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City Spotlight: Fort McMurray Alberta

Have you been thinking about making the move to Fort McMurray Alberta but don’t know anything about the city? Well we have the right guide for you; in this article we highlight the city of Fort McMurray Alberta, its location, history, population, climate, and economy.

Fort McMurray, or as it is commonly referenced to in the media “Fort McMoney” is an oil boom town located in Northeastern Alberta in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Although it has a large enough population and many people think of it as a city, Fort McMurray is technically not a city as it is un-incorporated.


Fort McMurray is located in northeastern Alberta Approximately 435 kilometers (270 miles) northeast of Edmonton on highway 63 and about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Saskatchewan. It is located in the boreal forest at the convergence of the Athabasca River and the Clearwater River.


Before European settlers arrived in the 18th century, the First Nations tribes “The Cree” were the dominant peoples of the Fort McMurray area and were known to use the oil sands to waterproof their canoes and housing.

Fort McMurray has played a considerable role in the history and developments within the Canadian petroleum industry. Oil exploration is believed to have been going on in Fort McMurray since the early 20th century, but wasn’t seriously examined until 1921 when the Alcan Oil Company showed interest in developing a refining plant in Fort McMurray to separate the oil from the sands.

Abasands Oil was actually the first company that successfully extracted oil from the oil sands through a process known as “hot water extraction” in the 1930s.

In 1967, the Great Canadian Oil Sands Plant opened for business and Fort McMurray’s economy skyrocketed and has been skyrocketing ever since.


As of 2006 Fort McMurray’s population is 64,441 and has sustained an average annual growth rate of almost 9% since 1999. Fort McMurray’s population is forecasted to reach the 100,000 mark by 2012. Native Albertans make up almost half of Fort McMurray’s population while the second largest denomination of people in Fort McMurray are people from Newfoundland and Labrador, with 20% of the population.

Fort McMurray is a very cold place to be in the winter but has moderate temperatures in the summer. Fort McMurray’s climate is actually classified as sub arctic. In January, the average temperature in Fort McMurray is -19.8°C (-3.6°F) while the average temperature in July is 16.6°C (61.9°F).


Fort McMurray is located close to the Athabasca Oil Sands and serves as a base of operations for many of the companies and employees that work in the Oil Sands. Fort McMurray is considered one of the major cores of oil production in Alberta and its economy is largely based on the oil sands industry. Fort McMurray’s economy also relies on oil pipelines, natural gas, and forestry.

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