Beauvais Lake

Basic Info
Map Sheets82G/8
Lat / Long49.4166667, -114.1000000
49°25'N, 114°5'W
Area0.89 km2
Max depth10.7 m
Mean depth4.3 m
Dr. Basin Area7.09 km2
Dam, WeirWeir
Drainage BasinOldman River Basin
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishRainbow Trout, Brown Trout
Trophic StatusMesotrophic
TP x28 µg/L
CHLORO x10.9 µg/L
TDS x156 mg/L
Photo credit: Alberta Recreation and Parks


Beauvais Lake is a picturesque lake located about 24 km southwest of the town of Pincher Creek in the Municipal District of Pincher Creek. The view from the lake is of rolling hills covered with a mosaic of spruce, pine, Douglas fir and trembling aspen forests and open grassy slopes. The area is dramatically backed by the snowcapped Rocky Mountains. To reach Beauvais Lake from Pincher Creek, take Secondary Road 507 west for 9 km, then follow Secondary Road 775 south for 8 km to Beauvais Lake Provincial Park (FIGURE 1).

Beauvais Lake was named for Remi Beauvais, who arrived from Oregon in 1882 to homestead and raise race horses in the area. His cabin still stands 2.4 km southeast of the park boundary. An anglicized form of the name, "Bovey Lake", appears on maps as recent as 1942 (Pincher Cr. Hist. Soc. 1974; Finlay and Finlay 1987). The land now within the provincial park was homesteaded between 1898 and 1909; the hills were used for grazing cattle and the lake was used for watering stock. Even then, the north shore was a favourite picnic spot. By 1940, a conflict between cattle use and recreational use led to the reservation of 62 ha on the north shore for a provincial park. Between 1940 and 1957, more land was acquired, and in 1957, a 158-ha area officially became Beauvais Lake Provincial Park. In 1959, the lake was added to the park; more land was acquired over the years, and in 1989, the park encompassed 593 ha (Alta. Rec. Parks Wild. 1979). A weir was built on the outlet of Beauvais Lake in 1950 to raise the lake level 1.5 m in order to enhance recreation and to store water for release down Chipman Creek in times of drought (Paetz 1967).

Most of the recreational development in the park is at the northwest end of Beauvais Lake. It includes a boat launch, a pier, a campground with 85 sites plus 10 walk-in tent sites, tap water, public telephones, a children's playground, picnic areas, interpretive programs and a network of hiking trails. A group camping area is located west of the campground and is available by reservation only, and there are day-use areas on the west and north shores (FIGURE 2). Approximately 45 private cottages are situated on the north shore. Boat travel is restricted to 12 km/hour on the entire lake (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988).

Beauvais Lake has clear water most of the summer but algae colours the water a murky green by mid-August. Aquatic plants are abundant in the shallow bays by midsummer. Beauvais Lake is actively managed by Fish and Wildlife Division as an excellent summer and winter fishery for rainbow and brown trout. Provincial sport fishing regulations apply to the lake, and the use of bait fish is not permitted (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989). The drainage basin supports a very diverse community of plants, birds and wildlife.

Drainage Basin Characteristics

Beauvais Lake is in the Montane Ecoregion, a small area in the abrupt transition zone from prairie grassland to subalpine forests. The Montane Ecoregion is typified by Douglas fir. North-facing slopes are dominated by spruce interspersed with pine, Douglas fir and trembling aspen. South-facing slopes are open grasslands with pockets of trembling aspen and Douglas fir. Approximately half of the drainage basin is in the provincial park and the rest is leased for grazing (FIGURE 1).

The watershed is characterized by rolling foothills. Surface elevations range from 1,368 m along the lakeshore to 1,676 m at the southwestern corner. Distinctive linear ridges in the watershed were formed by the thrusting of Lower Cretaceous sandstones over Upper Cretaceous shales. Beauvais Lake occupies one of the depressions between two such ridges; its southwestern shore parallels a thrust fault that extends well beyond the park boundary. The crest of the ridge that parallels the northern shore is made of the youngest rocks in the park, Cretaceous-age sandstones of the Belly River Formation (Finlay and Finlay 1987). Soils within the provincial park were mapped in 1974 (Greenlee 1974). The open grasslands and some of the open aspen areas are underlain by Dark Gray Chernozemics, whereas the coniferous forests are underlain by Luvisols and Brunisols.

Lake Basin Characteristics

The Beauvais Lake drainage basin is about 8 times greater in area than the lake (Tables 1, 2). The lake is 3.1 km long and has a maximum width of 0.6 km. The southeastern arm is shallow-the deep part of the lake is at the northwestern end where the basin slopes gradually to the lake's maximum depth of 10.7 m (FIGURE 2). A small gravel beach at the northwest end of the lake extends a few metres into the lake. Aquatic macrophytes grow to a depth of 3.5 m (MacNeill 1979); approximately 18% of the lake is less than this depth (FIGURE 3).

Beauvais Lake is fed by two small intermittent streams, but most of the inflow is diffuse surficial runoff and precipitation. The outflow is Chipman Creek, which leaves at the southeast end of the lake. The weir built in 1950, which raised the lake level 1.5 m, was rebuilt in 1986 with no change to the full supply level (TABLE 2). The outflow from the lake flows through a steele culvert with a control gate, but there is no outflow when the lake level is below 1,365.5 m. The water level of the lake is reasonably stable, varyinig 0.5 m or less in most years (FIGURE 4). The water level was dropped in 1981 to facilitate sucker control by Fish and Wildlife Division, and was dropped again in 1985/86 to facilitate rebuilding the weir.

Water Quality

The water quality of Beauvais Lake has been monitored several times a year since 1984 under a joint program between Alberta Environment and Alberta Recreation and Parks (Alta. Envir. n.d.[b]).

Beauvais Lake is a well-buffered, freshwater lake; its dominant ions are calcium and bicarbonate (TABLE 3). Although the lake is shallow and in a windy area, it becomes weakly thermally stratified in summer. When stratification occurs, as on 14 August 1986 (FIGURE 5), anoxic conditions develop near the bottom sediments. In winter, dissolved oxygen falls to zero in the deep areas, but concentrations in the upper layers are sufficient to overwinter trout.

The phosphorus concentration in Beauvais Lake is quite stable through the summer (FIGURE 6). Algal growth in August or September may turn the water a murky green colour (Alta. Envir. n.d.[b]). Beauvais Lake has moderate total phosphorus and chlorophyll a concentrations (TABLE 4). It is classified as a mesotrophic lake.

Biological Characteristics


Data on the phytoplankton in Beauvais Lake are not available.

Macrophytes were mapped as part of a lake survey by Fish and Wildlife Division in late June 1978 (MacNeill 1979). Five species of emergent plants and nine species of submergent plants were identified (FIGURE 7). Macrophytes grew to a depth of 3.5 m. Submergent plants in shallow bays, especially in the southeast arm, become a nuisance to boaters by late summer (Fitch 1988).


The zooplankton and benthic invertebrates of Beauvais Lake were sampled by Fish and Wildlife Division in late June 1978 (MacNeill 1979). Zooplankton were collected with a No. 40 Wisconsin-style plankton net. The zooplankton community included rotifers, copepods and cladocerans. The density of 300 organisms/L was high compared to that of other pothole lakes in southern Alberta.

The benthic community was sampled by Ekman dredge from a depth of 10.5 m. Aquatic earthworms (Oligochaeta), which were the dominant group, accounted for 92% of the 24,000 organisms/m2 . The other organisms found were midge larvae (Chironomidae) and phantom midge larvae (Chaoborinae). Shells of clams and snails were also abundant, but no living specimens were found. The total wet weight of organisms was 13.8 g/m2.


Beauvais Lake is actively managed by Fish and Wildlife Division to provide an excellent year-round sport fishery for rainbow trout (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.; Miller 1957; Paetz 1958; MacNeill 1979; R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1985). Eight species of fish are native to Beauvais Lake: white sucker, longnose sucker, fathead minnow, brook stickleback, pearl dace, northern redbelly dace, Iowa darter and spoonhead sculpin. Trout are stocked each year; the species introduced since 1947 include rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout. From 1984 to 1987, an average of 58,000 rainbow trout and 43,000 brown trout were stocked each year (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1984-1987).

By 1958, fishing in Beauvais Lake required an average of 9.2 hours of angling to catch a trout. Test nets set in the lake in 1958 yielded 86% suckers. Consequently, the lake was treated the same year with three applications of Toxaphene to kill suckers. Until 1973, test netting yielded only 1% suckers, but by 1978 the proportion had risen to 66% (MacNeill 1979). A comparison of size-at-age of rainbow trout showed that fish caught in 1978 were much smaller than similar-aged fish caught from 1960 to 1973 (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.). For example, the average length of age 1+ fish had declined from 291 mm to 151 mm, the length of age 2+ fish had declined from 390 mm to 246 mm and the length of age 3+ fish had declined from 467 mm to 272 mm.

In 1981, Beauvais Lake was drawn down and treated with rotenone to kill the suckers. The sucker population, although greatly reduced, was not eliminated. The trout population has responded well, with increased survival and growth. The catch rate during a creel census in 1982 was 0.43 trout per hour, the best rate of all of the stocked lakes in the Southern Region (Bishop 1983).


The Beauvais Lake area supports a very diverse community of plants, birds and animals because of its varied habitats and its location in a rapid transition zone between mountains and prairie (Crack and Danielson 1974; Finlay and Finlay 1987). The 316 species of plants recorded include glacier lilies and three species of rare coral-root orchids. More than 110 species of birds have been sighted, including MacGillivray's Warblers and Western Tanagers. The park is situated along the Pacific flyway and is used as a small staging area for waterfowl. The northwest and southeast ends of the lake provide good nesting habitat for waterfowl. Eight species of amphibians and reptiles have been seen in the area, including northern leopard frogs, spotted frogs and garter snakes. Fourteen species of mammals have been recorded; mule deer are common, white-tailed deer are often seen and beaver inhabit the southeast end of the lake.

J.M. Crosby


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-----. n.d.[b]. Envir. Assess. Div., Envir. Qlty. Monit. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

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Greenlee, G.M. 1974. Soil survey of Beauvais Lake Provincial Park and interpretation for recreational use. Alta. Inst. Pedol. Rep. M-74-11. Alta. Res. Counc., Edmonton.

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Miller, R.B. 1957. Report on a creel census at Beauvais Lake, 1956. Alta. Ld. For., Fish Wild. Div., Edmonton.

Paetz, M.J. 1958. Removal of fish populations by chemical treatment in three Alberta lakes: Beauvais Lake, Michell Lake and Strubel Lake. Alta. Ld. For., Fish Wild. Div. Unpubl. rep., Edmonton.

-----. 1967. The relationship of fingerling rainbow trout stocking to the sport fishery of Beauvais Lake, Alberta. Alta. Ld. For., Fish Wild. Div. Unpubl. rep., Edmonton.

Pincher Creek Historical Society. 1974. Prairie grass to mountain pass: History of the pioneers of the Pincher Creek and District. Pincher Cr. Hist. Soc., Pincher Creek.

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