Swan Hills
Town of Swan Hills
Centre of Alberta Natural Area
Centre of Alberta Natural Area
Official logo of Swan Hills
Swan Hills is located in Big Lakes County
Swan Hills
Swan Hills
Location in Big Lakes County
Swan Hills is located in Alberta
Swan Hills
Swan Hills
Location in Alberta
Coordinates: 54°42′38″N 115°24′48″W / 54.71056°N 115.41333°W / 54.71056; -115.41333
Planning regionUpper Athabasca
Municipal districtBig Lakes County
 • New townSeptember 1, 1959
 • TownJanuary 1, 1967
 • MayorCraig Wilson
 • Governing bodySwan Hills Town Council
 • Land25.87 km2 (9.99 sq mi)
Elevation1,113 m (3,652 ft)
 • Total1,201
 • Density46.4/km2 (120/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−07:00 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−06:00 (MDT)
Postal code span
T0G 2C0
Area code(s)780, 587, 825
HighwaysHighway 32
Highway 33
WaterwaysMorse River
Freeman River

Swan Hills is a town in northern Alberta, Canada. It is in the eponymous Swan Hills, approximately 80 km (50 mi) north of Whitecourt and 62 km (39 mi) northwest of Fort Assiniboine. The town is at the junction of Highway 32 and Grizzly Trail, and is surrounded by Big Lakes County.

It is the nearest major settlement to the geographic centre of the province. In 1989, local resident Roy Chimiuk used a minimum bounding box method to place a cairn marking the exact location at 54°30′N 115°0′W / 54.500°N 115.000°W / 54.500; -115.000, about 30 kilometres south of the town.[6] The site is protected by the Centre of Alberta Natural Area, a 3-kilometre hike from Highway 33.[7]


Initially a base camp for workers in the Swan Hills oilfield, accommodations and facilities were moved from a nearby site and jointly developed in the present location by the government of Alberta and oil companies between 1959 and 1961.[8] Casually nicknamed 'Oil Hills',[9] the town's official name was taken from the area of densely forested uplands in which it is located, although 'Chalmers' was also considered,[10] after T.W. Chalmers, who had surveyed and cut the Klondike Trail through the area.

The New Town of Swan Hills was incorporated on September 1, 1959, and R.L. Maxfield was appointed as Development Officer and Secretary Treasurer.[8] Twenty-four parcels of industrial land were sold at the first land auction in November 1959.[8] The first all-weather road into the area was completed in 1960, replacing the treacherous forestry road connecting Swan Hills to Fort Assiniboine; the Swan Hills Post Office was opened the same year.[8] The New Town of Swan Hills was officially opened by Premier Ernest Manning in June 1962.[8]

Two teachers provided instruction for forty students in the first two-room school, which was quickly replaced by a seven-room building due to the rapidly increasing population as oil field workers began to relocate their families to the town.[8] Two mobile radio units provided communications and an isolated diesel generating plant provided power until Alberta Government Telephones installed service and Canadian Utilities Ltd. completed a 138 kilometres (86 mi) transmission line in 1960.[8] In November 1965, Swan Hills became the most northerly town in Alberta to be served with natural gas by Northwestern Utilities.[8]

Swan Hills' status was changed when it was formally incorporated as a town on January 1, 1967, making it the first town incorporated during Canada's centennial year.[11][8] Tom Parkinson was elected the first mayor, serving in the position until 1971.[8]

Situated within dense boreal forest, Swan Hills has been evacuated at least five times as wildfires threatened the town: 1972, 1981 and 1983,[12] and twice in May 1998,[13][14] when the Virginia Hills Fire,[15] came close. The town has since implemented a FireSmart[16] program, reducing fire fuel within and around the urban perimeter.


Federal census
population history
Source: Statistics Canada

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Swan Hills had a population of 1,201 living in 512 of its 728 total private dwellings, a change of -7.7% from its 2016 population of 1,301. With a land area of 25.87 km2 (9.99 sq mi), it had a population density of 46.4/km2 (120.2/sq mi) in 2021.[3]

In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Swan Hills recorded a population of 1,301 living in 535 of its 724 total private dwellings, a change of -11.2% from its 2011 population of 1,465. With a land area of 26.12 km2 (10.08 sq mi), it had a population density of 49.8/km2 (129.0/sq mi) in 2016.[23]


Retail district

The primary industry in Swan Hills is oil and gas, although the Swan Hills Treatment Centre, north of the town, is also a local employer. It is also a service centre for the logging industry.


United Church in quonset hut

Swan Hills' wilderness setting makes it a popular year-round destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor sports including camping, hunting, fishing, trapping and ATV riding.

Annual Events


Kindergarten to Grade 12 students are served by Swan Hills School [1], in the Pembina Hills Public Schools district.

Health Services

Emergency and other medical services are provided at the Swan Hills Healthcare Centre. Family and community social programs and services are available through FCSS (Family & Community Support Services) 780-333-4119


Local affairs in Swan Hills are managed by a mayor and town council under Alberta Municipal Affairs. Swan Hills is located in the provincial riding of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. Federally, the town is in the constituency of Peace River-Westlock.

Notable people


See also


  1. ^ "Location and History Profile: Town of Swan Hills" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. October 7, 2016. p. 625. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Municipal Officials Search". Alberta Municipal Affairs. May 9, 2019. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities)". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  4. ^ "Alberta Private Sewage Systems 2009 Standard of Practice Handbook: Appendix A.3 Alberta Design Data (A.3.A. Alberta Climate Design Data by Town)" (PDF) (PDF). Safety Codes Council. January 2012. pp. 212–215 (PDF pages 226–229). Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  5. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada and population centres". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  6. ^ "Center of Alberta". Town of Swan Hills. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Centre of Alberta Natural Area". Alberta Parks. June 19, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pipeline to the Past : the history of Swan Hills and district. Swan Hills, AB: Swan Hills Historical Society. 1994. pp. 11–12. ISBN 1-55056-153-7.
  9. ^ Peter., Baergen, William (2005). Pioneering with a piece of chalk : the one-room country schools of Alberta, 1885-1982. Stettler, AB: W.P. Baergen. ISBN 9780973949100. OCLC 62181440.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Place names of Alberta. Karamitsanis, Aphrodite, 1961-. Calgary: Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism and Friends of Geographical Names of Alberta Society. 1991–1996. ISBN 9781895176599. OCLC 26131065.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  11. ^ Marketing, BubbleUP. "History". www.townofswanhills.com. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  12. ^ Pipe line to the past : the history of Swan Hills and district. Swan Hills Historical Society. Swan Hills, Alta.: Swan Hills Historical Society. 1994. p. 236. ISBN 1550561537. OCLC 35887166.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ "Wild blows forest fires out of control". CBC News. May 5, 1998. Retrieved Aug 7, 2017.
  14. ^ Government of Canada, Public Safety Canada (2013-09-13). "Canadian Disaster Database". Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  15. ^ AEP Alberta (2012-11-15), Virginia Hills and The Fires of 1998, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2017-08-07
  16. ^ Alberta, Government of (11 December 2015). "FireSmart grants help protect communities from risk of wildfire | Alberta.ca". www.alberta.ca. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  17. ^ "Table 9: Population by census subdivisions, 1966 by sex, and 1961". 1966 Census of Canada. Western Provinces. Vol. Population: Divisions and Subdivisions. Ottawa: Dominion Bureau of Statistics. 1967.
  18. ^ "Table 3: Population for census divisions and subdivisions, 1971 and 1976". 1976 Census of Canada. Census Divisions and Subdivisions, Western Provinces and the Territories. Vol. Population: Geographic Distributions. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. 1977.
  19. ^ "Table 2: Census Subdivisions in Alphabetical Order, Showing Population Rank, Canada, 1981". 1981 Census of Canada. Vol. Census subdivisions in decreasing population order. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. 1982. ISBN 0-660-51563-6.
  20. ^ "Table 2: Population and Dwelling Counts, for Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions, 1986 and 1991 – 100% Data". 91 Census. Vol. Population and Dwelling Counts – Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. 1992. pp. 100–108. ISBN 0-660-57115-3.
  21. ^ "Population and Dwelling Counts, for Canada, Provinces and Territories, and Census Divisions, 2001 and 1996 Censuses – 100% Data (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  22. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses – 100% data (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. January 6, 2010. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  23. ^ a b "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2016 and 2011 censuses – 100% data (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  24. ^ Marketing, BubbleUP. "Trapshooting". www.townofswanhills.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  25. ^ "Swan Hills Golf & Country Club". GolfAlberta.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  26. ^ "Swan Hills Minor Hockey Association - Home : Powered by RAMP Interactive". swanhillsminorhockey.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  27. ^ Marketing, BubbleUP. "Goose Mountain Ecological Reserve". www.townofswanhills.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  28. ^ "Alberta Parks Goose Mountain Information & Facilities". www.albertaparks.ca. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  29. ^ "E. S. Huestis Demonstration Forest". Woodlands County. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  30. ^ "Alberta Parks Trapper Lea's Cabin Trapper Leas Cabin". www.albertaparks.ca. Retrieved 2017-08-10.