Christina Lake (Alberta)

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Christina Lake
Location Wood Buffalo, Alberta
Coordinates 55°37′21″N 110°52′42″W / 55.62250°N 110.87833°W / 55.62250; -110.87833 (Christina Lake)Coordinates: 55°37′21″N 110°52′42″W / 55.62250°N 110.87833°W / 55.62250; -110.87833 (Christina Lake)
Primary inflows Sunday Creek, Birch Creek
Primary outflows Jackfish River
Catchment area 1,250 square kilometres (480 sq mi)
Basin countries Canada
Max. length 18 km (11 mi)
Max. width 2 km (1.2 mi)
Surface area 21.3 km2 (8.2 sq mi)
Average depth 17.3 m (57 ft)
Max. depth 32.9 m (108 ft)
Surface elevation 556 m (1,824 ft)
References [1]

Christina Lake (54°40'N 111°00'W) is an elongated lake in northern Alberta, Canada, located east of Conklin, between Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray, near Highway 881. Christina Lake and the Christina River are named to honour Christine Gordon, originally from Scotland, who was the first white woman to live permanently in the Fort McMurray area.[1][2][3][4]

Water and Watershed[edit]

The lake lies at an elevation of 556 m (1,824 ft) and has a total area of 21.3 km2 (8.2 sq mi). It has a mean depth of 17.3 m (57 ft) and reaches a maximum depth of 32.9 m (108 ft).[1] It is drained by the Jackfish River at its western end; the Jackfish River flows 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) before it empties into the Christina River, a tributary of the Clearwater River. Christina Lake has a drainage area of 1,250 square kilometres (480 sq mi). The Lake has 6 permanent inlets and 1 permanent outlet, the Jackfish River.

Lake History[edit]

Christina Lake and the Christina River were named to honour Christine Gordon, the first white woman to live permanently in the Fort McMurray area where she remained until she died in the 1940s. She was highly respected by the community, including the First Nations and Metis.[5] Gordon, partly from knowledge gleaned from a Scottish home nursing book, made her own treatments for illnesses and injuries. She could "splint a broken arm, lower a fever, and mix herbal remedies." By 1914 she owned and operated a post in Fort McMurray, in competition with the Hudson's Bay Company.[1][2][3][4]

The hamlet of Conklin was originally situated on the extreme northwestern end of Christina Lake, adjacent to the outlet to the Jackfish River. When the Northern Alberta Railways reached there in 1921, Conklin was relocated alongside the railway tracks.[5] Christina Lake was an important centre for the local fur trade from 1940 to 1960. Mink pelts from several mink farms in the area were transferred by canoe and dogsled to the railway siding.[5]

From 1940 to 1960 there was heavy commercial fishing in Christina Lake with a fish processing plant at the outlet to the Jackfish River.[5]

Forest Fires[edit]

The Lac la Biche Forest that surrounds some of Christina Lake experiences a higher-than-average number of lightning storms.[5]

Resource Management[edit]


There are small stands of conifers, mixed wood and pure aspen but most of the timber is not merchantable.[5]

Mineral Resources[edit]

There are important mineral resources within the Christina Lake area including natural gas which was already being extracted in 1991. The Christina Lake area has oil sands potential and falls within a portion of the Athabasca Oil Sands area.

Cenovus Energy has been operating its Christina Lake project since 2000. It is a steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) project in the Christina Lake area, tapping bitumen from the McMurray Formation.[6] Cenovus considers the Christina Lake project to be "top-tier", one of their "two industry-leading oil sands producing projects" with "huge potential for growth." Located about 120 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, Alberta, they started Christina Lake in 2000. The oil at Christina Lake is located about 375 metres below the surface and requires specialized technology, like steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) to drill and pump it to the surface.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Christina Lake". Atlas of Alberta Lakes. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta. 2004–2005. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Eric J. Holmgren; Patricia M. Holmgren. 2,000 Place-names of Alberta (3 ed.). Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Western Producer Prairie Books. 
  3. ^ a b "Fort McMurray Before the Hospital". The Catholic Mission: The South of the North Pioneers. Fort McMurray, Alberta: Heritage Park. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Irwin Huberman (2004). The Place We Call Home: A History of Fort McMurray As Its People Remember. Fort McMurray: Historical Book Society of Fort McMurray. p. 284. ISBN 0968933904. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Integrated Resource Plan - Christina Lake Management Plan (PDF) (Report). Land Use Planning. SRD Government of Alberta. 1991. 
  6. ^ "Operations - Oil - Christina Lake". Cenovus Energy. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  7. ^ Chris Mayda (8 August 2012). A Regional Geography of the United States and Canada: Toward a Sustainable Future. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 608.