Swan Hills

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Swan Hills
Town of Swan Hills
Swan Hills is located in Alberta
Swan Hills
Swan Hills
Location of Swan Hills in Alberta
Coordinates: 54°42′38″N 115°24′48″W / 54.71056°N 115.41333°W / 54.71056; -115.41333Coordinates: 54°42′38″N 115°24′48″W / 54.71056°N 115.41333°W / 54.71056; -115.41333
Country Canada
Province Alberta
RegionNorthern Alberta
Census division17
Municipal districtBig Lakes County
 • New townSeptember 1, 1959
 • TownJanuary 1, 1967
 • MayorCraig Wilson
 • Governing bodySwan Hills Town Council
 • Land26.12 km2 (10.08 sq mi)
Elevation1,113 m (3,652 ft)
 • Total1,301
 • Density49.8/km2 (129/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-7 (MST)
Postal code span
T0G 2C0
Area code(s)780
HighwaysHighway 32
Highway 33
WaterwaysFreeman Lake
Morse River
Freeman River
WebsiteOfficial website

Swan Hills is a town in Alberta, Canada. It is located 80 km (50 mi) north of Whitecourt and 62 km (39 mi) northwest of Fort Assiniboine, at the junction of Highway 32 and Grizzly Trail. Swan Hills is located in Big Lakes County within census Division No. 17, Alberta.

Although considered to be in northern Alberta, it is located near the geographic centre of the province.


Initially a base camp for workers in the Swan Hills oilfield, accommodations and facilities were moved from a nearby site and jointly developed in the present location by the government of Alberta and oil companies between 1959-1961.[5] Casually nicknamed 'Oil Hills',[6] the town's official name was taken from the area of densely forested uplands in which it is located, although 'Chalmers' was also considered,[7] after T.W. Chalmers, who had surveyed and cut the Klondike Trail through the area.

The New Town of Swan Hills was incorporated on September 1, 1959 and R.L. Maxfield was appointed as Development Officer and Secretary Treasurer.[5] Twenty-four parcels of industrial land were sold at the first land auction in November 1959.[5] The first all-weather road into the area was completed in 1960, replacing the treacherous forestry road connecting Swan Hills to Fort Assiniboine; the Swan Hills Post Office was opened the same year.[5] The New Town of Swan Hills was officially opened by Premier Ernest Manning in June 1962.[5]

Two teachers provided instruction for forty students in the first two-room school, which was quickly replaced by a seven-room building due to the rapidly increasing population as oil field workers began to relocate their families to the town.[5] Two mobile radio units provided communications and an isolated diesel generating plant provided power until Alberta Government Telephones installed service and Canadian Utilities Ltd. completed an 138 kilometres (86 mi) transmission line in 1960.[5] In November 1965, Swan Hills became the most northerly town in Alberta to be served with natural gas by Northwestern Utilities.[5]

Swan Hills' status was changed when it was formally incorporated as a town on January 1, 1967 making it the first township incorporated during Canada's centennial year.[8][5] Tom Parkinson was elected the first mayor, serving in the position until 1971.[5]

Situated within dense boreal forest, Swan Hills has been evacuated at least five times as wildfires threatened the town: 1972, 1981 & 1983,[9] and twice in May 1998,[10][11] when the Virginia Hills Fire,[12] came close. The town has since implemented a FireSmart[13] program, reducing fire fuel within and around the urban perimeter.


Riding the waves of resource boom and bust, Swan Hills population has ranged from the 1960 population of 254, to 2,553 at the height of Swan Hills’ oil and gas boom in 1979.[14] (Note that these figures were determined by municipal census' and are not reflected in the chart in the right sidebar of this page, which uses provincial and federal census data, collected on different years.)

Population change from incorporation to 2017 for the town of Swan Hills, Alberta, Canada. Sourced from Alberta Municipal Affairs Population Lists

In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Swan Hills recorded a population of 1,301 living in 535 of its 724 total private dwellings, a change of −11.2% from its 2011 population of 1,465. With a land area of 26.12 km2 (10.08 sq mi), it had a population density of 49.8/km2 (129.0/sq mi) in 2016.[3]

In the 2011 Census, the Town of Swan Hills had a population of 1,465 living in 576 of its 718 total dwellings, a change of -10.9% from its 2006 population of 1,645. With a land area of 25.44 km2 (9.82 sq mi), it had a population density of 57.6/km2 (149.1/sq mi) in 2011.[15]

The population of the Town of Swan Hills according to its 2008 municipal census is 1,858.[16]


The primary industry in Swan Hills is oil and gas, although the Swan Hills Treatment Centre, north of the town, is also a local employer. It is also a service centre for the logging industry.


Swan Hills' wilderness setting makes it a popular year-round destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor sports including camping, hunting, fishing, trapping and ATV riding.

Annual Events

  • Snowmobiling: Swan Hills is one of the three points of The Golden Triangle, a groomed 350 kilometres (220 mi) snowmobile trail. A large number of people visit town for the annual Swan Hills Snow Goers snowmobile rally.
  • Motocross: The Swan Hills Dirt riders host an annual motocross meet.
  • Target Shooting: Swan Hills Outdoor Recreation Club hosts an annual skeet-shooting competition at the gun range[17]
  • Golfing: The 9-hole Swan Hills Golf and Country Club, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south of town[18] is open from mid-April to mid-October, depending on snowfall and hosts several annual tournaments.
  • Curling: In the winter there are several annual bonspiels hosted by the Swan Hills Curling Cub.
  • Hockey: In the winter there are several tournaments hosted by Swan Hills Minor Hockey.[19]


Kindergarten to Grade 12 students are served by Swan Hills School, in the Pembina Hills Public Schools district.

Health Services[edit]

Emergency and other medical services are provided at the Swan Hills Healthcare Centre. Family and social services are available through Swan Hills Family and Community Support Services (FCSS).


Local affairs in Swan Hills are managed by a Mayor and town council under Alberta Municipal Affairs. Swan Hills is located in the provincial riding of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. Federally, the town is in the constituency of Peace River-Westlock.

Notable people[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Location and History Profile: Town of Swan Hills" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. October 7, 2016. p. 625. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Municipal Officials Search". Alberta Municipal Affairs. September 22, 2017. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2016 and 2011 censuses – 100% data (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  4. ^ "Alberta Private Sewage Systems 2009 Standard of Practice Handbook: Appendix A.3 Alberta Design Data (A.3.A. Alberta Climate Design Data by Town)" (PDF) (PDF). Safety Codes Council. January 2012. pp. 212–215 (PDF pages 226–229). Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pipeline to the Past : the history of Swan Hills and district. Swan Hills, AB: Swan Hills Historical Society. 1994. pp. 11–12. ISBN 1-55056-153-7.
  6. ^ Peter., Baergen, William (2005). Pioneering with a piece of chalk : the one-room country schools of Alberta, 1885-1982. Stettler, AB: W.P. Baergen. ISBN 9780973949100. OCLC 62181440.
  7. ^ Place names of Alberta. Karamitsanis, Aphrodite, 1961-. Calgary: Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism and Friends of Geographical Names of Alberta Society. 1991–1996. ISBN 9781895176599. OCLC 26131065.
  8. ^ Marketing, BubbleUP. "History". www.townofswanhills.com. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  9. ^ Pipe line to the past : the history of Swan Hills and district. Swan Hills Historical Society. Swan Hills, Alta.: Swan Hills Historical Society. 1994. p. 236. ISBN 1550561537. OCLC 35887166.
  10. ^ "Wild blows forest fires out of control". CBC News. May 5, 1998. Retrieved Aug 7, 2017.
  11. ^ Government of Canada, Public Safety Canada (2013-09-13). "Canadian Disaster Database". Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  12. ^ AEP Alberta (2012-11-15), Virginia Hills and The Fires of 1998, retrieved 2017-08-07
  13. ^ Alberta, Government of. "FireSmart grants help protect communities from risk of wildfire | Alberta.ca". www.alberta.ca. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  14. ^ "Alberta Population Lists from 2000-2016". Alberta Municipal Affairs. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  15. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  16. ^ Alberta Municipal Affairs (2009-09-15). "Alberta 2009 Official Population List" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  17. ^ Marketing, BubbleUP. "Trapshooting". www.townofswanhills.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  18. ^ "Swan Hills Golf & Country Club". GolfAlberta.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  19. ^ "Swan Hills Minor Hockey Association - Home : Powered by RAMP Interactive". swanhillsminorhockey.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  20. ^ Marketing, BubbleUP. "Goose Mountain Ecological Reserve". www.townofswanhills.com. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  21. ^ "Alberta Parks Goose Mountain Information & Facilities". www.albertaparks.ca. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  22. ^ "E. S. Huestis Demonstration Forest". Woodlands County. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  23. ^ "Alberta Parks Trapper Lea's Cabin Trapper Leas Cabin". www.albertaparks.ca. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  24. ^ "Alberta Parks Centre of Alberta Information & Facilities". www.albertaparks.ca. Retrieved 2017-08-10.

External links[edit]