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The History of Lac La Biche

  • David Thompson was the first known European to set foot on the shores of Lac La Biche on October 4th, 1798
  • Original Meaning of Lac La Biche: Elk Lake (Red Deers Lake)
  • Portage La Biche was the carry over the height of land (The Little Divide) running between the two drainage basins (Athabasca – Mackenzie and Churchill)
  • Portage La Biche was a crucial link in the first navigable Trans Canada trade route that was inaugurated in 1811 by David Thompson. It was a passage to the Pacific from 1811 to 1825 and the gateway to the Southern Athabasca Country from 1799 to 1825.
  • Second oldest established community in Alberta
  • One of the oldest Metis Communities in Western Canada
  • Greenwich House which was built at Lac La Biche by Peter Fiddler was the first Hudson Bay Company post outside of Ruperts Land 1799
  • According to a census taken in 1872 Lac La Biche once had a larger population than Edmonton
  • Lac La Biche Mission: Founded in 1853 by the Oblate Missionaries
  • A militia unit known as the St. Albert Mounted Rifles rode out to the Lac La Biche Mission in order to guard it during the Riel rebellion of 1885
  • Village of Plamondon: French Canadian community founded on July 28th, 1908
  • Venice and Hylo Communities: were set up as an Italian Agricultural Colony in 1914
  • Lac La Biche Board of Trade (Chamber of Commerce) founded in 1922
  • Al Kareem Mosque: Canada’s 2nd and North America’s 3rd mosque built in 1958



(2006): Town 2758, County 6365: Total 9123


Cree, English, French, Italian, Lebanese, Metis, Russian, Ukrainian


  • Situated 225 kilometres North-East of Edmonton
  • Located adjacent to the Continental Divide (Little Divide) between the Athabasca-Mackenzie (Arctic) river basin and the Churchill (Hudson Bay) basin
  • Ecological Zone: Central Mixed Wood Boreal Forest
  • Number of lakes in the region: 152
  • Area of Lac La Biche Lake: 234 square kilometres
  • Hours of sunshine per year: 2240
  • Frost free days: 105
  • Annual precipitation: Rain 53.3 cm (14 in.); Snow 133 cm (52.4 in.)
  • Elevation of region: 561 metres (1840 feet)

Lac La Biche Mission

  • A National Historic Site and a Provincial Historical Resource (The highest level of Provincial Designation)
  • First Printing Press in Alberta: 1877
  • First Wheat grown in commercial quantities. A transaction involving an exchange of Seed Wheat for Pemmican with Reverend John McDougall was recorded in 1862
  • Earned the title “L’Entrepot Du Nord” (The Warehouse of the North) and became known as “La Reine Du Beau Lac” (The Queen of the beautiful lake)

  • The Hub of a transportation system which ran overland from the Red River Valley and the USA and then Downstream as far as Fort Good Hope which is on the Mackenzie River North of Great Bear Lake near the Arctic Circle
  • First Hospice and School in Alberta started by the Grey Nuns 1862
  • One of the first flour (grist) mills in Alberta
  • First Powered Sawmill in Alberta (A Waterwheel) 1871
  • First Cut Road in Alberta. It ran from the Mission to Fort Pitt and made a connection with the Carlton and Winnipeg Trails 1856

Parks & Recreation

  • Gateway to Lakeland Provincial Park and Provincial Recreation Area (Lakeland Provincial Park has an area of 147 square kilometres and the Provincial Recreation Area has 443.3 square kilometres for a total of 590.3 square kilometres
  • Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park: Alberta’s only island park is 234 hectares in size
  • Over 220 Bird species identified on Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park
  • Lac La Biche is a Provincial Bird Sanctuary and an Important Bird Area (IBA) of Global Significance
  • Garner Orchid Fen Natural Area (There are at least 16 Orchid species in the Lac La Biche Region
  • Alberta’s only canoe circuit (Jackson, Kinnaird and Blackett Lakes in Lakeland Provincial Park)
  • Lac la Biche Golf and Country Club: 18 hole public golf course on the shores of the Lake
  • Number of Park and Resort Campsites: over 1200
  • Lac La Biche Region has 20 percent of Alberta’s white sand beaches
  • Shaw Lake Cross Country Ski circuit
  • Over 50% of all Sport fish caught in Alberta are taken in the Lakeland Region

First Nations

  • Beaver Lake Cree Nation
  • Heart Lake First Nation

Metis Settlements

  • Kikino Metis Settlement
  • Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement


  • Portage College: offers University Transfer and over 30 certificate and diploma programs
  • Ten Public Schools and one Francophone Education School in the local communities

Related Links:

The History of Lac La Biche Portage College Lac La Biche Golf & Country Club
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