Adams Lake: Officially Recognizing a Long–standing Local Name

Adams Lake (looking west), August 29, 2012, Alberta Geographical Names Program
Adams Lake (looking west), August 29, 2012, Alberta Geographical Names Program

The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and the Minister of Culture has officially adopted the name Adams Lake for a small lake in Red Deer County (see information bulletin). The lake is approximately 100 hectares (250 acres) in size and located about two kilometres south of Raven and 35 kilometres west of Innisfail. The adoption of this name is significant as it commemorates the Adams family, who homesteaded in the region, and recognizes a name that has been used locally for about 100 years.

David Arthur and Julia Marie Adams, 1902, Photograph courtesy of the Adams family
David Arthur and Julia Marie Adams, 1902, Photograph courtesy of the Adams family

The name commemorates the family of David and Julia Adams. David Arthur Adams was born in Stratford, Ontario. As a young man he met Julia Marie Hedlund, of Chippewa County, Minnesota at a hotel in Lakota, North Dakota. They were married in 1902 and lived for a time with David’s parents in Birtle, Manitoba. The couple soon struck out on their own and lived for a time in Vancouver and Mission, British Columbia and in Calgary, Alberta. Ultimately, in 1912, they settled on a homestead in the Raven District. The homestead, NW2-36-4-W5, was on the eastern shore of a small lake. The lake had been previously noted as “Lake No. 3” in a 1904 Dominion Land Survey Plan of Township 36-4-W5 and it appears unnamed on most federal government maps of the region following that date. It became popular with people from as far away as Spruce View for skating in the winter months and after 1912, it became known to locals as “Adams Lake,” likely due to the family’s proximity.

By the time the Adams’ had settled near Raven, they were raising six children, and four more were born during their time at the homestead. According to David and Julia’s descendents, the land the family was working was not ideal for agriculture and, perhaps for this reason, at the age of 42, David Adams enlisted for service with the 187th (Central Alberta) Regiment during the First World War. Following the war he returned to farming. However, as the older children grew up and left home for farms in the neighbouring districts, and other careers of their own in Spruce View, Bowden, Innisfail and Rocky Mountain House, the farmstead was not sustainable and at some point in the 1920s David and Julia also left the area. David passed away in Calgary in 1942. Julia lived with her children in the Dickson and Kevisville districts and the Pigeon Lake area before also passing away in Calgary in 1966.

Aerial Imagery: Adams LakeAlthough the Adams family remained in the general area for some time, their direct association with the lake was relatively short. However, field research done by the Alberta Geographical Names Program in 1981 and 2012 found that the name Adams Lake was still being used by many local residents and that the name had been in use since at least the 1920s, probably even longer. The lake has also been identified by that name in local publications, newspapers and water conservation reports for the area.

In Alberta, geographical names are adopted after being evaluated against the “Principles of Geographical Naming.” These principles can be found in the Geographical Names Manual. The principles to approve names are based on national and international standards and guidelines and hold that names that have a demonstrated local and/or historical usage should be given primacy when names are being considered for features with no official name. In 2011, Robert Nanninga, a resident of the Raven area applied to Alberta Culture to have the long-standing, but unofficial name given official recognition by Alberta Culture. A considerable amount of information was provided by the applicant and the region’s local history (Grub Axe to Grain…). However, the real breakthrough came when another area resident put researchers in touch with Ken Adams, a grandson of David and Julia. Through him connections were made with Georgina O’Coin, a granddaughter, and Edith Hudson (née Adams), the last surviving child of David and Julia. When these three family members were interviewed in Red Deer in August 2012, Mrs. Hudson was 101 years old. The information given during this interview proved invaluable in firming up the history of the lake and family by providing more details than were included in the local history. It was a true pleasure to be able to meet with the descendents of this homesteading family.

LtoR: Georgina O’Coin, Ken Adams, Edith Hudson (née Adams). Taken at Red Deer, August 29, 2012, Alberta Geographical Names Program
LtoR: Georgina O’Coin, Ken Adams, Edith Hudson (née Adams). Taken at Red Deer, August 29, 2012, Alberta Geographical Names Program

The Adams Lake naming proposal was supported by the Municipal Council of Red Deer County. The Board of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation decided to officially adopt the name during their October 20, 2012 meeting in Banff. On November 19, 2012, the Minister of Culture concurred with the board’s decision and the adoption of the name became official. Notification of the adoption of the name Adams Lake was published in Alberta Gazette on January 15, 2013. Notification of the new official name has been communicated to provincial mapping authorities and to the Secretariat of the Geographical Names Board of Canada for inclusion in the Canadian Geographical Names Database, ensuring that the name will appear on new maps of the region produced by the federal and provincial governments.

Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Names Program Coordinator


National Topographic System Map Sheet: 83 B/1 – Markerville

Latitude/Longitude: 52° 04′ 05″ N & 114° 29′ 05″ W

Alberta Township System: Sec. 3 Twp. 36 Rge. 4 W5

Description: Approximately two km south of Raven and 35 km west of Innisfail (town).

Additional Resources 

Additional information about the lake and the Adams family can be found in:

Grub Axe to Grain…: A History of Craig, Dickson, Happy Hill, Heckla, Hola, Markerville, New Hill, North Raven, Raven, Red Raven, Rich Hill, Spruce View (Spruce View: Spruce View School Area Historical Society, 1973). Available from Our Future Our Past: The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project, University of Calgary,

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