The gate lies open to Gottlob Schmidt’s property which officially became Antelope Hill Provincial Park, Alberta’s 76th provincial park, in March. Beth Causley
The 380 hectare homestead that Gottlob Schmidt had lived on since 1933 was donated by him to the province of Alberta last year and in December of 2014 was announced as Alberta’s 76th provincial park.
Schmidt donated the land near Hanna, now known as Antelope Hill Provincial Park and will be receiving the Alberta Order of the Bighorn Award for his generous donation to all Albertans.
The ceremony took place on March 6 at the Government House and Royal Alberta Museums in Edmonton where Schmidt along with five other Albertans will receive the award.
The Government of Alberta established the Order of the Bighorn awards in 1982 to officially recognize the passionate contributions of Albertans to conserve fish and wildlife and celebrates the voluntary efforts to do that.
The award also serves to recognize the importance of ongoing stewardship of these resources.
A majestic landscape with rolling hills, Antelope Hill Provincial Park is home to species found only in the grasslands of North America like the thirteen lined ground squirrel and is also home to deer, antelope, elk, wolves and other small animals.
It’s proximity to Dowling Lake, which is an important bird area, makes it an ideal home for a variety of ducks and birds.
Antelope Hill has high ecological value because it has never been cultivated.
Cacti, green needle grasses and a variety of fescue grow there and the low lying wetlands support willow , sedges, cattails and rushes.
The land is an unbroken rangeland and the park will be managed for wildlife purposes and low-impact use such as hiking. There won’t be any trails developed and the land will be left open for visitors to roam.
A 15 car parking lot with a washroom are the only things that will be developed in the park.
Hunting, overnight camping and off-highway vehicle use (ATVs) will not be permitted in the park.
The park is not yet open to the public and won’t be until after Schmidt’s death. Since the land is now officially a park Gerry Bennett, Alberta Parks District Team Leader based in Stettler, posted the brand new Alberta Parks signs which mark the Park boundaries and state that the park is closed and public access is prohibited.
Bennett also told the ECA Review that a plaque is being made for the entrance to the park but said he couldn’t say what the plaque said.
Schmidt was born in Romania in 1924 and his family immigrated to Canada in 1927.
“I’m very happy to make this donation to the province and the people of Alberta. I’ve lived on this land since 1933 and my wish is to preserve the land in it’s natural state for future generations to enjoy,” Schmidt said when donating the land in 2014.
Originally Published March 12, 2015 in the ECA Review