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2. Clearwater River Dene Nation

Part of the Lac La Loche lakeshore of the Clearwater River Dene Nation. (photo by Raymond Dauvin)

Clearwater River, Saskatchewan

Clearwater River is the village of the Clearwater River Dene Nation. It is situated on the east side of Lac La Loche 
and shares its southern border with the village of La Loche.

Clearwater has grown rapidly since 1979 when it was first officially created. 
The population of Clearwater increased from 455 in 1991 to 778 in 2011.  An increase of 323 or 71%.
Some of this increase was from members living in La Loche who relocated to Clearwater as housing became available.

As many as 500 members of the Clearwater River Dene Nation live in the village of La Loche.

"CRDN has a total registered membership of 1,672 with 761 members residing on-reserve and 911 members residing at locations
off-reserve as of November 2010." .... MLTC

Registered Population of CRDN as of August, 2017

Residency# of People
Registered Males On Own Reserve464
Registered Females On Own Reserve454
Registered Males On Other Reserves17
Registered Females On Other Reserves20
Registered Males On No Band Crown Land3
Registered Females On No Band Crown Land3
Registered Males Off Reserve598
Registered Females Off Reserve566
Total Registered Population2,125

Clearwater River Dene School website.....
Meadow Lake Tribal Council website.......

Population and dwelling counts
Clearwater River Dene 222, IRISaskatchewan
Population in 2011 17781,033,381
Population in 2006 1658968,157
2006 to 2011 population change (%)18.26.7
Total private dwellings 2199460,512
Private dwellings occupied by usual residents 3178409,645
Population density per square kilometre25.51.8
Land area (square km)30.50588,239.21

Clearwater River Dene Nation population from 1991 to 2011


Census year


% increase




















The Clearwater River Dene Nation increased by 323 people between 1991 and 2011 or by 71%.

July 17, 1911 at Portage La Loche (West La Loche). Treaty payments are being paid to the Portage La Loche Band. The HBC factor's house is in the background.


Whitefish Lake now called Garson Lake was already an old established Dene village of 50 people in 1880.
The families lived in log homes by the lake and cultivated small fields of potatoes.
On August 4, 1899 the residents were gathered in Fort McMurray and selected Adam Boucher as headman to represent them in the signing of Treaty 8.
The descendants of this group from Garson Lake "became known as the Portage La Loche Band".
At the La Loche Mission in 1907 these families asked that treaty payments be made to them at La Loche or Buffalo River so they wouldn't have to 
travel all the way to Fort McMurray.  
On July 17, 1911 they received their treaty payments at Portage La Loche (West La Loche). 
In 1920 the Portage La Loche Band had 66 members. 

Land transfers: 

In 1970 three parcels of land were transferred to the Portage La Loche Band. 
For a time the "La Loche Landing" (IR 223) was being developed as a village and in 1974 it had 70 residents 
however most of the band members chose to live in the village of La Loche.
The band had about 280 members living in La Loche and the La Loche Landing in 1975.

In 1979 the parcel at Palmbere Lake/Linval Lake area was traded for land bordering La Loche to the north.
This area  (IR 222) is now home to the village of Clearwater River.....see news article 1979

The third parcel (IR 221) is on the south west shore of Lac La Loche. It had a few houses in the 1970's.
In 1820 the trading posts of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company were located on the lake in that area. 

Note: The author has published part of this article on

These three maps show the three parcels of land transferred to the Portage La Loche Band in 1970.
They also show the old trails and winter roads used by the area residents.
The short dashes are trails. The long dashes are winter roads. ....see more of this map

La Loche 74 C edition 2...scale 1.250,000. 
Produced and printed by the Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, 1960 
from air photographs taken in 1952. Reprinted with contour revision 1964. Interim corrections 1977. Ottawa

IR 221......... An ancient trail connects Garson Lake to West La Loche while other trails and winter roads begin at La Loche and go south, north and east. (winter roads have longer dashes)
IR 222.....This reserve at Palmbere Lake near Bear Creek was traded in 1979 for the one that borders La Loche.
IR 223.....This reserve was called the La Loche Landing in the 1970's. Note the ancient trail on the shore of Peter Pond Lake.

Notes and references:

"Although CRDN lands lie within the territorial boundaries of Treaty No. 10 signed in 1906, its treaty origins go back to 1899 when Adam Boucher, a Dene leader, signed an adhesion to Treaty No. 8 at Fort McMurray. Boucher's people became known as the Portage La Loche Band, but they were not at first allocated any of their treaty land entitlement and remained occupying traditional lands in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. It was not until 1970 that three parcels of reserve land were finally transferred to the Portage La Loche Band"..........from the book  "Canoeing the Churchill"

Part of  Treaty Eight with Adam Boucher's mark is shown below.

"The Chipewyan and Cree Indians of Fort McMurray and the country thereabouts, having met at Fort McMurray, on this fourth day of August, in this present year 1899, Her Majesty's Commissioner, James Andrew Joseph McKenna, Esquire, and having had explained to them the terms of the Treaty unto which the Chief and Headmen of the Indians of Lesser Slave Lake and adjacent country set their hands on the twenty-first day of June, in the year herein first above written, do join in the cession made by the said Treaty and agree to adhere to the terms thereof in consideration of the undertakings made therein.

In witness whereof Her Majesty's said Commissioner and the Headmen of the said Chipewyan and Cree Indians have hereunto set their hands at Fort McMurray, on this fourth day of August, in the year herein first above written."


Report of Second Commission for Treaty No. 10 on Oct. 14, 1907 by Frank Pedley Esq. .....“at the Roman Catholic Mission near Portage La Loche” ..........“I found a number of families of Indians from Whitefish Lake, who asked very earnestly that I should pay them their annuities. I explained to them that I could not do that, as it was inconsistent with the rules of the department to pay Indians of a certain treaty by the agent of another treaty. They pointed out that it was a great hardship for them to be compelled to travel over a hundred miles through a difficult section of the country going to Fort McMurray, which took them five or six days to get there and the same number of days returning to their homes. Before leaving the mission, they handed me a petition praying that they be paid next year at Buffalo River on Buffalo Lake, to which point they can come in less than two days from Whitefish Lake.”

"On July 17 payments were made at Portage La Loche to a small band of Indians who entered treaty some years ago as part of the Fort McMurray band, but who
live immediately to the west of Lac La Loche, within the limits of Treaty 10."
The Sessional Papers of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada. Volume 45, issue 19 (from C.H. Parmelee,1911-Political Science.)

Map showing Treaty 8 boundaries.

Parcels 221, 222, 223 belong to the Clearwater River Dene Nation.

mailing address: 

Clearwater River, Saskatchewan
S0M 3H0