Whitecourt, Alta, incorporated as a town in 1971, population 9605 (2011c), 8971 (2006c). The Town of Whitecourt is located near the confluence of the McLeod and ATHABASCA rivers, 177 km northwest of Edmonton.
Whitecourt, Alta, incorporated as a town in 1971, population 9605 (2011c), 8971 (2006c). The Town of Whitecourt is located near the confluence of the McLeod and ATHABASCA rivers, 177 km northwest of Edmonton. The Grand Trunk Railway survey led to this spot in 1903, and although a railway did not immediately follow, the survey line facilitated the emergence of a tiny settlement named Sagitawah (Cree for "meeting of the waters"). The community, composed mainly of trappers, was soon renamed Whitecourt after Walter White, who delivered mail to the district from Greencourt until a post office was established in 1910.
With the building of the first of 3 sawmills in 1919, and the arrival of Canadian National Railways 2 years later, Whitecourt became a major lumbering centre. Oil and natural gas discoveries in the region, and the completion of Highway 43 in the mid-1950s brought further growth. This prosperity led Whitecourt to incorporation first as a village in 1959 then as a new town (ie, it did not have full autonomy) in 1961 and later as a town.
Today a pulp mill, a newsprint mill north of town and a medium-density fibre-board mill at Blue Ridge (30 km to the east) have increased Whitecourt's stature in the forestry industry. The petroleum sector remains important to the town's economy while tourism is a growing sector. The town bills itself as the Snowmobile Capital of Alberta.