Summer Village of Burnstick Lake

The Summer Village of Burnstick Lake is 150 kms northwest of Calgary and approximately 50 km northwest of Sundre. Fifty seven cottages make up the summer village that sits on 18 hectars on the north shore of beautiful Burnstick Lake.


Burntstick Lake was established in 1937 by the Provincial Government. Sometime in the 1950's, before there was any development on the lake someone made a typo and the name became Burnstick. Both versions of the name continued to be used which added to the confusion of anyone looking for the lake. In 1988 the Burnstick Lake Cottage Owners'Association wrote to the government asking for the name to be permanently changed to Burnstick to avoid further confusion. This was done in 1991.

In the late 1960's the government put up for lease all lots in Pine and Poplar Close. Numbers were drawn by those attending and in the order of these numbers people were given their choice of lots. The lease charge was $10.00 per year. A building on the lots had to be finished on the outside within a two year period or the lease was lost. There were specific requirements for size, placement and amenities of the structures. In 1970 the government opened up for lease the lots on Spruce and Fir Close, Balsam Crescent and the adjoining lots on Burnstick Drive. In 1973 two of the lots on Balsam Crescent were abandoned by their original lease holders. The government put them up for lease at $50.00 per year. However, they received 42 requests for the lakefront lot and 12 requests for the back lot. They then required that they be "disposed by tender" to the applicant tendering the highest cash bonus. The winners for the lakefront lot bid $1.00 more than six other bidders!!

The leases were Miscellaneous Leases good for 25 years with an annual rental that grew to be $200.00 plus taxes. In order to get a lease you had to be a Canadian citizen, over 18 years old and you could not occupy the building for more than 120 days a year. In 1979 the Burnstick Lake Cottage Owners' Association (BLCOA) petitioned the government to buy the leased lots. Much to everyone's surprise they agreed. They were very fair about the sale price. BLCOA had its own assessor as did the government. Each lot was assessed and ranked according to location, size, slope and terrain. When there was a difference in price they either split the difference or took the lower one. There was a 20% downpayment with 15 annual installments at 6% interest on the declining principal. This was a very good deal. The purchase took place in June 1982.

In 1986 BLCOA was incorporated which helped us greatly when in 1988 Shell and Husky Oil were competing to develop an elephant find of sour gas very close to Burnstick Lake. BLCOA became major intervenors in an ERCB hearing on the development and construction of facilities for the Caroline Sour Gas Development Project proposed by Shell Canada Ltd. and Husky Oil Operation Ltd. Over a two year period the executive of BLCOA spent many hours working through reams of information supplied to them by both companies, attending meetings with both companies, working with consultants and lawyers and then delivering BLCOA's point of view at the resulting hearing. Our theme in a nutshell was the cottage owners chief concern is to maintain the pristine nature of the lake, the purity of the air and the tranquillity of the environment. We managed to have the initial site of the plant moved from south of us where our prevailing winds come from to due east of us. We also were able to get air and water monitors installed and an alarm system located In the Village in case of any fugitive emissions. As a result of the ERCB hearing Shell won the right to develop the sour gas find. They also installed our second water well on the Utility Reserve in Balsam Crescent.

In 1990 TransAlta proposed bringing electricity to Burnstick Lake. The terms were $760.00 plus $2470.00 over a twelve month period. The cost of trenching from the road to each cottage was the responsibility of the cottage owner. They required a minimum of 21 out of the 57 lots for this to go forward. We exceeded their minimum requirement and in September 1991 we were electrified. About this time Telus also informed us that they were moving away from party lines in rural areas to single lines. If we wanted to keep our phone we had to pay $500.00 for the line. In 1993 on our second attempt to get the percentage of cottage owners necessary to apply for Summer Village status we succeeded. As a Summer Village is defined as an incorporated municipality with jurisdiction within its defined boundaries we were finally able to set our own taxes and be responsible for everything within the Village without having to petition the M.D. of Clearwater for everything we wanted. Because of our success in becoming a Summer Village we would now be governed by a Mayor and two Councillors. Therefore, BLCOA was dissolved in May 1993 and all its assets were turned over to the new Summer Village of Burnstick Lake. In 2003 we enjoyed our first community Pancake Breakfast on the August long weekend and this continues to be a well attended event.

In 2006 we all held our breath as a forest fire raged just north of us. It was out of control for several days and swept through 877 hectares of mature timber on Crown Land. Luckily we were able to get the service of many ground personnel as well as water bombers and then the wind turned away from us and the mopping up began.