This small community in eastern Alberta is a perfect place to experience the peace and biodiversity of northern Canada without getting too far from civilization.
Located far north in Alberta’s “Lakeland” area, Bonnyville is a small town surrounded by a natural landscape of wooded lakes. Camp along the shore of one of the dozens of lakes. Fish or ice-fish, depending on the season. Watch for the area’s fauna, like moose and osprey.
In 1907, four French pioneers set up camp where Bonnyville resides today. The many lakes and abundance of game, and trees for lumber and fuel were some of the reasons they decided to establish a new town here. Visit the Bonnyville Museum to learn more about Bonnyville’s founders and to see relics from throughout the town’s history. A vintage log cabin, an old water tower and a schoolhouse are just a few of the thousands of artifacts in the museum’s collection.
Camp on the shore of an area lake to enjoy Bonnyville’s natural surroundings. Vezeau Beach along Moose Lake to the west of town offers a campground along a long, sandy beach. If you have fishing equipment, rent a boat or fish from the shore. Pike, perch and trout are all common in the waters around Bonnyville.Take a walk on the 5-mile (8-kilometer) trail that wraps around Jessie Lake south of town. Watch for birds; the area features three-quarters of Alberta’s bird species, including eagles and ospreys. Look for mammals as well, such as muskrats and an occasional moose.
During the winter, drive northeast to the 144-square-mile (372-square-kilometer) Cold Lake, which is the area’s largest. Every winter, the lake freezes solid, allowing you to walk and even drive out on the surface. Learn from locals how to ice fish. Head to the southeastern shore to find Kinosoo Ridge Snow Resort, where you can ski or snowboard in the fresh powder of a northern Canada blizzard.
Arrive in Alberta through Edmonton International Airport, then rent a car and drive about 3.5 hours northeast to reach Bonnyville. Winters are long and summers are humid, but Bonnyville offers natural attractions for visitors in either season.