Originally named Goose Lake, Old Man Lake was renamed in 1936 in honour of an elderly settler that lived in the local area.
An earthen berm dam and overflow channel were constructed in 1987 just downstream of the western park boundary in order to create higher water levels to enhance waterfowl habitat in the Old Man Lake system. In 2009, actions to remove the dam were initiated because of erosion of the overflow channel. The dam has now been completely removed resulting in lower water levels in the lake chain.
This park is one of seven new parks and protected areas resulting from the Morice Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) and associated government-to-government discussions with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. Legislation of the park occurred in July, 2008.
The park lies in the Tze Zul and Gguzih Keyikh house territories within the Wet’suwet’en territory. The Tze Zul house territory is in the house of Ginehklaiyex (House of Many Eyes) that belongs to the Laksilyu (Small Frog) clan. The Gguzih Keyikh house territory is in the house of Kayex (Birchbark House) that belongs to the Gilseyhyu (Big Frog) clan.
Contributing to the parks cultural significance is the abundance of berry thickets on the south-facing natural grasslands including Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, cranberries and blueberries. The area also has abundant moose, and is known for wild rice (Fritillaria camschatcensis) and wild celery.
The cultural heritage role for Old Man Lake Park is to provide a connection to place for the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Cultural heritage on the land is the essence of the Wet’suwet’en identity.
Old Man Lake Park protects rare wetland ecosystems that offer high value breeding and migratory bird habitat. Red listed Saskatoon slender wheatgrass grasslands are also protected along with south facing grassland slopes that provide high quality ungulate winter range. Additionally, the park contains a high diversity of berry producing shrubs and food producing plants that are historically important to the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
Old Man Lake Park provides important habitat for wildlife that live in and around the park and contains important ungulate winter range. Lower snow depths are important for moose and deer. American bitterns (blue-listed) have been heard in the Old Man Lake area and are suspected to be breeding in the park. Trumpeter swans are known to breed in the park and a garter snake winter den has been noted in the park.
The area is routinely used as a stopover by migratory birds and contains locally rare breeding populations of Black Tern and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Peregrine Falcons (red-listed) have been observed preying on waterfowl in the Old Man Lake/China Nose area. The cliffs on China Nose Mountain are an ideal nesting location for Peregrine Falcons with good access to prey in Old Man Lake Park. Old Man Lake is eutrophic, and vulnerable to winter kill due to its shallowness and extremely abundant growth of aquatic weeds. Suitable habitat for Rainbow Trout is present.