Close this search box.
Close this search box.
a picture of Ghost Lake with snow covered mountains and green forest in the background
Ghost Lake Recreations

The Ghosts of Ghost Lake

Some believe a spirit haunts Ghost Lake collecting the skulls of fallen warriors.

There is a story behind every name. In the case of Ghost Lake in Cochrane, there are a few stories tied to its eerie name. The first originates from Alberta’s Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous storytelling recounts a spirit haunting Ghost Lake in search of something. That “something” is the skulls of Blackfoot First Nations that Stoney Nakoda warriors killed during a war between the two nations.

The battlefield for this war is now known as Cochrane. But there might be another ghost prowling Ghost Lake—that of Reverend George McDougall.

McDougall was born in 1821 in Kingston, Ontario. He was an early missionary that played an essential part in the development of Alberta.

From the early 1860s to 1876, McDougall mainly operated out of Alberta as a Methodist missionary. In case you didn’t know, Methodists were a branch of Protestant Christianity.

McDougall was best known for his work in Victoria, Morleyville, Whitefish Lake, Pigeon Lake, and Fort Edmonton. More importantly, he supported Alberta’s First Nations and was responsible for pioneering some of Alberta’s earliest settlements.

But things turned for the worse in 1876 at the Morleyville settlement. At the time, food supplies were running low. McDougall set out with a small hunting party to secure food for the settlement.

Their prey was a herd of buffalo that were heading westward. Included in the hunting party was McDougall’s son, John. Together, McDougall and his son killed several buffalo.

But McDougall decided to head back to the settlement before the rest of the party. That was the last time John ever saw his father. When the settlement realized he was missing, they formed a search party.

But the search was delayed by a horrible snowstorm. Days later, when McDougall was found, he was a human popsicle.

Many think McDougall suffered a heart attack upon returning to the settlement. Maybe hunting buffalo was a bit too much excitement for him.

McDougall’s body was taken to Morleyville, where he was buried.

But was Revered George McDougall really the saint he was made out to be?

Some believe he haunts Ghost Lake looking for something, but what?

Next time you’re in Ghost Lake, you might get the chance to ask him yourself.

What was once a battlefield for the Stoney Nakoda and Blackfoot First Nations is now a popular recreation spot in Alberta for hiking, climbing, camping, and sailing.

Share this story

Stories in your Inbox, daily or weekly

Choose the types of stories you receive.

Related Stories