County History

Print

The Lac La Biche region has a long and colourful history. Famous explorer and mapmaker David Thompson travelled through the region in 1798 on his way to find the elusive Northwest Passage. The Hudson’s Bay Company established a fort at Lac La Biche in 1799 and Oblate Catholic priests officially established Lac La Biche Mission in 1853. The mission is now a popular National Historic Site, located 16 kilometres northwest of present day Lac La Biche.

The County is famous for its many lakes, most notably Lac La Biche Lake, which is a French translation of a Cree phrase, meaning "Lake of the Elk". In addition to lakes, rivers and streams, the County's topography features forests, farmland, muskeg, and dozens of recreation areas and trails.

Lac La Biche is the second-oldest established community in Alberta and has one of the oldest Metis settlements in Alberta, along with Lac St. Anne, St. Albert and St. Paul De Metis. The region was an ideal place to develop trade and communities because of its strategic access to the Churchill and Mackenzie drainage basins, abundant wildlife, fertile soil, pristine environment and good transportation routes - first by water and then by rail and roads.

Home to Aboriginal people for thousands of years, settlement in Lac La Biche brought together a multicultural mixture of ethnic groups, anchored by Cree, English, French, Italian, Lebanese, Metis, Russian and Ukrainian populations. While much of Lac La Biche County has French Canadian origins, the hamlets of Venice and Hylo were established as Italian agricultural colonies. The region has one of the largest Muslim populations per capita in Canada. When the
Al Kareem Mosque was constructed in 1958, it was only the second one in Canada.

Lac La Biche County was created in 2007 when the Town of Lac La Biche and Lakeland County amalgamated. It is one of the largest municipal districts in Alberta and is adjacent to four Aboriginal communities: Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Heart Lake First Nation, Kikino Metis Settlement and Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement. In addition, it has two urban centres - Lac La Biche and Plamondon – and many smaller hamlets and rural subdivisions.

The region boasts thriving agriculture, oil and gas, forestry, tourism and service industries, and has a wide variety of amenities and services for all age groups. The area is rich in natural resources, particularly oil and gas in the northeast portion of the County, which is a major economic driver. The energy industry is leading the way in economic growth and fuelling a bright, prosperous future for the County and its residents.

Key Statistics

  • Population: 8,544 (2016)
  • Visitors per year: 175,000
  • Land Area: 12,570 square kilometres
  • Distance from Edmonton: 235 kilometres
  • Median age of residents: 37
  • Number of lakes: 152
  • Hours of sunshine per year: 2,240
  • Annual precipitation: Rain 53 centimetres (14 inches); Snow 133 centimetres (52 inches)
  • Average house price: $360,000
  • Value of major projects in area: $12 billion
  • Top Industries: oil and gas, construction, agriculture, transportation, warehousing