By 1913, the year that Sylvan Lake became a village, Alberta’s most popular beach town was already a summer destination for visitors from across the province. Families owned and rented cottages, sailed in regattas, dove off two 500-foot wooden piers and swooshed down a 16-foot playground slide installed in the shallow waters between. Grab a historical walking map and take a fascinating tour through more than one hundred years of local history.
Pick up a walking map
Visit the Sylvan Lake archives (on the lower level of the municipal building), the beachside tourism booth (at the edge of Centennial Park) or the visitor information centre (4719 50 Ave) to buy your passport and map for $1. Through the brass plaques that tell the town’s history, you’ll rebuild how the summer village looked a whole century ago.
The romantic stone castle
The old stone castle on 50A St is a highlight of the tour. Built by hand by the Archambeaus in about 1905 – newlyweds from France carrying a shadowy tale of royal banishment and the triumph of true love. The couple hand-collected rocks from the lake to build their dream house – in the likeness of her father’s castle in southern France. Over the years, the Archambeaus added a cement house next to the castle (keeping sheep and goats in the castle, as one does), plus a grocery, dining room, dance hall, post office and the community’s first newspaper.
More sweet highlights
Be sure to search for another of the town’s oldest buildings, the stone house on 46 Ave and the town’s first gas station, the Balmore service station and tea room, built on the lakefront in 1933. Here’s a hint: it’s where Big Moo is now! (Have a double scoop waffle cone for me!) If it’s Friday, wander over to the farmer’s market at Railway Promenade – which also turns into a busy midway during the town’s annual 1913 Days celebration every June.
Answer the questions along the way and bring your completed passport back to the visitor information centre (4719 50 Ave) to get a free Sylvan Lake branded pedometer.