What It Took To Turn A Mine Pit Lake Into A Recreational Hot Spot

On a visit to Banff National Park, Canada in the fall of 2016, Golder geochemist Devin Castendyk made a stop at Quarry Lake – a recreational hot spot for the community of Canmore. Talking with an angler along the shoreline of the lake, Devin could hardly believe that this beautiful outdoor destination had once been a coal mine operation until 1973.

Gerry Stephenson

Gerry Stephenson, formerly the Chief Engineer for Canmore Mine Ltd. and co-author of this article, passed away on October 25, 2019 at age 88. After 60 years in the coal mining industry, Gerry shared his knowledge by offering guided mine tours at the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre. His co-author, Golder’s Devin Castendyk, relayed the following: “During the production of our journal article, I told several people that I hoped to have Gerry’s enthusiasm and attention to detail when I am in my 80’s. He was a pleasure to work with. The publication of this article meant a lot to Gerry, who put a lot of heart into the restoration of Canmore Lake.”

As a pit-lake specialist and enthusiast in his day job, Devin understood how open-pit mines are flooded as part of closure, but he had never seen a site reclaimed to the point that it could be returned to the community as a place to be enjoyed. And so began his quest to learn more about the rich backstory and decades-long effort that went into creating Quarry Lake as it is today, and ultimately to bring greater awareness to the motivations and approaches used in this successful closure.

The article “Reclamation of Canmore Creek: Example of a successful walk away pit lake closure” takes us through Devin’s research and first-person account from his co-author H. Gerry Stephenson, former chief mining engineer and reclamation project lead of Canmore Mines Ltd.

Read the full article below as originally published in Mining Engineering’s August 2019 issue, for the detailed journey from coal mine to recreational hub, highlighting the vision, planning and effort that it took to leave a legacy for both the environment and the community. An outstanding example of just what’s possible in responsibly-planned mine closure.

Article from Mining Engineering, August 2019
Reclamation of Canmore Creek; Example of a Successful Walk Away Pit Lake Closure
By H. Gerry Stephenson and Devin Castendyk


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