Wabasca, Alberta Canada

Discover Wabasca, Alberta: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Wabasca, also known as Wabasca-Desmarais, is a charming hamlet nestled in northern Alberta, Canada. It lies within the Municipal District (MD) of Opportunity No. 17, situated between and along the South and North Wabasca Lakes. The hamlet is approximately 123 km northeast of Slave Lake, at the intersection of Highway 813 and Highway 754.

A Glimpse into the History of Wabasca, Alberta

Early History of Wabasca, Alberta

The Hudson's Bay company established their first trading post in the Wabasca area in the 1880s. This was followed by the St. John’s Anglican Mission in 1894 and St. Martin’s Catholic Boarding School in 1901. The signing of Treaty 8 in 1899, coupled with a booming fur trade, attracted more settlers and indigenous people to the region. The first Indian reserve in the area, Wabasca 166, was surveyed in 1913.

The 2019 Wildfire in Wabasca, Alberta

In May 2019, the McMillan complex forest fire, suspected of being caused by arson, was characterized as out of control. On May 29, strong easterly winds pushed smoke into the community, leading to an overnight evacuation order affecting 3,300 people. The fire burned 273,000 ha of forest in the MD of Opportunity No. 17, and residents could not return to their homes until June 11, 2019.

The Geography of Wabasca, Alberta

Wabasca is located in the Boreal Plains of Northern Alberta, part of the largest intact forest on earth. Two large lakes, North Wabasca Lake and South Wabasca Lake, border the town along the west. The Wabasca River runs along downtown and connects the two lakes before continuing to the Peace River as part of the Mackenzie River watershed.

Climate of Wabasca, Alberta

Wabasca experiences a subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification Dfc).

Demographics of Wabasca, Alberta

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Wabasca-Desmarais had a population of 1,594 living in 522 of its 619 total private dwellings, a change of 7.7% from its 2016 population of 1,480.

Arts and Culture in Wabasca, Alberta

The Wabasca Public Library, located in the Lakeview Centre, is a member of the Peace Library System which joins 39 communities across northern Alberta in a single library network. Wabasca hosts numerous events annually, including the RCMP Fish Derby, the Wabasca Road Race, and the Lions Club Ski-Doo Rally among others. The hamlet also houses four churches.

Infrastructure and Transportation in Wabasca, Alberta

Sports and Recreation in Wabasca, Alberta

The community boasts a recreation centre that includes a pool, jacuzzi, steam room, and fitness centre. The Lakeview Sports Centre, opened in February 2013, provides the community with an indoor field house complete with gymnasium, running track, stage, and concessions. Wabasca also has an ice arena, Marian Wolitiski Arena, and the George Stoll Recreation Grounds featuring baseball diamonds, batting cage, basketball courts, skateboard park, playground, and winter outdoor ice rinks.

Outdoor Recreation in Wabasca, Alberta

Wabasca offers opportunities for hunting and trapping year-round. Common big game species in the area include white-tailed deer, black bear, elk, and moose. Many game birds are found in the forest around the hamlet, including spruce grouse, ruffed grouse, and sharp-tailed grouse. Fishing yields species such as walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and burbot. The Wabasca Lions Campground contains 35 camping sites along the shores of North Wabasca Lake. A public sandy beach and boat launch are also located on site. There are many multi-use trails surrounding and running through Wabasca, commonly used by ATVs, snowmobiles, cross country skiers, hikers, and mountain bikers.