North Eastern Alberta Today
The largest settlement in North Eastern Alberta is the City of Cold Lake. Cold Lake was incorporated as a town in 1996 through the amalgamation of the towns of Cold Lake, Grand Centre, and Medley (the Canadian Forces Base 4 Wing). Four year later, Cold Lake became a city. It has a population of approximately 13,000 as of 2009.
Cold Lake is an economically diversified community. As part of Alberta’s Lakeland district, tourism is important to the economy. The city offers many summer and winter activities for visitors, including the Cold Lake Marina, the Kinosoo Beach, and a series of trails. Cold Lake also has a thriving oil and gas industry, as the city lies on the southern edge of the Athabasca oil sands. In addition to these industries, Cold Lake is home to the Canadian Air Force base, 4 Wing, which has been crucial to Cold Lake’s development as a city. The base is the largest employer in the area, with 2000 military members and 250 civilians working there. 4 Wing Cold Lake also contributes to the tourism industry through the annual exercise Maple Flag, a NATO demonstration held from mid-May to mid-June that brings in about 6000 visitors annually.
As the economic capital of North Eastern Alberta, Cold Lake is the headquarters of the North Eastern Alberta Real Estate Board. Founded in 1980, the board represents 78 REALTORS® within 14 brokerages in Cold Lake, Bonnyvlle, St. Paul, and other urban centres.
St. Paul has a population of over 5400 (as of 2009), 30% of which is Franco-Albertan, making it an important Franco-Albertan Settlement. Its economic base is largely agricultural. The town’s building permit values have averaged about $8 million dollars in the 2000s, peaking at $10,754,000. The economy is also supported by the oil and gas industry as well as a growing tourism industry, due to its location in Alberta’s Lakeland. St. Paul is also famous for having the world’s first UFO landing pad, a tourist attraction built for Canada’s Centennial celebrations in 1967.
Bonnyville is another Franco-Albertan town in north eastern Alberta. Bonnyville is home to approximately 5,900 people, as of 2009. Bonnyville’s economy is based on agriculture, oil and gas, as well as tourism. The town is an important service centre for agricultural and petroleum industries, as it borders the Athabasca oil sands and heavy oil deposits. Recently Imperial Oil, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, and Alberta Energy Company have all invested in major projects in the Bonnyville area. The town is also situated on a large natural gas field. Bonnyville’s Lakeland tourism industry is growing. In addition to boating and water sports, hunting, fishing and bird watching attract increasing numbers of tourists every year. In addition, Bonnyville is home to one of Alberta largest tree nurseries.
The town of Redwater has a population in excess of 2200. The oil and gas industry remains important to the town. Redwater’s major landmark is the “Discovery Well” derrick, the original derrick that brought about Redwater’s transformation in 1948.
Finally, Lac La Biche continues to be an important urban centre in North Eastern Alberta, though it lost its town status in 2007. Lac La Biche is now Lac La Biche County, after the Town and the Lakeland County were amalgamated. About 3000 people live within Lac La Biche proper, and just over 6,000 people in the Lakeland County. Lac La Biche’s economy is based on oil and gas, forestry, tourism, and agricultural industries. The forestry industry has become more important in recent years due to the construction of an Alberta Pacific Forest Industries pulp mill. Tourism, Lac La Biche’s first major industry, continues to grow, attracting over 175,000 annually to the area.
4 Wing Cold Lake. “General Information.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.airforce.forces.ca/4w-4e/page-eng.asp?id=364
City of Cold Lake. “Living.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.coldlake.com/siteengine/activepage.asp?PageID=151
City of Cold Lake. “Municipal Development Plan 2007-2037. Retrieved March 5, 2009 from http://www.coldlake.com/files/%7B5426F315-E6E9-46C6-9F94-3A102570C9E5%7D291_LU_07_MDP%20(web).pdf
Cold Lake Travel and Tourism. “ Cold Lake at a Glance.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.coldlake.worldweb.com/
Heritage Community Foundation. “The Community.” St. Vincent and St. Paul: Memory in Francophone Alberta. Albertasource.ca. Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.abheritage.ca/stvincent-stpaul/st_paul/community_en.html
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Lac La Biche Regional Community Development Corporation. “Economic Base.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.laclabicheregion.ab.ca/index.php?id=81
Lac La Biche Regional Community Development Corporation. “Lac La Biche.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.laclabicheregion.com/index.php?id=72
St. Paul and District Chamber of Commerce. “Demographics.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.stpaulchamber.ca/demog.html
St. Paul and District Chamber of Commerce. “Visitor Information.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.stpaulchamber.ca/vi.html
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Town of Bonnyville. “Message from the Mayor.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://town.bonnyville.ab.ca/visiting/
Town of Redwater. “History of Redwater.” Retrieved March 5, 2009 from
Town of St. Paul. “Welcome to the Town of St. Paul Alberta.” Retrieved March 9, 2009 from http://www.town.stpaul.ab.ca/