The Lauder Sandhills, several miles west of Hartney, were created between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago. When the glaciers from the last ice age receded to the north, they left huge lakes in their wake. Glacial Lake Hind covered the area around present-day Hartney.
Over the site of the Lauder Sandhills, a delta formed where a river ran into the still body of Lake Hind. Sand deposits built up over this spot and remained after the glacial lakes had drained from the landscape.
The sand hills have much recreational and sporting uses in winter and summer. In the summer, there are areas to hike and walk through the desert svannah type vegetation.
The crocuses and prickly pear cactus berries are in abundance, as are other wild flowers and a great variety of vegetation for study. The White Tail deer lives in abundance here as do many other animals native to the wilds of this type of topography.
Permanent settlement of the Lauder Sandhills began after Fort. Mr. Grant on the Souris River closed down in 1861. At this time some of the Metis traders from the fort settled in and around the sandhills and practiced mixed farming.
They were joined in 1869 by some Metis from the Red River Rebellion, whose arrival increased the population of the area to about 20 families. In 1891, a band of Dakota lived for several years in the sandhills beforemoving to the Moose Mountains.
Beginning in the early 1880s the are became populated with settlers from Ontario. Slightly later the French-speaking community of Grande Clairiere was established north of the sandhills.
The Lauder Sandhills Wildlife Management Area was established in 1971, originally to protect winter habitat of the white-tailed der. The protected area covers 3,145 hectares of land, or just over 12 square miles.