Natural History

If a true valley is a lowland between ranges of hills or mountains that protrude above the surrounding elevation, then the Qu'Appelle is less a valley than a great groove set into the level plain.

- Trevor Herriot - River in a Dry Land

The area that is now the Qu'Appelle Valley was created during the last ice age, 14,000 years ago. This time period is called the Quaternary Period, and represents only a very minute amount of the earth's history. While it is such a small time frame, the Quaternary Period was the time period in which most of the present land features in Canada were formed.

The present landscape of the Fort Qu'Appelle area was built entirely of material that was deposited by glaciers during the last ice age. In places these deposits are 273 meters thick. During the Quaternary Period, the province of Saskatchewan was covered on four occasions by glaciers. As each glacier advanced, it eroded the surface, picking up rocks and materials deposited by previous glaciers. It transported these materials over long distances; for example, the erratic boulders found at Stop 1 of the Fort Qu'Appelle Geolog Tour were originally from Manitoba. When the glaciers melted, they produced so much meltwater they eroded the channel of water that eventually became the Qu'Appelle Valley. Each time the glaciers melted, some of the material trapped within the ice was deposited along the earth's surface, forming layers of soil.

After the last glacier melted, the Qu'Appelle Valley was entirely filled with water. As time and gravity had their effects on the landscape the valley was filled in parts with alluvium. The water was divided into four lakes; Pasqua, Echo, Mission and Katepwa. As the land continued to shift, the lakes became shallower as they accumulated alluvium and gravel from the many landslides that have occurred in the area.

When Europeans settled the region in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries they developed the area for habitation, and the landscape changed again. Now in the Qu'Appelle region there are many towns, villages, provincial parks, and farms. Because of the glaciers that created the Qu'Appelle Valley and their subsequent activities, the area is now home to some of the best farmland in Canada, not to mention a wonderful region for recreation. Every summer the population of the area swells with vacationers from every part of the world who come to enjoy what the Qu'Appelle Valley has to offer.

Page last updated on 2004-10-08
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