, with subsequent notes the same as the second note) so that it sounds like "O dear Canada Canada Canada."

In the 1870's, Lot 56 was farmed by William Cust, who was the first person to grow wheat commercially in what is now Alberta.