La Loche, Saskatchewan

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La Loche
Northern village[1]
La Loche scene in 1918
La Loche scene in 1918
La Loche is located in Saskatchewan
La Loche
La Loche
Location of La Loche in Saskatchewan
Coordinates: 56°29′N 109°26′W / 56.483°N 109.433°W / 56.483; -109.433
Country  Canada
Province  Saskatchewan
H.B.C. post 1810
Parish established 1860
Post Office founded 1926
 • Mayor Georgina Jolibois
 • Town Manager Doug Gailey
 • Governing body La Loche Town Council
 • MLA Athabasca Buckley Belanger
 • MP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River Rob Clarke
 • Total 15.59 km2 (6.02 sq mi)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 2,611
 • Metro density 167.5/km2 (434/sq mi)
Time zone Central Standard Time (UTC−6)
Postal code S0M 1G0
Highways Hwy 155 / Hwy 955 / Hwy 956

La Loche is a northern village in northwest Saskatchewan. It is located on Highway 155 on the eastern shore of Lac La Loche in Canada's boreal forest. It is located within the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District.[6]

Bordering La Loche to the north and reached via Highway 955 is the Clearwater River Dene Nation with a population of 778 people. Together with the 2,611 residents of La Loche, the area holds about 30 percent of the Dene Suline speakers of Canada. The Denesuline language is spoken by 89% of the residents.[7]

The Northern Hamlet of Black Point lies on the southern shore of the lake and is accessible via the Garson Lake Road Highway 956. This road ends in Garson Lake. From there a winter road is built every year to Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Located on the northern end of Lac La Loche is the Methye Portage or Portage La Loche. At Rendezvous Lake on the 19 kilometre portage the fur brigades would meet every year and exchange trade goods for furs. Brigades such as the Portage La Loche Brigade from Fort Garry came from the south while the Athabasca and Mackenzie brigades came from the north. The furs were then brought to York Factory on the Hudson Bay for shipment to England.

This portage to the Clearwater River was in use for more than a century during the fur trade. It is now part of the Clearwater River Provincial Park and a National Historic Site.[8] The Clearwater River is also a Canadian Heritage River.


Fur trade posts were built on Lac La Loche soon after Peter Pond came through the Methye Portage in 1778.[9] The Atlas of Canada [10] shows four post of the North West Company beginning in 1780 to 1819 and three posts of the Hudson's Bay Company beginning in 1819.

Another map by the archaeologist Don Steer in 1972[11] shows the locations and the dates of seven of these posts. North West Company posts were located on the large peninsula called 'Big Point' (circa 1789-91) and on the south west side of the lake (1819–21). A Hudson's Bay post was located at the mouth of the portage in 1810. Transportation depots were located at each end of the portage from the 1850s to 1880s. In 1857 the depot on the south end of the Portage included a permanent trading post. This post moved to West La Loche from the 1870s to 1936. In 1936 the West La Loche post burned down and the HBC relocated their post at La Loche in the newly purchased Revillon Freres buildings where they remained until they sold their northern stores in 1987. The Revillon Freres post had been in La Loche since 1906.[12]

Missionary priests have been coming to La Loche since 1845. In 1860 the separate La Loche Mission of Notre Dame de la Visitation was established. Father Penard o.m.i. (the first resident priest of La Loche from 1895 to 1917) wrote in 1895 that the population of La Loche at the Mission was around 100 people and the population at the fort in West La Loche (six miles from the Portage) was 60 to 70 people.[13] In 1911 he writes that La Loche has 200 people with another 80 to 100 people living in two communities across the lake.[14] He adds that during the autumn of 1911 most residents left for winter camps to the north to hunt leaving only 60 or 70 people around the lake.

In 1922 Father J.B. Ducharme o.m.i. writes that there are 500 people in the La Loche Mission area.[15] The Mission included other communities such as Bull's House (at the end of the La Loche River), Turnor Lake, Descharme Lake and Garson Lake.

In the 1940s a convent was built for the Grey Nuns (now a private residence) along with the first hospital and the first school of the community. In 1953 a new Roman Catholic Mission church which is still in use was constructed.

The first road (Highway 155) reached La Loche in 1963. Water/sewer and electricity became available to most homes in 1974. Direct dial telephone came in 1974, television in 1976, a skating arena in 1978. In 1979 a new high school was opened, Highway 955 to the Cluff Lake uranium mine site was completed and the Clearwater River Dene Nation was officially created.

Historic map[edit]

John Franklin's 1819-20 expedition map of the Lac La Loche (Methye Lake) area.

This section of John Franklin's 1819-20 expedition map shows the fur trade route from Peter Pond Lake, up the La Loche River (Methye River), across Lac La Loche (Methye Lake), across the Portage to the west flowing Clearwater River then north up the Athabasca River. Early trading posts of the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company are shown on the south west side of Lac La Loche.

In 1820 George Back while travelling through with Franklin's expedition stopped at Lac La Loche House (the HBC trading post).The HBC Post he wrote were "logs piled one above the other with mud and moss to fill up the crevices- there is a single partition which divides the Master's room from that of the men.-the former has half a roof to it-some parchment windows make up the whole-" The NWC Post was "a square and flat roofed hut just seven feet high-neither wind nor weather tight in which are stowed-Master, men, women, children, dogs and sledges-". On his return in 1822 Back wrote in his journal; "We touched at the houses on the borders of the lake and embarked a man in each canoe".[16] This is an early indication of settlement on Lac La Loche.


The La Loche Population Centre has a population of 3,389 in two adjoining communities. These two communities and their 2011 Canada Census population are: La Loche (northern village) with 2,611 residents and the Clearwater River Dene Nation with 778 residents.[20]

Uptown La Loche from Marie Street
Canada Day Parade 2008
Ice break-up on Lac La Loche May 13, 2013
La Loche Arena
La Loche Hospital
R.C.Mission Church La Loche
La Loche Cemetery

Sister city


The La Loche Arena Complex houses the Robbie Fontaine Memorial Arena, a meeting hall, the local radio station CHPN-FM, activity rooms and offices.

The Dave O'Hara Public Library at Ducharme School offers internet access.

The La Loche Friendship Centre and the La Loche Sport, Recreation and Culture Board organize many of the activities and festivals that occur every year and are working together on the development of a community recreation area which now offers a skateboard park, a children's playground and an outdoor skating rink.

The week long "Yanessa Days Festival", the "La Loche Long Sun Run" and the Canada Day celebrations are a few of the popular yearly events.


Our Lady of the Visitation Roman Catholic Church has regular services (10:30 a.m. on Sundays) and is part of the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.[21]

Clearwater River Ministries offers Sunday services and gospel studies.


La Loche Community School consists of two buildings (The Ducharme Building and the Dene Building). The Ducharme Building offers the Pre-K to 6 program while the Dene Building delivers the 7 to 12 program. The school has an enrollment of over 900 students. The school is a provincial school and is part of Northern Lights School Division #113. The first school of La Loche was built in 1941 and was called the Community Day School. In 1942 it had an enrollment of 23.

Clearwater River Dene School at Clearwater River is a K-12 school with an enrollment of 200.

The Gabriel Dumont Institute offers adult basic education and skills training.


La Loche has an active business community that serves the growing population and the mining companies exploring north of the community.

Air services are provided by the La Loche Airport and the La Loche Water Aerodrome. The Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) offers bus service from Prince Albert for passengers and freight. The Canada Post office receives mail five times a week.

The La Loche detachment of the RCMP and the La Loche Volunteer Fire Department serve La Loche and nearby communities.


The Northern Village of La Loche provides water and sewer service, garbage pick-up, road maintenance, snow removal and through CHPN Communications local radio and cable television services (over 40 channels are available). SaskPower provides electricity and SaskTel provides telephone, 911 emergency service and internet services (including high speed service). Methy Construction and Maintenance Corporation owned by the northern village offers commercial and residential property development and construction and contracting for heavy equipment.

Health care[edit]

The La Loche Hospital serves a regional population of approximately 4,000 people and is part of the Keewatin Yatthé Regional Health Authority. Ambulance services are available as is a 911 call service for emergencies. A pharmacy is centrally located.

The Armand Bekkattla Treatment Centre is located at the Clearwater River Dene Nation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Search for Municipal Information". Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  2. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". Statistics Canada. Government of Canada. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ National Archives, Archivia Net. "Post Offices and Postmasters". Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  4. ^ Government of Saskatchewan, MRD Home. "Municipal Directory System". Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
  5. ^ Commissioner of Canada Elections, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (2005). "Elections Canada On-line". Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  6. ^ "Types of Municipalities". Saskatchewan Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  7. ^ "History of La Loche (La Loche 2011)". 2012-11-15. 
  8. ^ "Parks Canada (Methye Portage National Historic Event)". Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  9. ^ "ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SASKATCHEWAN (list of forts in Northern Saskatchewan)". Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  10. ^ "Natural Resources Canada (The Atlas of Canada)". Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  11. ^ "Our Legacy (Map of Methye Portage Region)". Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  12. ^ "History of La Loche (Timeline)". 2012-10-10. 
  13. ^ "Peel's Prairie Provinces (Peel 7848)". 2012-10-10. 
  14. ^ "Peel's Prairie Provinces (Peel 8059)". 2012-10-10. 
  15. ^ "Peel's Prairie Provinces (Peel 8173)". 2012-10-10. 
  16. ^ Houston, Stuart (1994-10-25). Arctic Artist: The Journal and Paintings of George Back, Midshipman with Franklin, 1819-1822. McGill-Queens. p. 207. 
  17. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". Canada 2011 Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  18. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  19. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". Canada 2001 Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  20. ^ "Statistics Canada". 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  21. ^ Adamson, Julia (16 February 2013). "Saskatchewan Roman Catholic Churches ~ Online Parish Registers ~ History". Saskatchewan Gen Web. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°29′N 109°26′W / 56.483°N 109.433°W / 56.483; -109.433