Cities in Six: Athabasca, Alberta

Visual, Virtual, Visiting---Six Photos at a Time

We interrupt our tour of Europe to feature some Canadian cities.  Although I have visited two territories and all ten provinces of Canada, I don’t have photos from cities in every area of the country.  Instead, I’ll lead you on a scattershot tour of Canada beginning with—where else?—Athabasca, Alberta.

Athabasca, nestled on the south side of a bend in the Athabasca River, is about 150 kilometres north of Edmonton.  The river served as a major trade route for Chipewyan, Cree, and other First Nations, and in 1876 the Hudson’s Bay Company built a warehouse to facilitate its own supply chain.  The town, originally called Athabasca Landing, was later changed to Athabasca.

Athabasca University, founded in 1970, relocated from Edmonton to the town of Athabasca in 1984 and is a major employer of the town’s approximately 3000 residents.  We visited Athabasca in June 2018, on a weekend that began with sun and ended with steady drizzle.


Hills and trees.  Although recent decades have seen some development on the north side of the river, most of the town sits in orderly rows on the south side.  The downtown is cradled by tree-studded hills leading up from the river’s edge.

Bridging the river.  Until 1952 there was no permanent crossing over the Athabasca River at the town of Athabasca.  (I’m guessing this wooden-deck bridge is the one built in 1952.)  This road leads north to Calling Lake, Sandy Lake, and Wabasca-Desmarais.

The Brick School.  The town of Athabasca suffered a major fire in 1913.  Many of the buildings in the city’s core had to be rebuilt in the years following the blaze.  Athabasca Public School, known as “The Brick School”, opened in 1914 and was in operation for about 50 years.


All ye faithful.  In its early years, the town drew people from many areas and of many faiths.  I counted at least a dozen churches gracing various intersections.  This one is Athabasca United Church, reportedly one of the largest frame structures in Alberta when it was built in 1913.

Multi-function.  The Athabasca Regional Multiplex opened in 2008.  In addition to its sports facilities (rink, pool, racquet courts, gym, etc), the multiplex hosts concerts, conferences, and convocations.  AU’s 2024 Convocation will be held here June 19 and 20.


Here for a reason.  We travelled from Ontario to Athabasca for my 2018 convocation ceremony.  Despite the Faculty of Business backdrop, I graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.  We extended our visit an extra day so we could explore the town and area.


Travel note:  Probably the easiest way to get to Athabasca is by car—we rented one at the Edmonton airport after arriving from Ontario.  There’s at least one bus company offering bus transportation between Edmonton and Athabasca.  If you’re attending AU’s convocation as a graduate, shuttle-bus transportation is provided between Edmonton and Athabasca from certain hotels.