Patricia Lake is located in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, near the town of Jasper. It is connected by hiking trails to the town of Jasper, and other tourist destinations such as Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Mountain.
During World War II, Patricia Lake was chosen as the secret location for Project Habakkuk. Patricia Lake was chosen for this project because of the comprehensive rail connections at nearby Jasper and the lake itself offering a suitably cold and remote location with a long-standing history of military training activities.
This project was the inspiration of Winston Churchill (then prime minister of the United Kingdom), who had the idea of building an unsinkable ice barge, similar in concept to an aircraft carrier, for the purpose of allowing aircraft to land and refuel. A scale model prototype was built and was afloat on Patricia Lake for the entire summer of 1943. The project was eventually abandoned after the calculations for the full-size version were completed, at which point it was decided that the challenges of the undertaking made the project unattractive . When the war ended, the prototype barge was sunk, forever to remain in Patricia Lake, never having advanced past the scale model stage. The wreck remains there to this day and is a favourite destination for divers who enjoy exploring the wreck at the bottom of Patricia Lake.
One diving expedition to the site in 1985 found the remains of the barge on a steep slope located just off-shore, lying at such an angle that the vessel occupied a range of depths between 26 and 43 metres (85 and 141 feet). Although the refrigeration equipment was removed before sinking, the wooden sides of the hull remained. By June 2011, only the west hull wall of the structure remained intact, the rest having fallen to pieces, with the wreckage strewn over the nearby area. There is a plaque located underwater at the site explaining the wreck’s part in World War II history.
Within the area of Patricia Lake there are several places to stay. Located just 5 minutes from Jasper, Patricia Lake Bungalows provides a vantage point from which to experience the beauty of the lake, its wildlife and the natural environment. Patricia Lake is a quiet and peaceful area that is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and photographers. For those looking to enjoy the lake from the water, rowing boats are available to rent.
To travel to the lakes area from the town of Jasper, follow Connaught Drive and turn right onto Cedar Avenue, which becomes Pyramid Lake Road shortly after passing the Recreation Centre. This road will take you through a forest of Douglas firs where you are likely to encounter some of Canada’s enchanting wildlife.
There are several trails around the lakes offering a great hiking experience. You may see elk, deer, beavers and possibly an occasional moose, black bear or grizzly bear.
The extensive areas of calm water in the area of Patricia Lake also makes it one of Jasper National Park’s best locations for bird watching. Keep a watchful eye for the Barred Owl, Pied-Billed Grebe and Barrow’s Goldeneye, all of which are seasoned regulars at Patricia Lake.