Slave Lake

Discover Slave Lake, Alberta: A Historical and Touristic Overview

Nestled in northern Alberta, Canada, Slave Lake is a charming town surrounded by the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River No. 124. Approximately 255 km (158 mi) northwest of Edmonton, Slave Lake is situated on the southeast shore of Lesser Slave Lake, at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 88. Serving as a local hub for the area, Slave Lake also houses the administrative office for the Sawridge First Nation.

The Rich History of Slave Lake, Alberta

The first European known to visit the area of present-day Slave Lake was British explorer David Thompson, who arrived in 1799. Following his brief visit, other British agents established several fur trading posts around Slave Lake, including a Hudson's Bay Company post at the mouth of the lake.

A settlement developed around the post, initially known as Sawridge. In 1923, it was renamed Slave Lake. After a flood in the 1930s destroyed much of the town, it was relocated and rebuilt at its current location on higher ground. Slave Lake was incorporated as a town in 1965. In July 1988, the town was inundated by a flood of Sawridge Creek.

Slave Lake, Alberta and the 2011 Wildfire

On May 15, 2011, large parts of Slave Lake were affected by wildfires. Winds pushed the flames into town, destroying many houses and businesses. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued, but highways had been closed and residents were urged to seek refuge at beaches, large parking lots, and open spaces.

On May 16, 2011, provincial officials reported that 40% of the town had been destroyed or damaged by the fires, including the town hall, the library, a radio station, a mall, and a significant number of homes and other buildings. Thankfully, no injuries or deaths were reported. On May 17, 2011, Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee indicated one-third of the town had been destroyed by the wildfire.

On July 6, Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited the town to offer encouragement to residents and support for rebuilding efforts.

The Geography and Climate of Slave Lake, Alberta

Slave Lake experiences a subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification Dfc) that borders on a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb). Summers tend to be mild with cool nights, while winters are long and severely cold.

Demographics of Slave Lake, Alberta

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Slave Lake had a population of 6,836 living in 2,405 of its 2,681 total private dwellings, a change of 2.8% from its 2016 population of 6,651. With a land area of 14.31 km2 (5.53 sq mi), it had a population density of 477.7/km2 (1,237.3/sq mi) in 2021.

In the 2016 Census of Population, Slave Lake recorded a population of 6,651 living in 2,329 of its 2,762 total private dwellings, a -1.9% change from its 2011 population of 6,782. With a land area of 14.44 km2 (5.58 sq mi), it had a population density of 460.6/km2 (1,192.9/sq mi) in 2016. According to its 2007 municipal census, the population of Slave Lake was 7,031.