German, English, and Ukranian settlers arrived in the area during 1881-82. They quickly began clearing land and farming the area around the Beaver Hills. The Beaver Hills were considered too hilly, wet and generally less suitable for agriculture. For this reason, very little serious land clearing and agriculture was attempted. Most, but not all homesteads on the land which would later become Elk Island, were primarily filed for speculative purposes.

When the park was founded, there were numerous homesteaders within the new boundaries, including the Hayburger, Reid, Moss, and Oster families. In 1909, most families, except the Osters, sold their land to the Dominion Government. The Osters, who homesteaded in 1904 near present day Oster Lake, were plagued by bison and other animals eating their crops. Carl H. Oster built a home, cleared 40 acres and lived in the Park until 1941.He eventually gave up his land title in exchange for the right to remain on his homestead for life and serve as the park’s gatekeeper until his retirement.

Daniel Jordan was a squatter living in the Park. In 1909, when squatters rights were abolished, Mr. Jordan was given $900.00 and left the Park. The lake on his homestead area bears his name.