It’s that time of year again. It feels like spring, even though there’s still a couple of weeks before the official first day of spring. Here in the frozen north people look forward eagerly to the river break up. There will be cars lined up along the side of the road as people watch and listen for that first crack of ice. It symbolizes the official end of winter and buoys hope that warmer days are coming. There are five rivers that flow through the city. The two biggest are the Athabasca and the Clearwater rivers.

 The city is the oldest European settlement in the province of Alberta, dating from 1788. Prior to that the Beaver people and the Chipewyan Nation made this area their home. They were followed by the Mikisew Cree, Metis, the Dene, Fort McKay First Nation, among others.

Although the Region of Wood Buffalo is mainly known these days for the oil sands, it was a thriving economical area with fishing, logging, fur trading and salt production long before oil was extracted from the oil sands.  The area has known many ups and downs including the wild fires that swept through in 2016 and the once-in-a-century flooding of 2020, right on the heels of the sweeping pandemic.

Like the rivers that flow through the region the people here continue to go with the ebb and flow of the times, watching always for change and better times ahead.

A sculpture celebrating the past, present, and future of the area
looking forward to open waters as winter turns to spring
Frozen rivers mean cross-country skiing, skating, or ski-doo rides
Taiga-Nova, an industrial area of the city
Rivers and hills, a familiar backdrop all through the city
When rivers overflow their banks in a once in a century flood
Taken prior to the wildfires that swept through the area, this is one of my favorite views of the great Athabasca River which flows through a gold course and through the city of Fort McMurray

16 thoughts on “Going with the flow in the Region of Wood Buffalo, Alberta

    1. Yes, she can be. I am doing my best to dispel the image of “dirty oil sands”. There are many truly beautiful places all around here. I have not yet been there but images I’ve seen of Wood Buffalo National Park are quite stunning. Maybe this year.

      Thanks so much, Jane.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never been there when the ice first cracks. It’s a thing here that people line up to watch, usually happens in April, but the ice is not as thick this year so it may happen earlier. I’ve been told it’s quite something to see and hear.


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