|City of Fort Saskatchewan|
Fort Saskatchewan City Hall and Public Library in December, 2016
Gotta Love It!
Location with Strathcona County
|Region||Edmonton Metropolitan Region|
|• Village||March 1, 1899|
|• Town||July 1, 1904|
|• City||July 1, 1985|
|Named for||North Saskatchewan River|
|• Mayor||Gale Katchur|
|• Governing body|
|• Manager||Troy Fleming|
|• MP||Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan-Conservative)|
|• MLA||Jackie Armstrong Homeniuk (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville-UCP)|
|• Land||48.18 km2 (18.60 sq mi)|
|Elevation||610 m (2,000 ft)|
|• Density||501.3/km2 (1,298/sq mi)|
|• Municipal census (2019)||26,942|
|Time zone||UTC−7 (MST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−6 (MDT)|
|Forward sortation area|
|Waterways||North Saskatchewan River|
|Public Transit Service||Fort Sask Transit|
Fort Saskatchewan is a city in Alberta, Canada. It is located 25 kilometres (16 mi) northeast of Edmonton, Alberta's capital city, along the North Saskatchewan River. Fort Saskatchewan is part of the Edmonton census metropolitan area and is one of 24 municipalities that constitute the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board (EMRB). Fort Saskatchewan's population in the 2016 federal census was 24,149. Its population has since increased to 26,942 according to the city's 2019 municipal census.
The city was founded as a North-West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.) fort, and was later home to a large provincial gaol; the city prides itself on its "law and order" history. The original fort was located across the river from the hamlet of Lamoureux, and in recent years the city has constructed a replica fort next to the original site. Fort Saskatchewan is bordered by Strathcona County to the south and east, Sturgeon County to the north and west, and the City of Edmonton to the southwest. Sturgeon County is across the North Saskatchewan River.
The city is most well known for its proximity to petrochemical facilities, including Dow Chemical, Sherritt International, Nutrien (formerly Agrium), and Shell Canada. It is also known for its flock of 50 sheep that roam the Fort Heritage Precinct throughout the summer months eating the grass. The city mascot is a sheep named Auggie.
Pre-colonization and founding
Prior to colonization, the area around what is now Fort Saskatchewan was a gathering place and home to a variety of different Indigenous nations, including the Cree (Néhinaw) and Nakota nations. The Indigenous peoples of the region commonly traveled the North Saskatchewan River by Canoe. The mouth of the Sturgeon River, located near modern-day Fort Saskatchewan's industrial business park, was an ideal location to gather the materials necessary to construct canoes. The Indigenous peoples of the region named the area surrounding modern-day Fort Saskatchewan "Birch Hills", because Birch bark was an important component in Canoe making.
In 1875, under the command of Inspector William D. Jarvis, the North-West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P) established Sturgeon Creek Post as a fort on the North Saskatchewan River. The post was soon renamed "Fort (on the) Saskatchewan", and it became a key northern police garrison. The community was incorporated as a village in 1899, a town in 1904, and a city in 1985.
Arrival of the railway
Prior to the arrival of the railway, people travelling to and from Edmonton had to traverse a dirt trail that wound around woods and swamps. The Canadian Northern Railway (C.N.R.) reached Fort Saskatchewan in 1905, placing the town on a transcontinental rail line. The C.N.R. station is a modified third class station design (100-19 plan), which is a "special station" that was only used by C.N.R. at the most significant stops along their line. It is longer than other third class stations built by C.N.R. and has several unique features, including hip roofs on either side of the building, and a large interior that contains a vestibule, a kitchen, a living room, a large general waiting room, a separate waiting room for women, an office, and a small freight shed. An addition was built on the west side of the station in 1911; a sign of the growth in population and rail traffic that Fort Saskatchewan experienced. It is the only surviving model 100-19 railway station in Alberta.
The first bridge across the river was also built at this time; the rail company paying for it in exchange for free land for its station in Fort Saskatchewan. Prior to the bridge, the only method to cross the river at Fort Saskatchewan was via ferry. In the decade after the railway arrived, the town's population nearly doubled to 993. In 1913, a fire swept through a large portion of the city's business section, destroying $24,000 worth of buildings (roughly $550,000 in 2020).
The Provincial Gaol
A new $200,000 provincial gaol (roughly $4.5 million in 2020) opened in 1915 on the site of the old fort to replace the 34-cell guard house that had been used to hold prisoners since the N.W.M.P. fort was constructed in 1875. The fort was demolished to make room for the prison. There were various additions to the jail throughout the next 70 years, including the construction of more cell blocks, a gymnasium, a stand-alone power plant, and carpentry, auto body, and licence plate shops. The prison grew food for inmates on a 324 hectare farm. Although the prison was mainly used to house people awaiting trial or serving sentences of under two years, 29 prisoners were hanged on-site between 1914 and 1960. By 1973, the jail employed 220 residents and housed 300 male and female offenders.
On January 19th, 1955, 24 hours after the chief guard and two other guards were dismissed, 96 inmates rioted in the prison dining room, led by 12 ringleaders who barricaded themselves in the prison's bakery. Dishes and furniture were thrown about and smashed, and a store room in the bakery was destroyed by fire after the ring leaders torched clothing, boots, and other supplies that they found. Prisoners in a cell block believed to contain rioters shouted phrases such as "Get the story straight" to nearby reporters. They claimed that they rioted because of the food at the gaol. The fire was doused by the local fire department, and the riot was put down by 50 R.C.M.P. officers from Edmonton, who were armed with tear gas and smoke grenades. After the ring leaders were pulled from the Bakery, they were returned to their cells. The prison has previously seen an inmate sit-down in October 1950, and a small disturbance in March 1949, but this was the most significant act of aggression by inmates that the prison had seen to date. The riot caused $10,000 worth of damage (approximately $97,000 in 2020).
The jail was replaced in 1988 when a new provincial correctional centre, which houses 546 inmates, was built south of Highway 15 on 101st Street. The jail cell blocks were demolished in 1994. The Warden's House is the only remaining structure linked to the old gaol; the last building on the actual prison grounds, the facility workshop, was demolished in 2014.. The Warden's House was symbolically constructed on city grounds near the prison, rather than on the prison grounds themselves. This was meant to provide convenient access to the prison for the Warden while normalizing life for the Warden's wife and children; recognizing his duel role as Warden, and as father/husband.
Expansion and development
In 1952, Sherritt Gordon Mines started construction on a $25-million nickel refinery in Fort Saskatchewan, which started production in 1954. Following Sherritt Gordon's locating in Fort Saskatchewan, more industries constructed plants in the town. Between 1951 and 1956, the town's population doubled from 1,076 to 2,582. Dow Chemical acquired 700 acres in Fort Saskatchewan in 1959, opening its plant in 1961 and further expanding it in 1967. Within five years of beginning operation at Dow, the population increased to 4,152 in 1966, from 2,972 in 1961.
On August 2nd, 1978, as part of a Royal tour during the XI Commonwealth Games, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip arrived in Fort Saskatchewan from Vegreville via a special train. The Royal couple met with then-Premier Lougheed on the platform of the C.N. station, gave a speech to local residents at a nearby park, and then traveled to Edmonton in a limousine. In 1980, the Town of Fort Saskatchewan elected Muriel Abdurahman (1938-2013), previously a town councillor, as its first female Mayor. This was especially significant given the male-dominated nature of Albertan society at the time. Abdurahman was elected for a second term in 1983, and she became the first Mayor of the City of Fort Saskatchewan after it gained official city status in 1985. She later resigned as Mayor to pursue a career in provincial politics, and she was succeeded by Pryce Alderson.
On January 1, 2020, the city annexed 952 hectares of land from Strathcona County. The land is mainly located south of the city's old boundaries. Fort Saskatchewan had originally requested 2,000 hectares from Strathcona County, including industrial land to the north, but the county refused to include this additional land in the final deal.
Since Fort Saskatchewan was incorporated as a town in 1904, it has had 30 residents serve as its mayor.
|Climate data for Fort Saskatchewan|
|Record high °C (°F)||10.0
|Average high °C (°F)||−6.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−11.9
|Average low °C (°F)||−17.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−45.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||24.0
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||0.6
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||23.4
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||6.6||5||4.3||6.3||10.2||13.3||14.2||13.5||10.2||6.8||6.4||5.9||102.6|
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||0.14||0.21||0.66||5.1||10.1||13.3||14.2||13.5||10.2||6||1.5||0.18||75|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||6.5||4.8||3.7||1.5||0.35||0||0||0||0.07||1||4.9||5.8||28.6|
|Source #1: Environment Canada|
|Source #2: Precipitation Days Only|
Fort Saskatchewan is divided into seven residential neighbourhoods and two industrial parks:
- Clover Park
- Eastgate Business Park
- Industrial Business Park
|Sources: Statistics Canada and |
City of Fort Saskatchewan
The population of the City of Fort Saskatchewan according to its 2019 municipal census is 26,942, a change of 2.3% from its 2018 municipal census population of 26,328. In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the City of Fort Saskatchewan recorded a population of 24,149 living in 9,261 of its 9,939 total private dwellings, a change of 26.8% from its 2011 population of 19,051. With a land area of 48.18 km2 (18.60 sq mi), it had a population density of 501.2/km2 (1,298.2/sq mi) in 2016.
According to the 2016 census, the largest visible minority populations in the community are Filipino with 535 residents, followed by South Asian with 350 residents. 1,390 residents identified as Aboriginal in 2016: 415 as First Nations, 965 as Métis, and 15 as Inuk (Inuit). 15 residents also claimed multiple Aboriginal identities, bringing the total number of Aboriginal identity claims to 1,410. Regarding the official languages of Canada, 22,160 residents are proficient only in English, 15 are only proficient in French, 1,385 residents are bilingual, and 60 residents are not proficient in either official language. The top three areas of employment are: "Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations" (3,140 residents), "sales and service occupations" (2,685), and "business, finance and administration occupations" (1,915 residents). The top three levels of education are: Post secondary certificate, diploma or degree (10,420 residents), secondary (high) school diploma or equivalency certificate (5,735 residents), and college, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma (4,565 residents).
In the 2011 Census, the City of Fort Saskatchewan had a population of 19,051 living in 7,333 of its 8,109 total dwellings, a change of 27.4% from its 2006 population of 14,957. With a land area of 48.12 km2 (18.58 sq mi), it had a population density of 395.9/km2 (1,025.4/sq mi) in 2011. Residents work mostly in trades (2,130), retail (1,840) or business/finance (1,575).
According to the 2006 census, the largest visible minorities in the community were Chinese with 95 residents followed by Filipino with 55 residents. English was the first language of 91.7% of the population. French (2.2%) was the second most common first language.
Fort Saskatchewan's main industries are commercial and heavy industry. Fort Saskatchewan is part of Alberta's Industrial Heartland, the largest Canadian industrial area west of Toronto. Companies with operations in the area include Dow Chemical, Sherritt International, Nutrien (formerly Agrium) and Shell Canada. These plants are major employers for residents of Fort Saskatchewan and the surrounding area.
With the city's growth in recent years, the commercial service sector has also grown. Multi-national corporations with stores in Fort Saskatchewan include Wal-Mart and The Home Depot, with Canadian Tire, Safeway, Federated CO-OP, and Freson Bros. acting as some of the other major employers.
Fort Station Mall
The original Fort Mall was located on a 12-acre parcel on the east side of downtown, and contained 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2) of retail space. In February 2003, a new purchaser promised renovations, but the opening of nearby larger Cornerstone Mall that year only worsened the mall's situation. The planned renovations were never completed, and a new owner came in and in 2007 proposed to demolish part of the mall to construct apartments or condominiums. Foreclosure proceedings began in 2008, and the mall was listed for judicial sale. The initial asking price was $8 million, and a $4 million bid from the city in the fall of 2009 was rejected. In February 2010, the mall was relisted for sale at $5 million, and a $4.35 million offer accepted by the court in April.
On September 15th, 2015, Haro Developments opened phase one of its redevelopment of the site, which it renamed Fort Station Mall. The majority of the old mall was demolished and replaced with outward-facing commercial units. The site, which is still under development, is now home to a mix of retail, commercial, and residential units. Commercial tenants include a cannabis shop, a restaurant, a gym, a daycare, and a walk-in clinic that includes a pharmacy. Future plans for development include the construction of additional commercial units, apartments, and an assisted-living facility for seniors. A recent report commissioned by the City of Fort Saskatchewan noted: "As of 2019, there is another phase of the site, yet to be redeveloped, but the project continues to progress towards completion." 
The centerpiece of Fort Saskatchewan's recreation and culture is the Dow Centennial Centre (DCC), a multi-use facility that includes an ice arena, gymnasium, field house, indoor track and fitness centre. The facility, which opened in September 2004, also features a 550-seat performing arts theatre, a permanent art gallery with monthly shows, a banquet hall and the local Pottery Guild.
The city also has two other indoor ice arenas: the Jubilee Recreation Centre and the Sportsplex, that are used during the winter months by hockey, ringette and figure skating associations. In the summer months, the lacrosse association uses them. Fort Saskatchewan also has the Harbour Pool, which is an indoor swimming pool that includes a hot tub, sauna and slide. The city recently opened Taurus Field: A FIFA-certified artificial turf field for soccer and football matches. It features seating for more than 1000 people, a press box, four large dressing rooms, and lights surrounding the field.
There is one nine-hole golf course located within the city's boundaries with three others nearby. The city's west end features a boat launch into the North Saskatchewan River, called Red Coat Landing, and a provincially preserved natural area, called the Fort Saskatchewan Prairie. The Elk Island National Park, which is famous for its bison, is located southeast of the city.
Over 19 km (12 mi) of paved trails wind through the river valley and the city's parks, including Legacy Park, which is the city's main gathering place and hosts festivals in the summer. A pedestrian bridge is currently being built across the North Saskatchewan River to connect Fort Saskatchewan's trail network to Sturgeon County's trails. This is part of the Trans Canada Trail network. Fort Saskatchewan's trail network consists of ten routes that are connected, and overlap in some areas:
- Alderson Loop - 3.3 km
- Bridgeview Trail - 0.9 km
- Chabot Park Link - 1.9 km
- Heritage Precinct Loop - 1.2 km
- North 10K - 10.1 km
- Pineview Loop - 6.6 km
- Ross Creek Trail - 2.1 km
- South 10K - 9.9 km
- Turner Park Trail - 1.1 km
- West River's Edge (WRE) Loop - 5.1 km
The Fort Saskatchewan Museum (c. 1909) is on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. The museum, which is located in the city's Fort Heritage Precinct near Legacy Park, features a red brick courthouse, a historic school, church and house that were relocated to the site from their respective locations around the region. It also features a full-scale replica of the original Northwest Mounted Police fort which can be explored in the museum's guided tours. The replica fort was constructed beside the site of the original fort to preserve the original site's archaeological integrity. The city has placed six sets of wooden markers to show the position of the original fort: One marker is at each of the four corners where the wall once stood, and two sets of markers indicate the positions of the original East and West gates (which provided access to the settlement and to the river respectively).
Every May, the Historical Society hosts a two-day event called "The Peoples of the North Saskatchewan." This event allows local students to experience what life was like for residents in the early days of settlement. Activities include butter making, tug-of-war, and weaving. There are also opportunities to learn about Indigenous cultures, and students are able to ride a replica Red River Cart. Fort Saskatchewan is served by the Fort Saskatchewan Public Library located on 102 Street, in the same building as City Hall. The city is also home to a local theatre group, called The Sheeptown Players Drama Society, which regularly performs throughout the community.
The Pyramid Corp. Hawks of the Capital Junior Hockey League play out of the Jubilee Recreation Centre.. The Fort Saskatchewan Traders, of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, were long a part of the city. After the 2006-07 season, the team relocated to St. Albert and was renamed the St. Albert Steel.
Fort Saskatchewan is home to Heartland Roller Derby Association, the first flat track roller derby league in the city. HRDA was formed in 2016.
Fort Saskatchewan has a youth sports association for hockey, soccer (indoor and outdoor), baseball, ringette, indoor lacrosse, figure skating, as well as sports associations for cross-country skiing and swimming.
The city launched a pilot transit service on April 26, 2014, with prices being introduced a few days later, at the beginning of May. The success of pilot program demonstrated that there was demand for local transit, and the city launched its full transit service, named Fort Sask Transit, in September, 2016. It originally consisted of two routes: Route 582 (The "Blue Route"), and Route 583 (The "Red Route"). Since then, the city has launched a specialized semiweekly route for seniors (Route 584/The "Green Route"), purchased an electric bus, constructed a park-and-ride, and joined the Regional Transit Services Commission. Its membership in the Commission is subject to another vote once its cost model is altered to reflect Strathcona County's refusal to join. Membership in the Commission would allow for weekend transit service in Fort Saskatchewan, and add bus services to Sherwood Park, NAIT, and the West Edmonton Mall.
Fort Saskatchewan has one hospital—the 38 bed Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital. It was opened in 2012 to replace the city's aging health center. It is attached to a new health facility that offers services that provides home care, mental health services, rehabilitation services, community health, and child and family services.
The city also has a 58-bed, public-operated, supportive-living seniors lodge, called Dr. Turner Lodge. Southfort Bend, a privately operated facility, also has supportive living for seniors. The lone assisted-living facility in Fort Saskatchewan, the Rivercrest Care Centre, is also home to a hospice.
Fort Saskatchewan is home to the Fort Air Partnership (FAP), a non-profit organization that monitors the air quality of the 4,500 square kilometer airshed located immediately north and east of Edmonton. FAP maintains 10 continuous monitoring stations, three of which are located in Fort Saskatchewan, and 47 passive monitoring stations. Their live data is available on their website 24 hours a day.
Fort Saskatchewan is served by an RCMP detachment which is part of Alberta 'K' division. In 2015, the detachment moved into a brand new 55,000-square-foot station which is roughly ten times larger than their previous station, and also houses the city's protective services and municipal enforcement personnel. A local police official predicted that the new location, which provides direct access to Highway 21, would allow officers to cut emergency response times by 60-90 seconds. The station also features a boardroom that local organizations are able to use. The Families First Society, a local not-for-profit resource center for families, parents, and children, moved into the old police station in April 2016.
The Fort Saskatchewan Fire Department (est. 1906), based at the Walter Thomas Fire Station, is staffed by paid volunteers and 12 full-time firefighters. The full-time firefighters rotate between a 10-hour day shift and a 14-hour night shift. The full-time staffing model was first introduced in early 2020. Prior to its introduction, the fire station was vacant after 5:30 PM daily, and paid on-call volunteers would have to go to the station from wherever they were before they could respond to an emergency. The introduction of full-time staff has reduced response times from up to 15 minutes, to a standard of 105 seconds. New sleeping quarters were constructed at the fire station to accommodate the full-time staff.
The city purchased property for a second fire station in 2017, reflecting the increase in call volumes coming from its newer neighbourhoods.
Fort Saskatchewan was also home to Canada's longest serving firefighter: Walter Thomas (1922-2017). Walter joined the department on May 1, 1947, and served until May 2017, a few months before he passed away. Walter's last position in the department was as its official historian.
Fort Saskatchewan's residents separate their household waste into three categories: Organic waste is put into green bins, garbage is picked up in black bins, and recycling is collected in blue bags. The three-stream system was introduced in June 2018, after a successful pilot program. Garbage is collected bi-weekly, organics are collected weekly or bi-weekly depending on the time of year, and recycling is collected weekly. All three waste streams are collected by a contracted company. Blue bins were used for recycling in the pilot program, but the city reverted to blue bags when launching the new waste system city-wide. This was because objects could get jammed in the blue bins, and crews could not easily tell if the loads inside blue bins were contaminated like they could with blue bags. Prior to the introduction of this system, the municipality contracted out collection of garbage and recycling only; recycling was collected in blue bags, but garbage cans were not regulated by the city.
Fort Saskatchewan is directly governed by a city council consisting of one mayor and six councillors. Municipal elections occur every four years on the third Monday in October. The last election was held on October 16, 2017 where Gale Katchur was re-elected for a third term as mayor. The mayor is elected separately from the councillors, who are elected at-large (as opposed to the ward system).
Fort Saskatchewan currently has no post-secondary schools that are open to the public, but its corrections centre partners with NorQuest College to provide academic upgrading, personal development courses, and employment training courses to inmates. Most residents commute or move into Edmonton to attend post-secondary classes at the University of Alberta, MacEwan University, or Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Fort Saskatchewan's schools are governed by two different school boards—Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) and Elk Island Catholic Schools (EICS). Both school boards have their head offices located in Sherwood Park. Fort Saskatchewan's elected trustees on the EIPS board are Heather Wall and Harvey Stadnick. Al Stewart is the lone Fort Saskatchewan trustee on the EICS board.
- Elementary Schools
- École Parc Élémentaire (K-6)
- Fort Saskatchewan Christian School (Grades K-9)
- Fort Saskatchewan Elementary School (Grades K-6)
- James Mowat Elementary School (Grades K-6)
- Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School (Grades K-4)
- Saint John XXIII Catholic School (Grades K-4)
- Southpointe School (Grades K-8)
- Win Ferguson Community School (Grades K-6)
- Junior High Schools
- Fort Saskatchewan Christian School (Grades K-9)
- Rudolph Hennig Junior High (7-9)
- St. John Paul II Catholic School (5-8)
- High Schools
- Fort Saskatchewan High School (Grades 10-12)
- Next Step Senior High School (Grades 10–12; Alternative)
- St. Andre Bessette Catholic School (9-12)
Fort Saskatchewan has two local newspapers. The Fort Saskatchewan Record (The Fort Record) is a weekly home-delivered newspaper published on Thursdays. It took over the offices and plant of The Conservator, the previous weekly newspaper, and was first published on Wednesday, April 5, 1922. The Sturgeon Creek Post, established in 1996, is a weekly newspaper published on Wednesdays that is available at local businesses and newsstands. The Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun are also distributed in the community.
Fort Saskatchewan has one local radio station that broadcasts live on air. It is branded Mix 107.9 FM, and it is owned by Golden West Broadcasting Fort Saskatchewan also had an internet radio station named FortRadio.com, which came online in November 2010 but has since shut down.
- Muriel Abdurahman (1938-2013), first female Mayor of Fort Saskatchewan
- Mike Commodore, retired NHL player
- Kirby Dach, NHL player
- Joshua Kutryk, astronaut 
- Evangeline Lilly, actress
- Joffrey Lupul, retired NHL player
- Richard Matvichuk, retired NHL player
- Carl Mokosak, retired NHL player
- Henry Louis "Ducky" Norwest (1884-1918), decorated Métis sniper who died during the First World War. His name was not added to the local cenotaph until 2008. 
- Walter Thomas (1922-2017), the longest serving firefighter in Canada
- Allen Pedersen, retired NHL player
- Ray Whitney, retired NHL player
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