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Located in western Alberta, Canada, the Beaverlodge Destination is composed of farmland, forested regions, and several towns of varying sizes. Coursing through the destination’s northern and central regions are the Smoky River and the Peace River, the latter of which has a few provincial parks and natural sites in its vicinity, such as Dunvegan West Wildland Provincial Park and Peace River Wildland. The destination’s namesake, Beaverlodge, is situated on Highway 43, covering a total area of 2.08 square miles to the east of the British Columbia border. Other cities in the destination include Valleyview, Grande Prairie, Wembley, and Hythe. Most tourists who plan on engaging in outdoor recreation during their visit to places in the Beaverlodge Destination generally come between early July and mid-August when climatic conditions are more moderate in comparison to other times of the year. Fishing is a relatively popular draw that visitors undertake, especially at Lesser Slave Lake—the largest lake in the Beaverlodge Destination. During winter, spring, and summer at Lesser Slave Lake, most fishermen aim to catch pike; however, walleye tends to be the most commonly sought-after species. Aside from the fish that reside in the destination’s aquatic landforms, several species of birds can also be found throughout the Beaverlodge Destination. Grand Prairie, in particular, gained the nickname “Home of the Trumpeter Swan” as a result of the considerable population of swans that have nested in the city.
The Beaverlodge Destination encompasses a portion of the province of Alberta in its western region. A number of towns are found throughout the destination, including Hythe, Wembley, Spirit River, Valleyview, McLennan, Sexsmith, High Praire, Slave Lake, Grand Prairie, and the namesake, Beaverlodge. It was estimated in 2021 that the town of Beaverlodge was home to roughly 2,462 residents, 50.1% of which are male, while the remaining 49.9% are female.
Located within the western region of the destination, Beaverlodge is a community composed of numerous local attractions, such as a public library, a recreation center with a pool, and an arena that is primarily used for winter recreation, among several other sites. A particularly notable feature of the town is the relatively giant beaver sculpture, which was constructed as a celebratory landmark in honor of Beaverlodge’s 75th anniversary of incorporation in July 2004. The beaver sculpture is a roadside attraction that sits along the highway corridor. Due to the forested landscape that surrounds the town of Beaverlodge, many visitors take advantage of these natural areas by utilizing the designated hiking trails, namely Monk Pass Memorial Trail or the Saskatoon Mountain route, where hikers may be given the opportunity to observe views of the mountains, rivers, foothills, and cultivated land that characterize the town. A fair amount of parks are also found throughout Beaverlodge, as well as a country club known as the Riverbend Golf and Country Club, which also serves as a historical site that dates back to 1929.
Aside from the namesake, the Beaverlodge Destination often receives visitors who come to see the city of Grande Prairie, situated south of Beaverlodge. The city’s economy is aided significantly by agriculture, forest products, and the oil and natural gas industries. Tourism additionally supports the economy as the following sites can be found in or around Grande Prairie: Saskatoon Island Provincial Park, Kleskun Hill, Revolution Place, and the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum. The previously listed attractions are fairly popular among tourists. However, beyond this, Grande Prairie often hosts a number of events throughout the year that draw a relatively high quantity of visitors. Typically in early May, the city holds an event at the Grande Prairie Live Theatre’s Second Street Theatre called the Reel Short Film Festival, a five-day international event. Moreover, a handful of bars can be found in the city’s downtown district, many of which host live music. Grande Prairie notably has a diverse range of local music genres, such as reggae, country, metal, folk, and rock, to name a few.
Agricultural land serves as one of the predominant constituents of the Beaverlodge Destination’s topographic structure, in addition to forested regions, hilly terrain, rivers, and lakes. The largest lake in the Beaverlodge Destination is the Lesser Slave Lake, which stretches 60 miles in length and 12 miles in width. Lesser Slave Lake covers an expanse of 451 square miles, draining eastward into the Athabasca River through the Lesser Slave River. The lake is often utilized by fishermen, while the surrounding area—which is chiefly farmland—is used for the production of oil and natural gas, agriculture and forestry, and for the manufacturing of pulp and lumber products. Inhabiting the waters of the lake are an abundance of walleye, burbot, arctic grayling, northern pike, and yellow perch. Some fishermen have referred to Lesser Slave Lake as "Alberta’s walleye capital," considering that this particular species of fish is supposedly the most popular catch.
A number of provincial parks and natural areas can be found in the Beaverlodge Destination, including Saskatoon Island Provincial Park, Young’s Point Provincial Park, Lesser Slave Lake Wildland Provincial Park, Greene Valley Provincial Park, and Dunvegan West Wildland. Saskatoon Island Provincial Park is home to several species of birds as "the park is a federal migratory bird sanctuary as part of the Grande Prairie Important Brid Area." Tundra swans, trumpeter swans, Canada geese, and northern harriers are a few bird species that reside within the park. A variety of mammals are also a component of the park’s ecosystem, as snowshoe hares, moose, groundhogs, weasels, beavers, muskrats, coyotes, and deer reside in the area. Similarly, Dunvegan West Wildland Provincial Park provides habitats for wildlife as the park neighbors the Peace River. Bald eagles, golden eagles, and falcons build their nests along the cliffs of the river, and the park is a year-round place of dwelling for a substantial population of deer and elk.
Together with Bear Lake, Saskatoon Island Provincial Park hosts the threatened trumpeter swan. Grande Prairie, a city located east of the park, was declared the “Home of the Trumpeter Swan” circa 1958. This title was due to the discovery of an abundant inhabitation of swans that were nesting in the Grande Prairie area. Grande Prairie is often nicknamed the “Swan City” by locals and visitors alike.
Warm-weather activities are most commonly pursued in Beaverlodge from early July to mid-August when temperatures are generally moderate. Throughout the year, temperatures vary between 3 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit with seasonal variations of cloud cover. Previous visitors have described the summer season—which is roughly from May to September—to be somewhat “partly cloudy” and “comfortable” in terms of climatic conditions. The average daily high temperature during the summer is above 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures rise to around 72 degrees Fahrenheit during July, reportedly the hottest month of the year. Regarding the winter season from November to March, former tourists have indicated that these months tend to be “long,” “freezing,” “snowy,” and “partly cloudy.” On average, the daily high drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and the coldest month is most commonly January, as temperatures range between 5 and 21 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the month.
In 1908, Euro-Canadian settlement occurred in what is now known as Beaverlodge, the destination’s namesake. In 1909, however, Beaverlodge received its first European settlers. That same year, a group of breakaway Methodists from Ontario, known as the Christian Association, took out homesteads. “High-quality grain production” became a prominent aspect of the settlement prior to the arrival of the railway in 1928. Donald Albright became a notable presence in 1914 when he began experimenting with grain varieties near the community. His farm was then established as a Dominion agricultural research substation, a site that presently exists as an “agriculture and agri-food research farm.” The government rented 20 acres of land in 1917 to establish the previously noted substation that operated on a part-time basis. W.D. Albright became the superintendent of the station in 1919. His influence on Beaverlodge and the surrounding towns ultimately encouraged more farmers to live in the general vicinity of Beaverlodge. Through Albright’s efforts to promote the region, he also introduced new farming practices.
In 1929, Beaverlodge was incorporated as a village and later incorporated as a town in 1956. The town was originally regarded as “Uz-i-pa” by members of the Beaver First Nation (Beaver peoples), which translates as “temporary lodge;” however, Beaverlodge’s current name derives from the Beaverlodge River that it was named after.
Akin to Beaverlodge, Grande Prairie was also inhabited by the Dane-zaa (Beaver) peoples in its earliest years of settlement. To allow easier access for settlers to reach the area, in 1911, the Edson Trail from Edson to Grande Prairie was opened. However, it was not until 1916 that the arrival of the railway significantly led to the development and expansion of farmland, which led to an influx of settlers to the Peace region. In 1958, the town was incorporated as a city with a population of 7,600 residents at the time. From 2001 to 2006, Grande Prairie was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.