Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sylvan Lake Historic Buildings

Sylvan Lake CNR Train Station - courtesy Sylvan Lake Archives

I have lived in Alberta my whole life and I can say with certainty that there is no other place in the province like Sylvan Lake. It's more than just the beach, the lake and nice vacation homes. There is a rich history here including a few interesting historic buildings left from the early days of Sylvan Lake. My 2 favourites are the Stone Castle and the Stone House, both are a block or 2 from the lake (a stones throw you could say!).

Stone Castle 
The Stone Castle was built in 1912 by the Archambault brothers, who were part of a group of French settlers to the area. They built the castle by hauling stones from the lake. Raymond Archambault built the castle for his bride Eugenie.  It's said that she was homesick and it was made to resemble a smaller version of her family home in Southern France.   The flat roof was used to keep goats and sheep before a barn was built. The Archambaults didn't live here long and Raymond passed away in 1918 while they were living in Montreal.  It stands empty today but has been lived in and rented out over the years.  A couple of local ladies plant flowers and a wreath has been left on the door.  Here's hoping the current owner doesn't just let it go to ruin. I always said if I win the lottery I'd buy a castle. This would be a like a starter castle, but a castle nonetheless.

Stone House
The Stone House, also built in 1912, is closer to the lake and was originally a residence and then various businesses over the years, but it is currently vacant and for sale. (I'm looking for investors, I think it would make a great tea house/book store!) At one point in 1980 it was condemned due to the old wiring but the family raised the money to have it replaced. I saw inside briefly last year and was glad to see some original woodwork and other details. The narrow steep staircase to the upper floor made me wonder how any furniture ever made it up there. It also has a dirt basement accessible from the back yard.  I spoke to a lady who worked there when it was a spa and she told me that it is haunted. She experienced strange things there that can't be explained.  The rumored spirit is a little girl who drowned years ago in the lake.  When I was there I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, it was just very empty and quiet.

Ozarks Cabin  today
These 2 stone buildings plus Holbrook Cottage, Loiselle House, Ozarks Cabin (the first cabin built), and Dingwalls Boarding House (which is currently Hazzard County Bar & Grill) have been mentioned for historical designation.

Next time you are in Sylvan Lake, take the time to visit these places and to read the plaques along Lakeshore Drive, the path by the lake and various other places around town. They have a wealth of historical information and photos from the archives, My kinda thing....I'll even show you around and finish the tour with a drink at the old Dingwalls Boarding House. Cheers!

Stone Castle and Holbrook Cottage - Sylvan Lake Archives

Courtesy of the Sylvan Lake Archives
Dingwalls Boarding House, now Hazzard County Bar & Grill

Special thanks to the Sylvan Lake Archives who answered my questions and provided me with photos and information.  Oh to have seen some of these places..especially the Dance Halls!
Cool photos and more history can be found through these links:

January 9th, 2016 **UPDATE**
The Stone House is now home to a new business called Crafted for the Home.  They sell art and craft items from local vendors.  Yours truly might have something in store soon! Stay tuned!


  1. Very interesting blog, Jenn. Noticed in today's Sylvan Lake News that the Stone House on 46th Street has been sold and a new business is opening there in January. So nice to see new life in such a historic building.

    1. That's great news....I wonder if it's a tea house lol!

  2. Nice bit of local history. Sylvan Lake is a nice place.

    1. Thanks BW, it's an alright place to live.

  3. The castle is great, but the stone house is even better. I can see it as a tea house / bookstore. Hopefully the new owners will have sense enough to do something like that with the building.

    1. I am curious to see what the new owners are going to do with it...will let you know!