About the City
Fort McMurray, also known as Fort Mac, isn’t officially a town, but it is a large
community in northern Canada. The climate is just above the subarctic climate
classification. While this city is the heart of Canada’s major oil producing region, it
contains many other employment opportunities and a vibrant community.
Fort McMurray is 270 miles or 435 kilometers northeast of Edmonton. It is located by the
Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers. It is surrounded by forests. It is only 37 miles or 60
kilometers west of the Saskatchewan border. While the town used to be famous for its
isolation, this community now hosts an international airport. It is located on Route 63.
The Cree were the original inhabitants of this area. The railways arrived in 1915. The
town’s growth skyrocketed after the Suncor plant opened, expanding from 2,000 people
to 31,000. While the local economy is heavily dependant on oil production, there are also
jobs in forestry, natural gas drilling and tourism. The area is also home to the Great
Pyramids of Sulfur, built by Suncor and other energy firms because there is literally no
where else to put it.
Fort McMurray is part of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. It used to be called
just McMurray. Fort McMurray is the largest town in the Regional Municipality of Wood
Landmarks and Events
You can tour the Athabasca Dunes Ecological Reserve. It contains some of the largest
sand dunes and kames in the world. Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada’s largest
national park, the world’s largest dark sky preserve, home to the last free roaming herds
of bison in Canada, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the perfect place to enjoy
the stars and aurora borealis. Gregoire Lake Provincial Park is nearby, located between
Fort McMurray and Lac La Biche. The Boomtown Casino is located in town. Casman
Centre is the home of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
Fort McMurray has an annual Blueberry Festival. In the winter, the ice road from Fort
McMurray to Fort Chipewyan opens.
Fort McMurray features excellent fishing in the summer and ice fishing in the winter.
There are dog sledding tours in the winter to fort Chipewyan. The local MacDonald
Island Park is the largest community recreation facility in Canada. It contains gyms,
swimming pools, skating and a concert venue.
Fort McMurray’s population has been growing as the number of jobs in the surrounding
oil sands led to an influx of people. So many young people moved into Fort McMurray
that the city’s median age is around 32 compared with 40 for Canada as a whole. The fly
in fly out employment is shifting to permanent residency for a growing number of
families. The population of Fort McMurray was 61,374 in 2011, with another ten
thousand in the surrounding area.
Schools and Family Friendly Services
Ecole Boreal is the local francophone school, serving grades kindergarten through twelth.
There are several public schools as well as a Catholic school district. Keyano College is
located in Fort McMurray.
About half of the properties in Fort McMurray are single family detached homes. A
quarter of the residences were apartments. Another ten percent of real estate were
Fort McMurray real estate prices are driven in large part by the seasonal workforce
demands. The Alberta government has stated that it is planning to release more Crown
Land for development on the north side of Fort McMurray.