History

In 1799, David Thompson was one of the first European explorers to arrive in the region. Despite the exploration activity, Lesser Slave Lake wasn't officially named until almost half a century later.

Shortly after Thompson's arrival, no less than five fur trading posts were established around the lake, capitalizing on the abundance of fur-bearing animals. The Hudson Bay Company established a post at the eastern end of the lake, an area that eventually became a primary location for the Northwest Company.

Here, at the mouth of the Lesser Slave River, a tiny settlement formed. It was known as the community of Sawridge. In the early 1930's a major flood wiped out most of the community and the residents decided to re-locate about 5 km south of the river's mouth. This new community was known as Slave Lake. The Village of Slave Lake was incorporated in 1961 with 500 residents and in 1965 it was officially incorporated as a town.

This new community was known as Slave Lake.

The Village of Slave Lake was incorporated in 1961 with 500 residents and in 1965 it was officially incorporated as a town.

The 2011 wildfires devastated areas of the Town of Slave Lake, the Sawridge First Nation and the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River.  In the town 333 single family homes and 169 apartment units were destroyed as were three churches, ten businesses and a local radio station. The government centre, including provincial offices, the Town hall and the library, was lost as well. In the Municipal District, 56 homes and a fire hall were destroyed.
 
The Lesser Slave Lake Region Tri-Council, the combined Councils of the Town of Slave Lake, the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River and the Sawridge First Nation, oversaw the recovery. The Alberta government offered considerable assistance.
 
Much of the rebuild has been complete. Many regional initiatives such as FireSmart continue through Tri-Council to help the region to prosper. The new Legacy Centre will be an ongoing tribute to the resilience of the region. Below are highlights of the history of recovery.