Five Great Lifestyle Communities
|Here are some of Alberta’s choice places to live, work and play.|
Two and a half hours northwest of Edmonton, at the southeastern tip of Lesser Slave Lake, lies a town that runs at a slower pace.
The town of 7,031, where locals and visitors are steps away from the long white sand stretches of Devonshire Beach, the lush boreal forest and Marten Mountain Viewpoint, is arguably Alberta’s best-kept natural secret. Activities for the outdoorsy variety are never in short supply. Fishing, hiking, biking, off-roading, camping and recreational boating are among the pastimes supported by the region. And when the weather outside is frightful, activities don’t freeze up. Ice fishing from December to March attracts experienced anglers and curious newbies with the opportunity to catch (and maybe, release) a big Walleye, Northern Pike or Whitefish in the colder months.
Comforts of a slower lifestyle and recreational activities like these are contributors to the community’s growing tourism industry. But oil, gas and forestry industries that thrive on the resource richness of the area, in addition to spinoff industries like manufacturing, are significant players in the region’s growing economy. Read more >
Cochrane has a soft spot for Alberta’s western and ranching roots. It was named after Senator Matthew Henry Cochrane, a rancher who established the Cochrane Ranch in 1881. But the town’s economic base also includes other sectors of industry: construction, retail, oil and gas, tourism, technology and wood products manufacturing. The town of 15,524 has grown a full 22% since 2001, but its unhurried lifestyle still draws newcomers to the area in search of an alternative to the big city. If a trip to the big city is warranted, Calgary is less than a half-hour away.
Cochrane’s scenic draw stems from its geographical location, positioned at the base of the Big Hill in the Bow River Valley and in view of the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Parks in the area are also an attraction, like the day-use Big Hill Springs Provincial Park or the Ghost Reservoir Provincial Park just 10 minutes west on Highway 1A, lending the active an opportunity to wind surf, dive, fish or go boating.
Cochrane’s downtown district captures the province’s western heritage, but guest ranches such as Griffin Valley Ranch and Bar C guest ranch are available if a more secluded taste of the West is more appealing. Read more >
The town’s relaxed lifestyle and sense of community are among the top reasons residents choose to live in Pincher Creek. North of Waterton Lakes National Park, and nestled to the east of the Canadian Rockies, the gusty town is home to less than 4,000 residents.
Given the region’s location, prone to warm Chinook winds sent down the Rockies’ eastern mountainside, wind farms and turbines are somewhat prominent figures alongside the town’s landscape of water, mountains, rolling hills and prairie. But the natural environment isn’t just pretty look at – the region sees an abundance of recreational opportunities like boating, water-skiing, kite flying, skiing and hunting.
Agriculture and agribusiness are economic engines in the community as well as the region’s natural gas industry. Between Shell Canada and other companies, more than 75 producing wells exist in the Waterton gas field, south of Pincher Creek. The industry’s tourism industry is also gaining foot given the many tourist destinations such as the historic site of Lebel Mansion and Art Gallery, and the Three Rivers Rock & Fossil Museum. Read more >
The gateway to the Canadian Rockies and Jasper National park lying 280 kilometres west of Edmonton, isn’t just a service town for those places; it’s becoming a tourist destination in its own right. Hinton offers recreational activities year-round, including camping, golfing, fishing, hunting, skiing, snowshoeing and dogsledding. Adventurers in the area are invited to explore the elaborate and extensive network of trails in the Brule Sand Dunes, while Miette Hot Springs, with water temperatures around 40 C, beckons visitors to soak in the warmest, hot tub-like waters of the Rockies. The town’s five-kilometre Beaver Boardwalk, constructed by volunteers using funding and materials from various organizations, is a wooden pathway that winds through a beaver pond. This project, along with the town’s implementation of a public system to serve its 9,825 residents, has been a testament to Hinton’s vision to create a sustainable and enjoyable living community. Read more >
Fort Macleod is the cross-section between modernity and history. The small town of just over 3,000, richly infused with its history, has been designated one of Alberta’s historic sites where visitors, locals, and filmmakers – segments of Passchendaele and Brokeback Mountain were filmed here – can often step into the community’s past. Right in the historic downtown, a commercial business or office can potentially set up shop right next door to some of the turn-of the-20th-century buildings that are still intact today, such as Queen’s Hotel, established in 1903, the Reach Block in 1907 and Alberta’s oldest theatre, the Empress Theatre built in 1912.
At the junction of Highway 2 and 3, the town attracts visitors from all over Alberta. Although only one hour east of the Canadian Rockies and 30 minutes west of the City of Lethbridge, Fort Macleod’s rural and quiet roots are still the order of the town.
Located along the Oldman River, the River Valley Wilderness Park, where visitors trek the trails for birdwatching, biking and horseback riding, is just one of the many attractions here. It’s also southeast of one of North America’s oldest and largest buffalo jumps used by the Blackfoot of the plains, the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Read more >