Hastings Lake

The contents of this online version has not been altered or modified from the original 1990 publication. It is reasonable to assume that much of the data e.g. water levels, camp grounds/boat launches, etc. is out of date. For updated or additional information on any of the lakes in this atlas please go to Environment Alberta's water web site.

Basic Info
Map Sheets83H/7
Lat / Long53.4166667, -112.9166667
53°25'N, 112°55'W
Area8.71 km2
Max depth7.3 m
Mean depth2.4 m
Dr. Basin Area269 km2
Dam, WeirNone
Drainage BasinNorth Saskatchewan River Basin
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchHand/Small Boat
Sport FishYellow Perch
Trophic StatusHyper-Eutrophic
TP x136 µg/L
CHLORO x74.1 µg/L
TDS x605 mg/L
Photo credit: unknown


Hastings Lake, with its natural shoreline and many islands, is a popular lake for boating and bird watching. It is a regionally significant nesting, moulting, staging and migration area for diving ducks, and its islands provide nesting habitat for Canada Geese. The lake is located 40 km east of the city of Edmonton in the County of Strathcona. To reach the north side of the lake from Edmonton, take Highway 14 east to the hamlet of Sherwood Park, then continue east and southeast on Secondary Road 630, locally known as Wye Road. About 3 km southeast of the hamlet of Deville, turn south on Range Road 203 and drive 0.5 km to the lakeshore (FIGURE 1). Access is also available at the end of Range Road 204 on the north shore and in the hamlet of Hastings Lake on the south shore. Small boats or canoes can be hand launched from all three access points, but it would be difficult to back a trailer down into the water. Boats can also be launched at a commercial recreational facility on the north shore at the end of Range Road 205 (FIGURE 2). There are no boating restrictions specific to Hastings Lake, but general federal regulations are in effect (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988).

The Cree name for the lake is a-ka-ka-kwa-tikh, which means "the lake that does not freeze" (Holmgren and Holmgren 1976). Apparently, springs that flow into the lake bottom prevent parts of the lake from icing over in winter (Bowick 1988). In 1884, the lake and its outlet were renamed by J.B. Tyrrell for Tom Hastings, a member of Tyrrell's geological survey party (Holmgren and Holmgren 1976).

The first settlers at Hastings Lake were Jonas Ward and August Gladue, who arrived sometime during the late 1800s (Touchings 1976). A Grand Trunk Railway station was built at the hamlet of Deville, 2.5 km north of the lake, in 1909, and a post office was established there soon after. In 1912, the school district of Deville was created, and a school was built in the hamlet.

By the late 1890s, most of the virgin timber had been removed from the area surrounding Hastings Lake, either by fire or by timber cutting. In 1893, a sawmill operated just south of the lake (Redecop and Gilchrist 1981). In 1899, Alberta's first forest reserve, the Cooking Lake Forest Reserve, was opened. It included all of Hastings Lake's drainage basin as well as land north and south of the drainage basin (Touchings 1976).

Most of the people who use Hastings Lake are local residents, and recreational facilities for visitors are limited. The only campground is Kawtikh Recreational Retreat on the north shore, a commercially operated facility that opened in 1988. There are 40 rustic campsites, a playground, a picnic area and a boat launch (FIGURE 2). A parcel of county land is located on the lakeshore between Range roads 204 and 205, but it has not been developed for recreation. A quarter section of Crown land, east of the county land and immediately west of Range Road 204, was reserved for a natural area in 1974, but as of 1988 it had not been officially designated as such (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1987). The area is used for picnicking, bird watching and wildlife viewing. Grazing is permitted and the land is fenced, but access to the lakeshore is available and small boats can be launched at the end of the range road. The remainder of the shoreland, with the exception of some reserve land within the hamlet of Hastings Lake, is privately owned. West of the hamlet, there is a private camp owned by the Legion of Frontiersmen and a private sailing club, the Cutty Sark Club. Within the hamlet, there is a summer camp operated by the Hastings Lake and Lutheran Bible Camp Association. The most popular recreational activities at Hastings Lake are bird watching, sailing, canoeing, rowing and power boating.

Hastings lake is very fertile. During July and August, blue-green algae often reach bloom proportions. In some years, these blooms have been responsible for poisoning domestic animals and wildlife. The lake is marginal for overwinter fish survival, but yellow perch were stocked from 1982 to 1985, and by 1989, the perch catch rate was reported to be good. As of 1989, there were no plans to continue stocking. There are no sport fishing regulations specific to Hastings Lake, but general provincial limits and regulations apply (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989).

Drainage Basin Characteristics

The drainage basin around Hastings Lake is 31 times larger than the lake (Tables 1, 2). A large portion of the watershed is covered by other lakes, including Cooking, Antler, Halfmoon, McFadden, Sisib and Wanisan, but there is little or no flow between these lakes. When lake levels are sufficiently high, Cooking and Sisib lakes are connected to Hastings Lake by short creeks. As well, a small, unnamed lake north of the northeast basin of Hastings Lake is connected to Hastings Lake by a ditch. Water was last known to flow from Cooking to Hastings Lake during the period from 1952 to about 1957, when the level of Cooking Lake reached an estimated 736.7 m (Stanley Assoc. Eng. Ltd. 1976). When water levels are sufficiently high, the outlet for Hastings Lake, Hastings Creek, flows eastward into Beaverhill Lake. The precise overflow elevations of Cooking and Hastings lakes have not been determined.

The watershed of Hastings Lake is part of the Cooking Lake Moraine. It is characterized by knob and kettle topography, which gives it an undulating to gently rolling appearance (Bowser et al. 1962). Numerous sloughs and peaty depressions are present throughout the area. A large ridge south of the lake rises to an elevation of 785 m above sea level, or about 48 m above the shore of Hastings Lake. The primary soils are Orthic Gray Luvisols that developed on either glacial till or glaciolacustrine material. Secondary soils are Gray Solodized Solonetz that developed on either glaciolacustrine or residual material.

The drainage basin is part of the Boreal Mixedwood Ecoregion. The most common trees on moderately well-drained Gray Luvisols are trembling aspen and balsam poplar. Jack pine grows on rapidly to well-drained Eutric Brunisols, and white spruce is the climax species on imperfectly drained Gray Luvisols and Gleysols. Poorly drained Organics and Gleysols support black spruce and willows, and very poorly drained Organic soils support sedges (Strong and Leggat 1981). A large portion of the drainage basin has been cleared for agriculture and country residential subdivisions (FIGURE 1). Most of the soils northeast and west of Hastings Lake, particularly land surrounding Cooking Lake, have a moderate to high capability for cultivation, grazing and pasture (Alta. Envir. 1977). Directly north and south of Hastings Lake, the soils have a low rating for agriculture. Except for the hamlet of Hastings Lake, most residential development in the watershed has taken place around Cooking, Antler and Halfmoon lakes.

Lake Basin Characteristics

Hastings Lake is a shallow, medium-sized water body that consists of two basins separated by a narrow channel. The smaller, northeast basin is known locally as Little Hastings Lake. The shoreline of the lake is irregular, and there are numerous bays along its length. The lake has more than 20 islands, mostly located in the main basin; their number and size vary with the water level. When the main basin was surveyed in July 1964, its maximum depth was 7.3 m (FIGURE 2). There are no contours available for the northeast basin, but its area and capacity were estimated and included in Figure 3.

Lake levels were recorded from 1919 to 1922, and have been monitored regularly since 1956; as well, levels were estimated for 1939, 1941 and 1949 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[c]; Stanley Assoc. Eng. Ltd. 1976). During the earlier period (1919 to 1922), the highest lake level recorded was 735.56 m in May 1920. The level declined continuously until 1949, when it reached its estimated historic minimum of 733.39 m. By 1956, when regular recording began, the level had risen by an estimated 2.57 m, to 735.96 m (FIGURE 4). The highest water level ever recorded in Hastings Lake was 736.53 m, in July 1965. During the late 1960s and early 1970s the lake level declined again, to the second lowest recorded level of 735.22 m, in April 1971. Precipitation levels were high during 1974, and the lake level rose to 736.27 m in October. Since the mid-1970s, there has been no obvious trend, either upward or downward, in the elevation of Hastings Lake (FIGURE 4). In 1987, the maximum elevation was 736.31 m in September.

In 1973, Alberta Environment responded to concerns about water levels in Hastings Lake and other area lakes by initiating the Cooking Lake Area Study (Alta. Envir. 1977). The study concluded that precipitation had the greatest effect on the elevations of lakes in the moraine, and that changes in evaporation and runoff were also important (Stanley Assoc. Eng. Ltd. 1976; Alta. Envir. 1977). The elevation of Hastings Lake is not available, but long-term precipitation records indicated that, around 1900, area lakes were filled to their greatest recorded capacities. These high lake levels occurred when seasonal precipitation reached the level of a one-in-100-year return period. This event is one that is expected to occur once every 100 years, or 1% of the time (Stanley Assoc. Eng. Ltd. 1976). In 1953, most lake levels in the area reached a peak when seasonal precipitation reached the level of a 1-in-50-year return period, which is expected to occur 2% of the time. Precipitation levels in 1953 were the highest recorded since 1901, and 1953 was followed by three consecutive years of higher than average rainfall. Unlike other area lakes, the level of Hastings Lake did not reach a peak in 1953, but continued to rise until 1957, probably as a result of inflow from Cooking Lake (Stanley Assoc. Eng. Ltd. 1976). Hastings Lake also differed from the other moraine lakes on a long-term basis, because its level in the mid-1970s, after a period of high precipitation in 1974, was similar to that estimated for the turn of the century, whereas the levels of the other area lakes had dropped significantly since 1900. The Cooking Lake Area Study recommended that water level augmentation plans and lake level control structures be considered on an as-needed basis for each of the study lakes (Alta. Envir. 1977). Water importation has not been implemented, and therefore no control structure has been necessary for Hastings Lake, as it rarely overflows.

Water Quality

Water quality in Hastings Lake was studied by researchers with the University of Alberta in 1963 and 1964, from 1974 to 1976, and in 1981 (Prepas n.d.; Kerekes 1965; Kerekes and Nursall 1966; Gallup and Hickman 1975; Schwartz and Gallup 1978; Rasmussen and Gallup 1979; Prepas 1983[a]; Prepas and Trew 1983). The lake was also studied by Alberta Environment from 1971 to 1973 and in 1981 and 1987 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]).

The water is slightly saline, very hard and well-buffered (TABLE 3), and turbidity (4 NTU) and colour (19 mg/L Pt) are low (Prepas and Trew 1983). The dominant ions are bicarbonate, sulphate and sodium.

Hastings Lake is typical of many shallow lakes: it is well mixed throughout most of the open-water season and becomes thermally stratified only during calm periods (FIGURE 5). In June, July and September of 1975, dissolved oxygen concentrations declined to less than 5 mg/L in water overlying the sediments, but the rest of the water column was well oxygenated throughout the open-water period (FIGURE 6). On 18 August 1987, the concentration of dissolved oxygen declined to less than 2.7 mg/L at all depths. Under ice cover in the winter of 1975/76, dissolved oxygen became depleted, until by March 1976, the concentration was less than 1.4 mg/L throughout the water column. Samples taken in January 1987 indicated that dissolved oxygen levels were very similar to those recorded in January 1976 (FIGURE 6).

Hastings Lake is hyper-eutrophic. During the spring and summer of 1981, the chlorophyll a concentration fluctuated between 20 and 66 5g/L until late August, when it rose to 239 5g/L (FIGURE 7). It is likely that this late-summer algal bloom resulted from internal loading of phosphorus. In shallow lakes, phosphorus is frequently released from the deeper sediments during calm periods in summer, and from shallow sediments throughout the summer. The total phosphorus concentration in the euphotic zone of Hastings Lake increased between June and early August in 1981, but no phosphorus data are available for late August when the chlorophyll a level was so extraordinarily high. Average values of chlorophyll a vary greatly among different years. In 1975, the mean chlorophyll a concentration over the open-water period was 54 5g/L (116.96), with a peak value of 108 5g/L. These values are considerably lower than those recorded in 1981 and 1987 (TABLE 4, FIGURE 7).

Biological Characteristics


The phytoplankton community in Hastings Lake was studied by researchers with the University of Alberta from 1963 to 1964 and from 1973 to 1976 (Kerekes 1965; Kerekes and Nursall 1966; Hickman 1978; Hickman and Jenkerson 1978; Jenkerson and Hickman 1983), by a researcher at the University of Zurich, Switzerland in 1978 (Schanz 1982), and by Alberta Environment on 29 September 1983 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]). Algal cell counts indicated that in May 1976, the green alga Chlamydomonas globosa (Chlorophyta) was the dominant species. Blue-green species (Cyanophyta) such as Microcystis aeruginosa, Anabaena circinalis and Oscillatoria sp. were the dominant species during summer, autumn and early winter. They were succeeded by flagellated algae and small chlorococcalean algae (Chlorophyta) under ice cover, and then by flagellates in early spring. On 29 September 1983, 62 algal species were identified and the total phytoplankton biomass was calculated to be 12.45 mg/L. Diatoms, particularly Stephanodiscus niagarae (Bacillariophyta), accounted for 47% of the total biomass, and blue-green algal species, particularly Microcystis aeruginosa and Oscillatoria agardhii, formed 28% of the biomass.

The incidence of toxic populations of blue-green algae (Cyanophyta) was monitored by researchers with the University of Alberta during July and August in 1975, 1976 and 1977 (Carmichael and Gorham 1981). Toxic strains of three species of blue-green algae - Microcystis aeruginosa, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae and Anabaena flos-aquae - are most commonly implicated in poisonings of livestock and wildlife world wide. In Hastings Lake, all three species were detected, but only the toxin from Microcystis aeruginosa was found to be responsible for the toxicity observed during the study. Toxic blooms often do not result in poisoning because they are blown by wind from one side of the lake to the other. Thus, a poisoning could occur at one point on one day, but might not recur there.

Qualitative studies of macrophytes in Hastings Lake were made in 1963 and 1964 and in June 1975 by researchers with the University of Alberta (Kerekes 1965; Kerekes and Nursall 1966; Gallup and Hickman 1975). Seventeen species were identified (TABLE 5), but distribution and abundance were not determined.


The zooplankton community was studied by researchers with the University of Alberta in 1963 and 1964, from November 1974 to July 1976, and on 10 July 1981 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]; Kerekes 1965; Kerekes and Nursall 1966; Gallup and Hickman 1975; Schwartz and Gallup 1978; Prepas 1983[b]). In the study from 1974 to 1976, vertical tows were taken with 76-µm mesh nets. The average biomass for the period from May to October 1975 was 1.4 g/m3 dry weight. This was lower than the biomass in nearby Cooking (6.9 g/m3) and Beaverhill (2.5 g/m3) lakes, which were sampled over a similar period in 1975. In Hastings Lake, biomass decreased between May (1.3 g/m3) and June (0.9 g/m3), increased to a peak in August (2.9 g/m3), then declined steadily until October (0.5 g/m3). The biomass of individual species was not measured, but organisms were counted. Numerically, the most important species were the cladocerans Diaphanosoma leuctenbergianum, Chydorus sphaericus and Daphnia pulicaria; the calanoid copepods Diaptomus siciloides and D. oregonensis; the cyclopoid copepods Diacyclops bicuspidatus thomasi and Acanthocyclops vernalis; and the rotifers Keratella cochlearis, K. quadrata and Pompholyx sp.

Benthic invertebrates in Cooking, Hastings and Ministik lakes were studied by researchers with the University of Alberta in June, July and September 1963 (Kerekes 1965; Kerekes and Nursall 1966). In Hastings Lake, a total of 86 samples were taken with an Ekman dredge at unspecified depths. The average biomass for the survey period was 66.47 g/m2 wet weight (TABLE 6). The greatest biomass (102.15 g/m2) was recorded in September. Chironomids, which formed the largest part of the biomass on all sampling dates, accounted for an average of 93% of the biomass and 86% of the total numbers. The average biomass of benthos in Hastings Lake was much larger than the biomass in nearby Cooking (33.23 g/m2) and Ministik (9.85 g/m2) lakes.


Hastings Lake has a long history of fish stocking. The lake was first stocked with yellow perch in 1925. By the winter of 1930/31, perch were caught in large numbers. Declining water levels during the drought years of the 1930s eventually resulted in serious oxygen depletion throughout the water column during winter. In 1934/35, a severe winterkill decimated the fish population, which probably had included northern pike as well as yellow perch. Between 1935 and 1977, Hastings Lake was stocked 15 times with yellow perch, 5 times with pike, once with walleye, and once with spottail shiners (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.; Zelt and Glasgow 1976). Stocking resumed in 1982, when 10,000 yellow perch were planted, and continued through 1983 (36,000 perch), 1984 (8,900 perch) and 1985 (250 perch). Although the habitat is marginal for overwinter survival, the yellow perch population had survived from 1984 to 1989. In March 1989, anglers reported a good fishery, with perch weights up to 225 g and lengths up to 20 cm. As of 1989, there were no plans to resume stocking (Stenton 1989; Watters 1989).


Wildlife habitat in the Cooking Lake Moraine was evaluated in 1974 by Fish and Wildlife Division and in 1987 by the County of Strathcona (Zelt and Glasgow 1976; Griffiths 1987). Although existing forest cover and other natural features are extensive enough to provide excellent habitat for many species, agriculture and other land uses have reduced the quality of the habitat. The remaining forested areas between Ministik Lake and the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Grazing, Wildlife and Provincial Recreation Area are important as a travel corridor for ungulates and other wildlife. The large block of forested land in the Hastings Lake watershed is, on a regional basis, a key area for white-tailed deer and moose. During the winter of 1974, white-tailed deer were seen frequently on the southern shore of Hastings Lake, and coyotes were observed on the eastern shore. Also in 1974, there were an estimated 102 muskrats and 32 beaver living in the lake.

Waterfowl on Hastings Lake were studied by the Canadian Wildlife Service during 1973 and 1974 (Kemper 1976). Hastings Lake is regionally important as a nesting, moulting, staging and migration area for diving ducks (Strathcona Co. 1987). Ducks that breed on the lake began arriving in mid-April. More than 97% of the ducks at the lake in 1974 were divers and less than 3% were dabblers. Lesser Scaup and White-winged Scoter were the most numerous divers, and Redheads, Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye were seen less frequently. Dabblers included Mallards, Gadwalls, Widgeons, Blue-winged and Green-winged teal, Shovelers and Pintails (Kemper 1976). Duck numbers remained fairly constant from mid-May until August, when they began to increase as many ducks arrived to moult. Peak duck numbers for the fall staging period were significant for the size of the lake. The peak occurred in late September and early October, after which numbers declined until freeze-up.

Canada geese that breed on the lake began arriving in late April in 1974. The number of geese continued to increase throughout late May and June as goslings joined the population. Geese were present in fairly constant numbers from June until the end of September, when the local birds migrated south. Numbers increased again from mid- to late October as migratory flocks passed through. Swans were recorded on Hastings Lake only during the fall of 1973. Other birds that nest on the lake are Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons and American Bitterns. Bald Eagles have been seen on the lake in the fall (Deville-N Cooking L. Hist. Soc. 1982).

M.E. Bradford


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