By Mike Rainone and Robert Greene
My fondest memories of Lake Pofianga occurred in the 1990s when we had the fabulous experience of taking a group of members from the Ponoka Rising Sun Club House out to spend a fun and invigorating weekend with nature. The peaceful and pristine setting of this magnificent Ponoka Fish and Game Association camp just a few miles north-west of town has been playing host to hundreds of club members and their families, guests, and special events since the early 1960s.
Shortly after the formation of our first Ponoka Fish and Game Association in 1955, the membership received a kindly donation of 5.9 acres of rolling natural land through which meandered the seasonal Maskwa Creek. The very enthusiastic new club members soon went to work to clear the brush from the ravine bottom and build a dam that would create a four-acre lake on the sight. Despite the fact that their efforts would sadly be rewarded by having the dam wash out in both 1961 and 1962, they persevered, and in 1964, with the help of the County of Ponoka, the provincial government, and some heavy equipment from the construction of Highway 2 (now the Queen Elizabeth), a properly engineered and sturdy dam with a concrete spillway was finally completed.
A contest was held with the local school children taking part to name the newly created lake, and over 50 years later, the natural facility is still and will always be known as tranquil and superb Lake Pofianga. Over the years, the very active Ponoka Fish and Game Association has grown to close to 700 members and have purchased four adjacent parcels of land that has quietly transformed this magnificent area into 200 acres of nature’s finest that is dedicated to the preservation of our precious environment as well as the recreation and pleasure of thousands of year round visitors from near and far. While diligently raising the funds to purchase and develop the property, the club planted over 6000 trees, and slowly added many other great amenities, including a 3200 square foot clubhouse, which is full of mementos and successes of past and present, and comes complete with showers and a commercial kitchen. Out amongst the trees, there are several quaint cabins that are used for conservation camps and special events, as well as a dozen canoes beside the lake for countless hours of family fun and fishing in the fully stocked lake. Lake Pofianga has become the perfect opportunity for visitors of all ages to experience a close and personal adventure with nature, whether strolling through many kilometres of trails and quietly enjoying countless species of birds, wild-life, and foliage, or taking advantage of the many recreational and camping opportunities spread throughout the complex. In constantly pursuing their most vital and ongoing goals of preserving our environment and providing educational programs and training in hunting and the use of firearms, safety and conservation, the Ponoka Fish and Game has also partnered to purchase, protect and maintain over 150 acres of pristine and historical property at Chain Lakes, as well as assuming responsibility of a 99-year lease from the County of Ponoka of 40 delicate acres on the northeast corner of Gull Lake.
Also carefully tucked into place among the rolling hills and fields surrounding Lake Pofianga are a modern but perfectly natural pistol range for small/big bore and handgun, a rifle range, trapshooting area and unique and challenging archery trails with a new electronic effect. The spacious camping area also features a ball diamond and horseshoe pits and playground, while just in front the club house is a big fire pit for fun and friendly gatherings and sing-songs for large and small family groups or events. On most weekends from May to September, the folks at Lake Pofianga will play host to groups of up to 200 for joyful events such as family reunions, weddings, and many others. The Ponoka Fish and Game also offers the use of its facilities for free to many non-profit groups or special community or district causes, and really appreciate the keen support of their executive, members, sponsors, and many volunteers who help to make it all happen.
Some of the many milestones of the very active Ponoka Fish and Game Association over the past half-century have included the hosting of the traditional Rifleman’s Rodeo on the September long weekend for 48 years, as well as holding an annual camp to allow boys and girls ages 11-14 to have the exciting opportunity of receiving basic instructions in the use and safety of firearms, archery, canoeing, and basic survival skills. Similar courses can also be arranged for adults and groups, with quality training provided by qualified members of the club. This education and other ongoing programs will hopefully assure that the local Association will continue to thrive and achieve its lofty goals long into the future, encouraging future generations and families to become members who will proudly carry on the traditions. Those interested in joining the Ponoka Fish and Game Association or wanting to receive more information on group camping, booking special events while enjoying the ‘Pofianga experience’ are welcome to contact phone 403-783-6192 or visit their website at www.ponokafishandgame.ca.