Carter Wilde: Forestry and Community in Whitecourt, Alberta: FPAC 2021 Green Dream Internship Program

Carter Wilde
  |  
September 2, 2021

Welcome back to my last blog of the summer.

It’s been a pretty quick summer, but nonetheless I’m really looking forward to getting back on campus after spending my second year completely online. It’s been a long time coming and I’m excited to be back in class and spend some time with some friends that I haven’t seen in over a year.

It will be my third year in Civil Engineering at the University of Alberta. This year I’ll be learning a lot more about the structural aspects of the profession as well as a few material property classes. Project management is a huge part of Civil Engineering (or any engineering in that manner), so I have a class for that. It will be awesome to get some hands-on experience in labs and seminars, which I was not able todo from home last year.

I’m living at Lister Center this year, which is a part of the residence at U of A. In residence, they have the largest dodgeball league in the world (don’t quote me on this fact!), with more than 1500 residents signed up to play every year. There’s over 40 floors of students living in residence, and every floor has a dodgeball team. I’m living there as a student leader where I volunteer with the dodgeball league to be the team captain of one of the floors. I will have to help with league planning and events throughout the year, so I’m excited to help out.

Figure 1: The David Tuckey Gymnasium, the sacred grounds where the Lister Dodgeball League plays their games.

Now to the main part of the blog. I’m going to give you all a bit of Whitecourt history and talk about the impact of forestry on the town.

Whitecourt, Alberta is a small town of around 11,000 people 1.5 hours northwest of Edmonton. If you were driving to Alaska from any place south or east of here, you would drive through our town.

We are home to two large forest users, Millar Western Saw & Pulp Mill and Alberta Newsprint Company (where I work). Millar Western has been around town since the early 1900s, starting with logging in the area and moving into sawmill and pulp production later in the 1900s. Alberta Newsprint Company, on the other hand, opened up shop in 1990 as Alberta’s first paper mill. These two industries have become large parts of our community, hosting over 200 employees each. Not to mention the countless contracted companies that use them for work. It’s essentially the main driver of our town’s economy outside of the oil and gas industry.

In town we have a lot of new recreation areas built in the last 10-15 years.

The Allen and Jean Millar Center is a facility that hosts a large field house, fitness gym and track, aquatic centre, and meeting rooms. They are able to support large events and run many weekly fitness classes. It was built around 10 years ago and has become a staple of the town.

It was named after Allen and Jean Millar, two individuals who had a tremendous impact on our community. Our town felt they should be honoured by having their names on the recreation centre.

Figure 2: Allen and Jean Millar Centre front view. Whitecourt’s community recreation facility.

Another part of our town is Rotary Park, which is an area downtown that has a small man-made pond. They have walking trails, a waterpark, soccer fields, a playground, and event space.

Every summer the town hosts a free town wide event called “Party in the Park'' where a number of local and Canadian artists play live music. This summer we had a bit of a community day there with fireworks and live music, since our town wasn’t able to celebrate Canada day due to the pandemic. This is one of the most popular spots in town for families to be on a warm summer day.

Figure 3: Overhead view of Rotary Park.

Whitecourt is a big sports community, relying on the hockey culture to keep things going during the winter months. The Whitecourt Wolverines have always been a major part of our town.They began as a Junior B team playing in the NWJHL and in the last 10 year shave transitioned onto being a Junior A team playing in the AJHL, which is the largest province-wide junior hockey league in Alberta. The organization is well respected throughout the town and within the minor hockey system. Many hours of volunteering goes into making this organization successful, and they are able to bring some excitement through sport to the town.

Figure 4: Whitecourt Wolverines player scoring a goal. Via xm105fm.com

And lastly our town is home to Hard Luck Canyon. It is a canyon carved out of the sandstone cliffs 15 minutes outside of Whitecourt. The waterfall is only able to be seen in the spring and early summer as the snow melts off the Rocky Mountains. There are many walking trails and a large staircase that takes you down into the canyon. It is a very nice and relaxing place to spend an afternoon at.

Figure 5: Hard Luck Falls flowing

That pretty much wraps up some of the hotspots Whitecourt has to offer. There are always new things happening here and it was a nice community to grow up in.

This is also the last blog of the year, unfortunately. I hope you all enjoyed learning about my town, my workplace, and I over the summer.

The forest sector is very important to the successful economy in many small towns like Whitecourt. Having an industry like this here has provided us with countless opportunities and helped us become the town we are today. Many of the infrastructure put in place may not have been possible without the support of these large corporations.

Again, thanks for reading my blogs. I really enjoyed my time with FPAC and helping promote the forestry industry in small communities.

- Carter

For more information contact:
Kerry Patterson-Baker
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs
Follow FPAC on Twitter: @FPAC_APFC
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