Grande Prairie is the seventh-largest city in Alberta with a population 55,032 recorded by the 2011 Census, and was one of Canada's fastest growing cities between 2001 and 2006. It is the largest city between Edmonton and Fairbanks, Alaska.
The city adopted the trumpeter swan as an official symbol due to its proximity to the migration route and summer nesting grounds of this bird. For that reason, Grande Prairie is sometimes nicknamed the "Swan City". The dinosaur has emerged as an unofficial symbol of the city due to paleontology discoveries in the area west of the Grande Prairie.
In the 2011 Census, the City of Grande Prairie had a population of 55,032 living in 21,180 of its 22,979 total dwellings, a 16.8% change from its 2006 adjusted population of 47,107. With a land area of 72.8 km2 (28.1 sq mi), it had a population density of 755.9/km2 (1,957.9/sq mi) in 2011.
In 2007, the population according to its 2007 municipal census was 50,227.
In 2006, according to the Canada 2006 Census, Grande Prairie had a population of 47,076 living in 17,941 dwellings, a 27.3% increase from 2001. The city has a land area of 61.08 km2 (23.58 sq mi) and a population density of 770.7 /km2 (1,996 /sq mi).
A neighbourhood in Grande PrairieAs recorded in the Canada 2001 Census, the median age was 29.7 (Alberta median age was 35.0), and the Median Total Income for age 15 and up was $25,414.
In the 2011 National Household Survey, 10% percent of residents identified themselves as Aboriginal, 6% of residents identified themselves as visible minorities. The largest visible minority group were Filipinos, which accounted for 34% of total visible minorities. Almost 90 percent of residents identified English as their first language at the time of the 2006 census, while almost three percent identified French and two percent identified German as their first language learned. The next most common languages were Polish, Tagalog, Cree, and Ukrainian. More than 70 percent of residents identified themselves as Christian at the time of the 2001 census while almost 28 percent indicated they had no religious affiliation. For specific denominations Statistics Canada counted 9,255 Roman Catholics (about 25 percent of the population) and 3,955 members of the United Church of Canada (about 10 percent), as well as 2,165 Anglicans and 2,020 Lutherans (about 5 percent each). Less numerous denominations included 880 Baptists and 790 residents identifying as Pentecostal (about 2 percent each).
Grande Prairie posesses a diversified economy. Major industries include oil and gas, agriculture, forestry, and food services.
Agriculture was the first economic mainstay of Grande Prairie since settlement began in the early 20th Century. It remains part of the local economy today. A variety of crops such as barley, wheat, canola, and oats are grown in the area. Livestock such as cattle and buffalo (bison) are also raised in the area. Despite being north of 55°N, the climate is mild enough to allow for farming on a large scale to prosper. Longer daylight hours during the summer at this latitude aid in crop production. The Peace Country is the northernmost major farming region in North America. Land within the region is still being cleared for new farmland.
Although some oil and gas drilling has been ongoing in the area since the 1950s, oil and gas exploration did not begin to occur on a large scale until the late 1970s. It was in the mid-1970s that the Elmworth gas field was discovered and developed, causing the city to grow rapidly until the last oil boom ended in 1981.
Forestry is a major part of Grande Prairie's economy, for large tracts of forest lie to the south in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. The Weyerhaeuser Canada kraft pulp mill, opened in 1972 by Procter & Gamble, is one of Grande Prairie's largest employers. Canfor runs a sawmill and lumber yard operation on the west side of the city. The Ainsworth Oriented Strand Board plant opened in late 1995.
Grande Prairie serves as the economic and transportation hub for a trading area of nearly 250,000 people. Grande Prairie is also on the CANAMEX trade route linking Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The city has a number of parks and golf courses including the large Muskoseepi Park in the Bear Creek Valley and the Dunes Golf Course south of the city. Muskoseepi Park has excellent bike trails extending nearly the entire length of Bear Creek within the city. Muskoseepi Park also has an outdoor swimming pool and a pavilion with a cafeteria and an outdoor pond which converts into a skating rink in the winter. Crystal Lake in the northeast part of the city also has parkland, preserved wetlands (great for birdwatching), and walking/bike paths around its entire circumference.
Live music can be found in several downtown bars and intermittently at all-ages locations such as Tito's Restaurant and the GP Curling Club. Summer-long music festivals have been organized by community-minded individuals and charitable organizations. Genre-wise the music scene is typically dominated by punk, rock, and metal bands. More established acts include Gunslinger, Book of Names and Emerson Drive.
Cultural venues include the Bowes Family Crystal Centre (a concert hall and hockey rink — the local AJHL team, the Grande Prairie Storm, plays there), the Grande Prairie Museum, the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, which has recently re-opened, The Rabbit Hole bookstore, and Second Street Theatre. Grande Prairie is also home to a professional musical theatre company, "Broadway Live Broadway", which engages equity actors and performs on the college campus.
The Reel Shorts Film Festival is a five-day international festival of short films in Grande Prairie that takes place at Grande Prairie Live Theatre's Second Street Theatre in early May.
Grande Prairie has three 18-hole golf courses nearby including The Dunes Golf and Winter Club, the Bear Creek Golf Club, and the Grande Prairie Golf and Country Club), and a fourth, Grovedale Golf Course, approximately 20 km (12 mi) to the southwest of Grande Prairie.
Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are popular activities during the winter in the Grande Prairie area. There is a local ski hill called Nitehawk located south of the city on the south bank of the Wapiti River. Aside from skiing, Nitehawk also has the only North American natural luge track certified for international events and over the summer months freestyle ski jumpers can practice using the Northern Extreme water ramp facility. It is also active in luge as a naturally refrigerated venue, hosting the FIL World Luge Natural Track Championships in 2007.
The foothills south of Grande Prairie and around Grande Cache are popular year-round for hiking in the summer and for snowmobiling and other winter sports in the winter. Kakwa Wildland Park on the Alberta-BC border, about 180 km south of the city, is a beautiful and mountainous natural area and is known for a beautiful waterfall called Kakwa Falls.
The Eastlink Centre, briefly known as the Multiplex, is an indoor fitness facility that has an indoor pool, splash park, lazy river, and surf simulator. It also includes a weight room and fitness classes, a daycare service and a multi-use basketball court among other amenities and classes. The Eastlink Centre is located in southwest Grande Prairie and connects St. Joseph High School, the Grande Prairie Gymnastics Centre, and the Coca-Cola Centre. In March 2012 the Eastlink Centre received an award for its exceptional accessibility features.
The Leisure Centre, formerly the Rec-Plex, is located in northwest Grande Prairie near the Bear Creek Reservoir. In December 2011, after the Eastlink Centre opened, the majority of the Leisure Centre was closed, with plans to reopen in the second half of 2013. Currently the swimming pool and gym remain closed, but the indoor soccer pitch is open.
There is a lot for families to do in Grande Prairie for little to no cost. Many families enjoy the free entertainment offered at Muskoseepi Park, The Public Library, and at other city-run organizations.
Some thirty churches of various denominations can be found in the city.
Remax Whispering Ridge
10114 100 Street, Whispering Ridge, Alberta, T8V2L9
Tel: 780-933-5678 Fax: 780-538-4747