Fort McMurray is a city in Alberta, Canada. It is the largest settlement in Athabasca Oil Sands. Although it looks and feels like a city, it lost its city status in 1995 when it merged with a large rural area to form the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo .
Highway 63 is the main road to Fort McMurray, about 450 kilometres NE of Edmonton. It it parallelled by Highway 881 for about 200 kilometres. The road is one lane in each direction for the vast majority of the trip. Twinning has been promised, but progress is slow. Some passing lanes have been installed. While large, wide loads and truck traffic both use the highway, traffic counts are low except Thursday nights (southbound) and Sunday afternoons/evenings (northbound).
Passenger rail service ended in 1986. While there's been some talk about upgrading the existing rail freight corridor, there's no real prospect of bringing it back at this time.
Fort McMurray is in fact, a loose cluster of several dozen subdivisions, many having only one entry/exit. Most subdivisions are pedestrian friendly, however to travel from one part of town to the other end, a vehicle is definitely recommended.
Fort McMurray has an extensive public transit system that reaches all areas of the city. It is common however for the buses to be late or have long waiting periods between each service.
Taxi cabs are easily available. Taxi cab companies include:
Downtown, or Lower Townsite, is the centre of action that takes place in the town. Fairly easy to navigate, the main throughfare is the ever so congested Franklin Avenue. Most of the city's services are here. You can expect to find the box-stores here, restaurants, clubs, shopping malls, and more.
Mostly houses and condominiums.
This is the main industrial park that services the oil sands.
A combination of trailer parks, condos, and retail. There are a few restaurants and stores in this neighbourhood, as well as a selection of both hotels and motels.
This and Downtown are the only parts of Fort McMurray with hotels.
A primarily residential community, has some stores and an arena.
The oldest part of FortMac. A primarily residential community, has some stores.
Primarily residential with several services.
Thickwood, or Thickwood Heights is a large subdivision with approximately 20,000 people making it the second largest subdivision in FortMac. One can expect to find it very similar to Downtown. The main road is Thickwood Blvd.
Primarily residential with several services.
Primarily residential with several services, a newer area of town.
The largest subdivision in FortMac with approximately 35,000 people. Most of the new construction in town takes place in this area. Most of this area is residential, however several supermarkets, restaurants, and stores have already opened up, and there is talk of a large shopping mall to be built here. A new police station is being built here. There are many smaller "sub"-subdivisions here, such as Lakewood, Parsons Creek, and Confederation Heights.
The Oil Sands Discovery Centre, 515 MacKenzie Boulevard, +1 780 743-7167, . September 4 - May 13, 10AM-4PM, closed Mondays. The Centre offers an insight on the rapid pace of development happening north of the city. In addition it explains the history of the oil sands, how the oil sand is mined and converted into product, and future ways of extracting the oil sand. The Discovery Centre also shows exhibits of machines that are used to process the oil sand.
Fort McMurray Tourism, 1-800-565-3947, , schedules tours of Suncor, one of the main oil sand plants, from May to September. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance (one week to 10 days advance booking recommended). Children under 12 are not allowed on the tour.
Points North Adventures, +1 780 743-9350, , offers canoe trips and rentals, river tours, and jet boat rides.
Souvenirs of Fort McMurray and the oil sands can be found at the Discovery Centre and specialty retail outlets. Some places, you can purchase small vials of actual oil sand, and different products that are associated with the process all the way to the final product - synthetic crude.
Fort McMurray has several shopping areas and malls, the largest being Peter Pond Shopping Centre, 9713 Hardin Street, +1 780 791-4044, . It is, however quite small for a city of 80,000 people. A larger 250,000 sq ft mall is planned to be developed in Timberlea, however no start on construction has occurred.
The Keg Steakhouse
Boston Pizza two locations in the downtown and Timberlea area
Moxie's Classic Grill
Tio Mario offers Italian food.
Yoshi Japanese Restaurant
Fuji Japanese Restaurant has the finest Japanese food in town.
Kozy Korner Family Restaurant The best place for home-cooked style food.
The Fish Place offers fine seafood.
Hearthstone located in the Sawridge Hotel, has incredible breakfast and lunch buffets, as well as exclusive dishes.
The legal drinking age in Alberta is 18.
Diggers, Oil Can Tavern, Teasers - All three clubs are located in the Oilsands Hotel. Diggers being your typical nightclub music bar, Oil Can having live country music, and Teasers having nude dancers.
The Fort McMurray Newfoundlanders Club - A very popular spot with the locals. All kinds of music are played here. Club mix, country, rock, and yes, newfie music. Be sure that if you're going to show up on a Friday or Saturday night, come early, as this place fills up quickly.
McMurray Inn, 9906 Saunderson Avenue, +1 780 743-1700
Twin Pine Motor Inn, 10024 Biggs Ave, +1 780 743-3391
Oil Sands Hotel, 10007 Franklin Ave, +1 780 743-2211
Merit Hotel, 8200 Franklin Ave, +1 780 714-9444
Radisson Hotel, 435 Gregoire Dr, +1 780 743-2400
Podollan Inns, 10131 Franklin Avenue, 1 888 448-2080
Bridgeport Inn, 10021 Biggs Ave, +1 780 790-2600
Sawridge Hotel, 530 McKenzie Blvd, +1 780 791-7900
Chez Dube B&B, 10102 Fraser Ave, +1 780 790-2367
Fort McMurray has a very strong economy and very low unemployment, with an economy driven primarily by the oil sands industry. Most of the jobs are located in the oil sands, north and southeast of town. Most people work at Suncor, Syncrude, Albian Sands, CNRL, OptiNexen and Deer Creek.
Fort McMurray can be known for it's brutally cold winters. Temperatures can drop to minus 35 to minus 45 Celsius at times. It is very important that your vehicle is winterized as well as the engine block heater is plugged in. Don't forget to bundle up! As for crime, Fort Mac is generally a very safe place. Franklin Avenue, between Hardin and Morrison as well as Main Street between MacDonald, and Fraser in the downtown area after dark after the bars close on a Friday and Saturday night can be a little rowdy at times but not dangerous.
North of Fort McMurray
A small native community located 55 km north.
Fort Chipewyan, or Fort Chip, is located 250 km north. Travel by road is only permitted in winter as there are ice crossings.
South of Fort McMurray
A small hamlet (population 1000) that is experiencing a mini-boom of it's own. Services include a general store. Anzac offers country-style living, and it's proximity to the Long Lake oilsands project make it a favorite among many people.
A small hamlet of around 250 people
A small hamlet of around 300 people.