This historic property is a rare privately owned property in the middle of a major wilderness area worldwide: Southern Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, the largest park in British Columbia with almost 1 million hectares!
The property is world famous for being the place where Trumpeter Swans were brought back from the brink of extinction by a pioneer and his family. It is also a critical migration corridor for salmon, grizzly bears, and other wildlife.
Given its history and diverse ecological values in the heart of southern Tweedsmuir Park, our goal is to acquire and permanently protect this property to make it an integral part of this incredibly large, pristine wilderness area.
We have signed a purchase and sale agreement and have until May 1, 2021 to secure the financing. If we are unable to raise the funds to buy this property, it will be sold privately.
Trumpeter Swan, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
The secluded lake is 69 km southeast of Bella Coola, BC. It is located in the vast Atnarko Kliniklini trench system that runs south from the Bella Coola Valley across the Atnarko River system into the Kliniklini Valley – and flanks Mt. Waddington – to eventually reach the head of Knight Inlet. This incredible land formation is so large that it can be seen from space.
Lonesome Lake is located below Hunlen Falls, a 260 meter high waterfall with one of the tallest uninterrupted drops in Canada.
THE LONELY LAKE CRUISE
In 1913, a young man named Ralph Edwards was granted 153 acres of land on Lonesome Lake under a state homesteading program about 40 miles from the nearest human settlement.
Ralph spent the next decade working the land and building a house alone, rarely leaving Lonesome Lake. After serving in World War I, he returned to Lonesome Lake, married a local girl and had three children. The Edwards family became famous for their pioneering self-sufficiency and DIY ethics.
Achievements included not only making their own shoes and spinning wool into clothing, but also a water-powered sawmill and even a river-powered electric generator.
In 1925, the Canadian government hired Edwards’ aid to feed the local Trumpeter Swan population during the winter. Decades of overhunting meant that this species was critically endangered. Ralph and his family worked tirelessly to ensure that the feed supplement reached the birds and that the population grew steadily in the years that followed.
During Elizabeth II’s tour of Canada in 1951, she was promised a Dominion gift from Trumpeter Swans. The only swans tame enough to be caught were the ones on Lonesome Lake, as they had been fed for decades. In 1952, with the help of Ralph and his daughter Trudy, five were captured and flown to England.
As Edwards’ farm and family flourished, news of his accomplishments spread and in 1957 his biography Crusoe of Lonesome Lake was published. Shortly thereafter, an appearance in the Christmas edition of This Is Your Life followed. Ralph died in 1977 at the age of 86 and the property remains in his family.
We’re enjoying Trumpeter Swans today because of Lonesome Lake and the Edwards family. Without wild places and people to take care of them, species are critically endangered.
Because of its location on the Trans-Coast Mountain Hiking Route, Lonesome Lake has long had important aquatic bird populations, particularly the impressively large Trumpeter Swans – males that average over 26 pounds, making them North America’s heaviest flying bird.
In the early 1930s and 40s, Trumpeter Swans nearly died out due to excessive hunting in the United States and Canada. At one point in time, it was estimated that only about 100 Trumpeter Swans were left in the world, and about 1/3 of them wintered on Lonesome Lake and fed on the ice-free areas of the rivers. Thanks to Ralph’s efforts, the population grew steadily over the years, reaching 600 in the 1960s.
Due to the legendary and internationally renowned efforts of Ralph Edwards, these majestic great white birds were saved from extinction. For this reason alone, this property is of international importance for nature conservation, especially in the North American wildlife community. However, with this property, which is now available for commercial purchase, the future of the swans is once again at risk.
We believe that protecting this website will allow swans to continue to use their habitat undisturbed. It will also enable globally significant scientific field research on a range of environmental, fish, wildlife and climate topics. It has supported this type of research regarding Trumpeter Swans in the past.
SALMON SPAWNING WEBSITE
The Atnarko River is the main tributary of the Bella Coola River. As a result, Lonesome Lake is an important spawning site for premium sockeye salmon and trophy-sized steelhead trout. These fish serve as a food source and attractant for the exceptional grizzly bear populations in the Bella Coola / Atnarko region.
MIGRATORY CORRIDOR FOR GRIZZLY BEARS
The Atnarko Kliniklini Trench is the primary migratory corridor for grizzly bears, elk, and 140 migratory bird species that penetrate and traverse British Columbia’s dramatic southern coastal mountains from inland to sea and back.
OLD GROWTH FOREST
The Atnarko-Kliniklini-Graben and the lonely lake support the old growth of the Douglas fir forests. This is the largest intact old growth area of this dry forest type that has remained in the BC – Interior Douglas Fir Zone ecosystem.
Because of the extent of deforestation that has occurred in the interior Douglas fir forests throughout southern interior BC, the interior Douglas fir zone is the most endangered inland forest in British Columbia.
Since the Atnarko Kliniklini trench at Bella Coola (in the northwest) and Knight Inlet in the south is connected to the Pacific, the ecosystems of the lowland forest along this trench are graduated from wet to dry and then back to wet.
The lonely lake is located in the driest part of this forest gradation. This makes this valley and the subject of private property of exceptional ecological value.
We believe the world will be inspired by the next chapter in this incredible story. While humans have done great harm to our environment and other species, we are able to revive and protect them.
Just as Ralph Edwards and his family threatened the swans with extinction, your involvement in this story can inspire people around the world to bring back local wildlife populations and protect their habitats forever.
Questions about this campaign?
Telephone – 604 343 3975 extension 1
Email – [email protected]