Fort Chipewyan, Alberta Canada

Discovering Fort Chipewyan, Alberta: A Historical and Cultural Gem

Fort Chipewyan, often referred to as Fort Chip, is a quaint hamlet nestled in the northern region of Alberta, Canada. It is part of the Regional Municipality (RM) of Wood Buffalo and is situated on the western tip of Lake Athabasca. The hamlet is adjacent to the Wood Buffalo National Park and is approximately 223 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

The Rich History of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta

Fort Chipewyan is one of the oldest European settlements in Alberta. It was established as a trading post by Peter Pond of the North West Company in 1788 and was named after the Chipewyan people living in the area. Roderick Mackenzie of Terrebonne, one of the fort's founders, had a passion for literature. This passion led to the establishment of a library at the fort in 1790, which held over 2000 books and became one of the most famous in Rupert's Land.

From 1815 to 1821, the Hudson's Bay Company maintained a competing Fort Wedderburn on Coal Island, just 2.4 km from the North West Company's fort. Sir John Franklin set out from Fort Chipewyan on his overland Arctic journey in 1820. The hamlet experienced a great famine in 1887–1888 and did not see electric lights until 1959.

Historic Sites in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta

Old Fort Point, the site of the first Fort Chipewyan established in 1788, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1930. Other historic places in the community include the site of the third Fort Chipewyan established in 1803, the Anglican Church built in 1880, the Day School built in 1874, and the Roman Catholic Mission Church built in 1909.

Climate of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta

Fort Chipewyan experiences a subarctic climate with long, very cold, dry winters and short, warm, wetter summers. The highest temperature ever recorded was 39.3 °C on 30 June 2021, and the coldest was −51.1 °C on 1 February 1917.

Demographics of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Fort Chipewyan had a population of 798 living in 309 of its 387 total private dwellings. The hamlet's population is predominantly made up of Cree and Chipewyan (Dene) First Nations and Métis people.

Transportation in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta

Air Travel

The Fort Chipewyan Airport, opened on June 18, 1966, serves the hamlet. Air travel is one of two methods of access to Fort Chipewyan in the summer.

Water Travel

In the summer, the hamlet can also be accessed by boat from Fort McMurray via the Athabasca River.

Road Travel

There are no all-weather roads to Fort Chipewyan, but it can be reached via winter roads. In June 1998, the Alberta government conducted studies on all-weather road access by extending the existing Highway 63 from Fort McMurray.

Solar Energy in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta

In September 2014, the community of Fort Chipewyan installed a 1.8 kW solar array on the roof of the Elder Lodge for emergency backup power. The Fort Chipewyan Solar Farm, developed by Three Nations Energy LP and constructed in 2019 through 2020, is expected to supply approximately 25 percent of Fort Chipewyan's energy and annually replace 800,000 litres of diesel fuel.