Whitecourt, Alberta Canada

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

Nestled in Northern Alberta, Canada, Whitecourt is a charming town surrounded by the picturesque Woodlands County. Located approximately 177 km northwest of Edmonton and 279 km southeast of Grande Prairie, Whitecourt is a junction of Highway 43 and Highway 32. The town is situated at an elevation of 690 m and is uniquely positioned at the confluence of four waterways – the Athabasca River, McLeod River, Sakwatamau River, and Beaver Creek. A Canadian National rail line runs through the town, adding to its connectivity. Known as the Snowmobile Capital of Alberta, Whitecourt is also home to the Whitecourt meteor impact crater on the nearby Whitecourt Mountain.

The Rich History of Whitecourt, Alberta

Whitecourt's history is deeply rooted in the Cree culture, with the community originally known as Sagitawah, meaning 'the place where the rivers meet'. The first Hudson's Bay Company trading post was established in 1897, but it wasn't until 1905 that the first permanent resident, John Goodwin, settled on the present-day town site. The expansion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1910 brought a wave of immigrants, encouraged by Premier Arthur Lewis Sifton to settle in the vast, scarcely inhabited area between Edmonton and the Peace River Country. The town's name, "Whitecourt", was chosen in 1910 by Walter White, the postmaster of the young community and son-in-law of former Kansas governor John W. Leedy, who also settled in the community.

The Diverse Geography of Whitecourt, Alberta

Whitecourt's geography is divided into three distinct components: the Valley, the Hilltop, and West Whitecourt. The Valley includes the town centre, the Athabasca Flats residential area, Millar Western's sawmill and pulp mill, and three manufactured home parks. The Hilltop comprises the Hilltop and Southlands Estates residential areas, the Hilltop industrial area, a 2.5 km highway commercial strip along Highway 43, and two manufactured home parks. West Whitecourt, nestled between the McLeod and Athabasca Rivers, includes an industrial area, a 1.0 km highway commercial strip along Highway 43, and a manufactured home park.

The Climate of Whitecourt, Alberta

Whitecourt experiences a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc), falling just short of a humid continental climate (Dfb) due to May and September having mean average temperatures just below 10 °C or 50 °F. Winters are long and cold, though milder than many areas farther east, even at lower latitudes, and summers are fairly short and relatively warm.

The Demographics of Whitecourt, Alberta

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Whitecourt had a population of 9,927 living in 3,876 of its 4,341 total private dwellings, a change of -2.8% from its 2016 population of 10,209. With a land area of 29.51 km2, it had a population density of 336.4/km2 in 2021. The population of the Town of Whitecourt according to its 2013 municipal census is 10,574, a 14.9% increase over its 2008 municipal census population of 9,202. At its current population, Whitecourt is one of the largest towns in the province and is eligible for city status.

Attractions in Whitecourt, Alberta

Whitecourt offers a variety of attractions including the Allan & Jean Millar Centre, Festival Park, the Forest Interpretive Centre and Heritage Park, and a variety of other facilities and parks. The Allan & Jean Millar Centre is a comprehensive recreation venue featuring an aquatic facility, a fieldhouse, a fitness facility, a children's indoor playground area, and boardroom and classroom rental spaces. Festival Park, located in the river valley adjacent to downtown, is a multi-use outdoor park facility consisting of a pond stocked with fish that is cleared for skating in the winter, trails, sports fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, an off-leash dog park, and a river slide attraction featuring two flowing artificial creeks with drops for tubing. The Forest Interpretive Centre includes a multi-media museum that presents the forestry industry's role in Whitecourt's history.

Transportation in Whitecourt, Alberta

Whitecourt is well-connected by air, bus, rail, and road. The full air-service Whitecourt Airport is located west of Whitecourt on the north side of Highway 32, approximately 5 kilometres from Highway 43. It is Alberta's ninth busiest airport with up to 32,000 aircraft using the airport annually. The CN Sangudo Subdivision provides rail service through Whitecourt from Edmonton to numerous gas plants south of Fox Creek. The town is served by two highways, Highway 43, which is part of the CANAMEX Corridor, and Highway 32, which provides Whitecourt with a direct link to the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) to the south.

Sister Cities of Whitecourt, Alberta

Since 1998, Whitecourt has been twinned with Yūbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan, fostering cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the two communities.