The Ness Creek Site is a four-season destination and event facility in the boreal forest which hosts events ranging from the well-known Ness Creek Music Festival, the Northern Lights Bluegrass and Old-Tyme Music Camp and Festival, and the biennial EMMA International Artist Collaborative to weddings, group retreats, and family getaways. It is also a destination for ecotourism and outdoor education field trips for students from across the province. The Ness Creek Site is minutes away from the picturesque Nesslin Lake Campground and the resort town of Big River.
The Ness Creek Site is in many ways ‘on the edge’. It borders the west (the wild) side of Prince Albert National Park and is situated on the threshold of two watersheds – the Churchill River and the North Saskatchewan River systems. Big River was also the ‘last stop’ on the railroad line, making the area a true gateway to the north.
The surrounding forest is dotted with pristine lakes and creeks, providing habitat for many birds and animals, including deer, black bear, wolves, coyotes, moose, beaver, otter and several fish species. It is a mixed-wood forest, dominated by aspen and spruce, with stands of birch, pine, tamarack, black poplar, black spruce and fir trees. There are a wide variety of native herbaceous plants and shrubs, many of which are edible and useful for medicinal purposes. Much of the area’s forest has been marked by fire over the years, providing for a return of carbon to the sandy soils and rejuvenation of the ecosystems.
There has historically been a First Nation’s presence in the area, evidenced by worked stones found on the site. It is known that Chief Kenemotayoo, responsible for amalgamating several bands in the area over a century ago, used the trails in the region as a gateway from Stoney Lake (Delaronde Lake) into what is now the Prince Albert National Park. The trail from Delaronde Lake to Waskesiu Lake was known historically as the Kenemotoyoo Trail or ‘the 57’.