Waskasoo Park System

The Waskasoo Park system is widely considered one Red Deer’s most significant assets. The vast trail system and beautiful park nodes inspire residents and visitors alike through all four seasons.

The name Waskasoo Park was given through a vote by City Council in 1911, in honour of the Indigenous history of this land.

History of the area

The community of Red Deer is situated on Treaty 6 (north of the river), Treaty 7 (south of the river) lands and Otipemisiwak Métis Division 3. The area is a significant ancestral territory of the Cree and Blackfoot peoples and recognized as a significant Métis meeting site.

The Indigenous history of this area is recognized throughout the Waskasoo Park system through the naming of some of the park nodes, including McKenzie Trails and Maskepetoon Park.

The McKenzie brothers and their families, who were Métis, arrived in the area in 1882. They operated a lumber mill and built the first trail from Fort Normandeau to the opening of the Blindman River to offer a safer place to cross. They also built the first bridge across the Red Deer River. The McKenzie Trails name honours these families and their impact on the foundations of our community.

Maskepetoon Park is named for Chief Maskepetoon, a ferocious warrior who became a promotor of peace. Though his early years were marred with violence, he is recognized for his efforts to bring peace to the tribes of Central Alberta.

History of the signage

In 1985, with the intention of visibly recognizing the Indigenous history of this area, a graphic inspired by Chief Maskepetoon’s face was created and applied to the signage throughout the Waskasoo Park system. Now, 40 years later, we know this image does not represent our journey in Truth and Reconciliation and we are working to fix it.

Our journey forward

The City of Red Deer is committed to truth learning and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. We know we need to do better and are working to update our parks signage and imagery in a way that acknowledges the land on which we live and the people who have gathered here for generations.

If you have an idea or suggestion for a solution that honours Indigenous history in the Waskasoo Park System, we invite you to share it with us.