Camp Chestermere

The first history book about Chestermere and area “Saddles Sleighs and Sadirons”, 1971, Chestermere Historical Society speaks about the early history of the camp. p 388

“In the midst of a barren prairie landscape Chestermere Lake became the home of an eager group of navy cadets in 1937. Prompted by the interest of parents and the enthusiasm of retired Royal Navy Officers Captain Mitchell and Commander Browley, a training camp was set up at the SE end of the lake.  With no government financial help, the parents of these cadets sponsored the camp and the purchase of three boats for naval exercises.  This naval training was supplemented by drill sessions at Mewata Armouries.  During the Second World War the camp was used as a training centre under the sponsorship of the Canadian Navy League, South Alberta District.  However this original group of cadets and the Navy League formed the nucleus of the present day HMCS Tecumseh naval station located in Calgary.  

The last camp was held in 1948.

However in 1947 the Bethel Baptist Church had begun to rent the camp for children’s summer camping.  This arrangement continued until 1955 when the site was purchased by the Gospel Missionary Association.  In the ensuing years this group has built a chapel recreation building and three new cabins.”

This history book can be accessed here: 

According to the present camp director Shannon Dean, the original name of the camp was ‘Undaunted.’ This information was provided by a naval historian in BC.  Chestermere Historical Foundation has been a partner with Camp Chestermere for a number of years, particularly in providing a venue for programing and also storage of artifacts. 

Read more about the more recent history on the Camp Chestermere webpage. https://www.campchestermere.com/history

As Camp Chestermere celebrated its 80th birthday recently, there were a number of articles about Camp Chestermere’s history in the local paper The Chestermere Anchor. 

https://www.theanchor.ca/2018/camp-chestermere-turns-80/

https://www.theanchor.ca/2017/looking-to-the-past/

https://www.theanchor.ca/2018/going-going-but-not-yet-gone-heritage-buildings-in-chestermere/

Calgary Herald 25 July 1941
Ice house used by the Sea Cadet Camp
Camp Chestermere early 1950s
One of the original bunk houses remains from the 1940s
From Chestermere a Home for all Seasons p 273
1943 Cutter Crew photo from c The Naval Museum of Alberta
1942 A march past of Cadets c The Naval museum of Alberta
1946 c The Naval Museum of Alberta.
The morning after the storm. Camp Chestermere. c The Naval Museum of Alberta. No date.

The Western Irrigation District ditch rider house was near the Camp.

( to read more about this see the article on WID Ditchriders) 

The attached article from the Strathmore Standard shows how prairie people are just always there for each other. 

 

January 2021

Thank you to Eileen McElroy for this research done on newspaper articles about the Sea Cadet Camp. 

“The Camp was referred to as “Undaunted” after the name of the Sea Cadets company. Located on land donated by the C.P.R. and first year of operation was 1938. Official opening took place in 1941 and the newspaper article calls it the “Chestermere Lake Patrick Burns Camp” (see photo right). According to newspaper articles, it appears that the last two-week summer camp at Chestermere was held in 1948. However, the Chestermere camp continued to be used for weekend training events in 1949. Other groups began to rent the camp for events, including the Salvation Army which held a camp for under-privileged children there in August 1949. In the early 1950s there is reference to the camp being used by the Liberal party for a picnic and as a site for a Lutheran church conference. The first mention I’ve found so far of a church camp at Chestermere is in March 1956 when the Herald reported that “The Gospel Missionary Association secured the former sea cadet camp site at Lake Chestermere.”

Comments are closed.