Fort McMurray, Alberta, is best known today for its association with the oil sands industry. It is the top employer in the region with many available jobs in oil sands and supporting industries. Although not officially a city, “Fort Mac” is considered to be the heart of one of Canada’s major oil production hub.
Fort McMurray, formerly a city, became an urban service area when it amalgamated with Improvement District No. 143 in April 1995. With this amalgamation, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo was created.
Fort McMurray is located 435 kilometres northeast of Edmonton and about 60 kilometres west of the Saskatchewan border. Nestled in the boreal forest at the confluence of the Athabasca River and the Clearwater River, it is the largest community in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
Fort McMurray has a diverse and multicultural community and attracts people from all corners of Canada and the world.
There are four school districts in Fort McMurray, as well as five colleges and universities. And there are many opportunities to get training or upgrade your skills in or near the city.
There are 24 elementary and secondary schools within the public school districts in Fort McMurray and six in the rural areas of Wood Buffalo.
- The Fort McMurray Public School District is the public school district for students in Fort McMurray. Alternative programs include assisted self-paced studies, French Immersion, Fort McMurray Christian School and Fort McMurray Islamic School.
- The Fort McMurray Catholic School District is a faith-based learning environment, and offers French Immersion and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit language programs.
- The Northland School Division extends across Northern Alberta and includes the rural area surrounding both the Town of Peace River and Wood Buffalo.
- The Greater North Central Francophone Education Region is the Northern Alberta school district for French first language education.
- Keyano College
With a humid continental climate and no dry season, Fort McMurray has long, very cold winters and warm, short summers.
The town lies at a lower elevation than most other parts of Alberta. The warm season lasts from May 16 to September 14 with an average daily high temperature above17°C. The cold season lasts from November 17 to March 5 with an average daily high temperature below-4°C.
The hottest day of the year is July 20, with an average high of 24°C and the coldest day of the year is February 7, with an average low of -21°C.
Fort McMurray has an average annual precipitation of 456 millimetres – falls mainly in the summer months – and an average annual snowfall of 156 centimetres – appears within a range of 5 to 7 months.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo operates a public transit service that includes Fort McMurray, seven days a week. Services consist of local scheduled bus routes, specialized transportation for people with disabilities and school buses.
16 regular bus routes operate daily with two additional weekday rush hour routes to the main industrial areas and a special Saturday service for people in Saprae Creek. The system has reduced weekend service and does not operate at all on most holidays.
By air, Fort McMurray is serviced by many airlines, including Air Canada, WestJet, and United Airlines with scheduled flights to Calgary, Edmonton, Fort Chipewyan, Fort Smith, Lethbridge, Peace River, Saskatoon, Toronto, Vancouver, St. John’s and Denver.
As well, various oil companies operate their own corporate and charter flights.
Highway 63 is the only highway between Fort McMurray and Edmonton. Because of the demands of the oil sands industry, this highway boasts some of the highest tonnage per kilometer in Canada, and the largest and heaviest loads that trucks have ever carried.
Fort McMurray can also be accessed from Lac La Biche through Highway 881. The city is also served by Highway 69, which is a short spur off of Highway 63 that connects Fort McMurray with its airport and a few rural residential developments to the southeast.
For information on driving in Alberta and how to get a licence, see Driving.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo contracts Canada’s national police service – the RCMP – to provide law enforcement services for its citizens.
The Fort McMurray RCMP Detachment consists of both Provincial and Municipal civilian staff that provide administrative services to the RCMP.
In emergency call 9-1-1 immediately. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, the fire department or an ambulance. If the situation doesn’t require immediate attention, call 780-788-4000 (Complaint); 780-788-4040 (Admin).
Places of worship
Fort McMurray is home to a wide variety of religious beliefs and worship groups. To find out about different places of worship in Fort McMurray, click here.