Fort Vermilion, Alberta Canada

Discover Fort Vermilion, Alberta: A Blend of History and Modern Amenities

Fort Vermilion, a hamlet nestled on the Peace River in northern Alberta, Canada, is a charming blend of history and modern amenities. Established in 1788, it shares the title of the oldest European settlement in Alberta with Fort Chipewyan. Today, it serves as the municipal office of Mackenzie County, Alberta's largest municipality by land area.

The Rich History of Fort Vermilion, Alberta

Long before European settlers arrived, the area was inhabited by Dane-zaa (Beaver), Dene, and later Cree First Nations. Named for the vermilion coloured clays lining the river banks, Fort Vermilion started as a trading community for the North West Company. The fort was established in 1788, following the expeditions of Alexander MacKenzie.

The fort was later transferred to the Hudson's Bay Company after the 1821 merger. By 1830, it was a prosperous fur trading post. The first Anglican church was built in 1877. The original Old Bay House, home of the chief factor, still exists and is now part of the Fort Vermilion National Historic Site.

Demographics of Fort Vermilion, Alberta

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Fort Vermilion had a population of 753 living in 257 of its 292 total private dwellings, a change of 17.8% from its 2016 population of 639. With a land area of 5.36 km2 (2.07 sq mi), it had a population density of 140.5/km2 (363.9/sq mi) in 2021.

The Geography of Fort Vermilion, Alberta

Fort Vermilion is located approximately 85 km (53 mi) southeast of High Level and 661 km (411 mi) northwest of Edmonton on the Highway 88 (Bicentennial Highway). The hamlet is one of the northernmost communities in the Peace River Country. The landscape is dominated by aspen, poplars and spruce, occasionally interspersed with areas of grasslands.

Climate in Fort Vermilion, Alberta

Despite being so high in latitude, Fort Vermilion experiences a humid continental climate (Dfb), though bordering closely on subarctic, with long, very cold winters and brief but fairly warm summers.

Infrastructure in Fort Vermilion, Alberta

The Fort Vermilion Community and Cultural Complex includes a hockey rink and concession, community hall/dance hall/stage with commercial kitchen and a curling rink. The Fort Vermilion Heritage Centre manages 25 sites (listed as both provincial and national historic sites), including the old log houses, the Dominion Experimental Farm, First Nations and natural history exhibits.

St. Theresa General Hospital is a building built in 1983, offering 26 acute-care beds and 8 long-term-care beds, as well as an emergency department. The Provincial Court of Alberta maintains a circuit court in Fort Vermilion, with the base point located in High Level.

The Fantasy North Golf & Country Club is a 9-hole golf course with a 150-year history. Additional facilities include a mini golf park, driving range and clubhouse. The course closed in spring 2020 following the flooding of the Peace River and remains inoperational due to extensive flood damage to clubhouse and course watering system.

The hamlet also has a public library and four churches: St. Theresa Catholic Church, Church of God in Christ Mennonite, Faith Gospel Fellowship and St. Luke's Anglican Church. The St. Luke's Anglican Church Cemetery dates back to 1877.

Located east of the settlement is the Fort Vermilion (Wop May Memorial) Aerodrome (TC LID: CEZ4), administered by Mackenzie County. It is an airport that serves the area with Provincial Air Ambulance services, as well as aerial firefighting. CanWest Air operates a base here with a charter and medevac aircraft. There is also a small heliport, Fort Vermilion/Country Gardens B&B Heliport.

The Rodeo Grounds are located 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of the community, and hosts a rodeo every year in July (check for dates). The event features cattle roping and bucking broncos along with other competition.

Other events and festivals held in Fort Vermilion include Canada Day celebrations, Town and Country Fair, River Daze and Arts and Crafts Show. A Farmer's Market is organized periodically based on interest. The yearly Get to Know You Night is held in mid September to promote services and organizations is popular with northern residents.

DA Thomas Park is a grassed day use area in Fort Vermilion that provides picnic tables with campfire spots overlooking the river with a boat launch and dock to access the river. There are a number of beaches along the Peace River that are accessible only by boat (upstream and downstream). In North Vermilion (Buttertown) there is a beach accessible by road.