|Town of Whitecourt|
Snowmobile Capital of Alberta
|Planning region||Upper Athabasca|
|Municipal district||Woodlands County|
|• Village||January 1, 1959|
|• New town||August 15, 1961|
|• Town||December 20, 1971|
|• Mayor||Tom Pickard|
|• Governing body|
Whitecourt Town Council
|• CAO||Peter Smyl|
|• MP||Arnold Viersen|
|• MLA||Martin Long|
|• Land||29.51 km2 (11.39 sq mi)|
|Elevation||690 m (2,260 ft)|
|• Density||336.4/km2 (871/sq mi)|
|• Estimate (2020)||10,234|
|Time zone||UTC−7 (MST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−6 (MDT)|
|Forward sortation area|
Whitecourt is a town in central Alberta, Canada that is surrounded by Woodlands County. It is approximately 177 km (110 mi) northwest of Edmonton and 279 km (173 mi) southeast of Grande Prairie at the junction of Highway 43 and Highway 32. It has an elevation of 690 m (2,260 ft).
Whitecourt is also located 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.
The Town has branded itself as the Snowmobile Capital of Alberta and its motto is Let's Go.... The Whitecourt meteor impact crater is found on nearby Whitecourt Mountain.
The community was formed in the place known by the Cree as Sagitawah (the place where the rivers meet). While the first Hudson's Bay Company trading post was established in 1897, the first permanent resident on the present day town site was John Goodwin, who settled here in 1905. In 1910, with the expansion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, immigrants were encouraged by Premier Arthur Lewis Sifton to settle in the vast scarcely inhabited area between Edmonton and the Peace River Country. The name "Whitecourt" was chosen in 1910 by Walter White, the postmaster of the young community. White was the son-in-law of former Kansas governor John W. Leedy who also settled in the community.
Whitecourt has three identifiable geographic components:
Whitecourt has 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.
|Climate data for Whitecourt, Alberta (1981-2010)|
|Record high humidex||16.5||17.6||18.5||27.1||32.8||33.8||37.7||44.2||33.4||28.1||22.5||27.3||44.2|
|Record high °C (°F)||16.9
|Average high °C (°F)||−6.4
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−11.2
|Average low °C (°F)||−15.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−41.5
|Record low wind chill||−51.0||−51.0||−46.0||−31.0||−14.0||−4.0||0.0||−3.0||−10.0||−33.0||−54.0||−49.0||−54.0|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||26.6
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||1.5
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||33.5
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||11.6||9.0||10.4||9.2||12.4||16.4||16.6||13.6||11.6||9.6||10.8||10.2||141.4|
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||0.89||0.89||1.7||5.3||11.6||16.4||16.6||13.6||11.2||6.6||1.8||0.85||87.43|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||11.5||8.6||9.6||4.8||1.7||0.04||0.0||0.0||0.73||3.9||9.7||9.8||60.37|
|Average relative humidity (%) (at 15:00 LST)||74.1||65.1||56.4||44.0||43.4||50.4||52.5||53.4||54.1||56.1||71.9||75.1||58.0|
|Source: Environment Canada|
|Source: Statistics Canada|
In 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 (11.39 sq mi), it had a population density of 336.4/km2 (871.3/sq mi) in 2021.
In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Whitecourt recorded a population of 10,204 living in 3,743 of its 4,253 total private dwellings, a 6.2% change from its 2011 population of 9,605. With a land area of 26.44 km2 (10.21 sq mi), it had a population density of 385.9/km2 (999.6/sq mi) in 2016.
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. According to Alberta's Municipal Government Act, a town is eligible for city status when it reaches 10,000 residents.
Whitecourt's economy is largely driven by three major industries – forestry, oil and gas industry and tourism. With some farm land to the south and east of Whitecourt, agriculture plays a minor role in the town's economy.
Whitecourt is the site of three forestry-related mills:
Due to Whitecourt and area's forestry heritage, the Canadian Forestry Association named Whitecourt and Woodlands County the "Forest Capital of Canada 2013".
Whitecourt is also home to many service companies in the oil and gas industry.
Attractions within Whitecourt include the Allan & Jean Millar Centre, Rotary Park, the Forest Interpretive Centre and Heritage Park, and a variety of other facilities and parks.
The Allan & Jean Millar Centre consists of both an aquatic facility, a fieldhouse, a fitness facility, a children's indoor playground area, and boardroom and classroom rental spaces. The aquatic facility comprises a main pool, a children's pool, a leisure pool, a lazy river, a water slide, a hot tub, and a steam room. The fieldhouse includes a configurable multi-sport area, a track, and racquetball and squash courts. The fitness centre provides cardio training equipment, weight training equipment, and a fitness studio. Overall, this recreation venue also provides a variety of programming including lessons, classes, and personal training.
Rotary 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. A splash park with 19 water features opened within Rotary Park in 2012.
The town also features several bike trails, as well as a professionally designed bike park.
The Forest Interpretive Centre includes a multi-media museum that presents the forestry industry's role in Whitecourt's history. It also features meeting rooms and hosts the local chamber of commerce, a tourist information centre, and town council meetings. The Forest Interpretive Centre's associated Heritage Park includes antique vehicles and farm equipment, a barn, and an interpretive trail among other features.
|Club||League||Sport||Venue||Years Active||League championships||Provincial championships|
|Whitecourt Wolverines||Ice hockey||Scott Safety Centre|
|Whitecourt Wolverines||Ice hockey||Scott Safety Centre|
Travis Roche and Rocky Thompson are current and former professional hockey players that were raised in Whitecourt. Roche played 60 games in the National Hockey League (NHL) between the Minnesota Wild and Phoenix Coyotes and now plays for SC Bern in Switzerland's National League A. He has represented Team Canada at the Spengler Cup on numerous occasions, winning gold at the 2012 tournament. Thompson played 25 games in the NHL between the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers and was an assistant coach for the Edmonton Oilers in the National Hockey League.
Normand Lacombe is the strength and conditioning coach for the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), and was the head coach of the predecessor Wolverines of the North West Junior Hockey League prior to the AJHL's arrival. Lacombe played 319 games in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers, winning the Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1988.
Whitecourt Town Council consists of a mayor and six councillors that were elected in the 2017 municipal election. The current members of town council are Mayor Maryann Chichak and councillors Paul Chauvet, Matt Connell, Ray Hilts, Bill McAree, Tom Pickard, and Derek Schlosser. The town's chief administrative officer is Peter Smyl.
The Northern Gateway Public Schools division office is located in Whitecourt. The school division is responsible for public schools within the geography comprising Lac Ste. Anne County and portions of Woodlands County and the Municipal District of Greenview No. 16, including the towns of Fox Creek, Mayerthorpe, Onoway and Valleyview in addition to Whitecourt.
Whitecourt is located within the Whitecourt-Ste. Anne provincial electoral district, which is represented by Oneil Carlier of the Alberta New Democratic Party. Progressive Conservative George VanderBurg was a four-term MLA for the district until 2015. A resident of Whitecourt, VanderBurg was a businessman and the mayor of the town for nine years prior to his entry into provincial politics.
At the federal level, Whitecourt is located within the Yellowhead electoral district, which is represented by Conservative Jim Eglinski. Conservative Rob Merrifield was a four-term MP for the district until 2014. Merrifield is a resident of Whitecourt and a farmer. In the next federal election, Whitecourt will be part of the newly formed riding of Peace River—Westlock.
Other former politicians who lived in Whitecourt include Raj Pannu, Allen Sulatycky and Rod Fox. Pannu, former MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona and former leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party, taught high school in Whitecourt between 1962 and 1964. Sulatycky, judge and former MP for Rocky Mountain, was a lawyer and was elected the first Liberal to represent Whitecourt's constituency in 1968. Fox, former Wildrose Party MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, was born and raised in Whitecourt.
Acute and non-acute medical care is provided at the Whitecourt Healthcare Centre.
The full air-service Whitecourt Airport is located west of Whitecourt on the north side of Highway 32, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Highway 43. It is Alberta's ninth busiest airport with up to 32,000 aircraft using the airport annually. The airstrip is 5,800 ft (1,800 m) in length and 100 ft (30 m) wide and can accommodate 737 jets. Numerous carriers offer scheduled charter flights out of the airport.
Red Arrow and Northern Express offer service to Edmonton and Grande Prairie.
The CN Sangudo Subdivision provides rail service through Whitecourt from Edmonton to numerous gas plants south of Fox Creek. The Millar Western Sawmill / Pulp Mill and the Alberta Newsprint Company Pulp & Paper Mill are both served by rail.
The Town of Whitecourt is served by two highways. Highway 43, which is part of the CANAMEX Corridor, is a twinned highway that provides connection to Edmonton to the southeast and Grande Prairie to the northwest.
Highway 32 provides Whitecourt with a direct link to the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) to the south, which connects the town to Edson and Hinton to the southwest. Another segment of Highway 32 begins approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) northwest of the town, providing a link from Highway 43 to Swan Hills and Slave Lake.
Numerous local roads provide connections from Whitecourt to surrounding rural areas within Woodlands County. Within the McLeod River valley, Govenlock Road feeds two rural roads – West Mountain Road (Range Road 122) and Tower Road (Range Road 121A) – that provide access to numerous country residential subdivisions and some agricultural operations to the south.
Within the Athabasca River valley, Flats Road (Township Road 600), which exits the town following its northern boundary, serves numerous agricultural operations to the east.
On the Hilltop, 41 Avenue (Township Road 594A), which was the original highway alignment into Whitecourt, exits the town eastbound for the Hamlet of Blue Ridge. This road is commonly referred to as Blue Ridge Road.
Whitecourt is served by two weekly papers, the Sun Media owned Whitecourt Star, the independent Whitecourt Press, and the monthly Community Advisor.
Two FM radio stations broadcast from Whitecourt. 'Boom 96.7 (FM 96.7, CFXW-FM) and XM 105 (FM 105.3, CIXM-FM) broadcast classic hits and contemporary country formats respectively.
Whitecourt has been twinned with Yūbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan, since 1998.