Discovering Lac La Biche, Alberta: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty
Lac La Biche, Alberta, is a charming hamlet nestled in the northeast region of the province. Approximately 220 km northeast of Edmonton, the provincial capital, Lac La Biche is a community rich in history and natural beauty. Previously a town, it amalgamated with Lakeland County to form Lac La Biche County on August 1, 2007.
The Origin of Lac La Biche, Alberta
The indigenous peoples of the area originally referred to the lake as Elk Lake. The earliest Europeans translated this name into English as "Red Deer Lake" and in French as "Lac la biche" ("Lake of the doe"). Over time, the French name came to be used in English as well.
A Historical Journey through Lac La Biche, Alberta
Lac La Biche was a significant point on the historical voyageur route that linked the Athabaskan region to Hudson Bay. Notable explorers like David Thompson and George Simpson used the fur trade route via the Beaver River from the main Methye Portage route that reached the Athabasca River. Thompson was the first known European to record his sojourn on Lac La Biche, arriving on October 4, 1798, and overwintering there.
Fur Trade Posts in Lac La Biche, Alberta
Thompson established the first permanent settlement in Lac La Biche on his 1798 trip, a Hudson's Bay Company trading post named Red Deers Lake House. Despite the post being abandoned by 1801, Lac La Biche was established as a permanent place of residence for some French-Canadian and Métis freetraders and their families. Fur trade activity continued unbroken, due to the importance of the portage, and Lac La Biche was visited by fur traders such as Gabriel Franchère and Ross Cox.
The Oblate Mission in Lac La Biche, Alberta
A Roman Catholic mission was established in 1853 by Oblate missionaries. The Lac La Biche Mission is now a National Historic Site and Provincial Historic Resource. It was the site of one of the first residential schools in Alberta.
Treaties and Insurrection in Lac La Biche, Alberta
The Government of Canada sought to extinguish the First Nations' title to the land across the prairies, in order to open the land up to settlement. Treaty 6 was negotiated in 1876 and covered the lands to the south of Lac La Biche. The new Hudson's Bay Company post at Lac La Biche was looted on April 26, 1885, during the North-West Rebellion by members of Big Bear's band. Treaty 8, covering the lands north of Lac La Biche, was negotiated in 1899. This set the stage for rail and settlement.
Demographics of Lac La Biche, Alberta
In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Lac La Biche had a population of 3,120 living in 1,198 of its 1,458 total private dwellings, a change of -6% from its 2016 population of 3,320. Lac La Biche County has a population of 7,673 and a retail trade area of 27,000.
Attractions in Lac La Biche, Alberta
Lac La Biche is home to the Lac La Biche Golf Course, while numerous lakes and campgrounds provide outdoor recreation opportunities in the area, including Lakeland Provincial Park to the east. Lac La Biche County has a small museum dedicated to sharing the history of the area, located in the Jubilee Hall building, beside the recreation grounds where the baseball diamonds, splash park, and green space are also located.
Infrastructure in Lac La Biche, Alberta
Lac La Biche Airport (YLB) is located 1.5 nautical miles (2.8 km; 1.7 mi) west of Lac La Biche. It features a fully serviced 5,700 by 100 ft (1,737 by 30 m) paved airstrip.