Cruise into culture in Lac La Biche Region with these 5 tips

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Cruise the culture in Lac La Biche with these five ideas, on a road trip to #NEAB #cruiseourculture 

Lac La Biche, AB — Known as the gateway to the Lakeland region, the area around Lac La Biche is a great road trip destination filled with unique adventures, fun-loving local people and fascinating culture. There is so much to see and do in this region that you could easily spend a week or more exploring. 

My husband and I spent two days and had a wonderful time experiencing the beauty of the region, meeting locals and exploring the unique culture of this scenic part of Alberta. And we came away with some tips to help you plan your own adventure.

WATCH: cruise the culture of Lac La Biche Region

Explore the History: Lac La Biche Museum 

Lac La Biche is the second-oldest permanent European settlement in Alberta with fascinating history and culture. At the Lac La Biche Museum, we learned about the history of this region and explored interesting artifacts. I hadn’t realized how multicultural this part of Alberta is. 

I was surprised to learn that there are 60-70 cultures represented in the region. David Thompson, the famous explorer, fur trader and mapmaker, was the first European to reach the shores of Lac La Biche. He arrived in 1798 and the Hudson’s Bay Company built a fort in 1799.

Photo: Cora DeVos
The Lac La Biche Museum houses explorer, Indigenous and settler culture exhibits, with rotating features.

Lac La Biche was on the original voyageur fur trade route and it was French fur traders who gave the lake its current name. Indigenous People called it Elk Lake. The French name is a translation that means “lake of the doe.” 

More museums and historical sites: we only had time for one historic site, but there are many others worth visiting including Lac La Biche Mission National Historic Site of Canada, Plamondon District Museum and Portage College Museum of Aboriginal Peoples’ Art and Artifacts.

Experience the Bounty of the Land: Orchard Fresh Syrups 

It was the bounty of the land that led to the establishment of a fort in Lac La Biche in 1799 and it’s something you can still experience today. One of the easiest ways to do this in the summer is to visit a U-pick farm. 

We visited Orchard Fresh Syrups bright and early on a weekday morning to pick Saskatoon berries. I used to pick Saskatoon berries as a child, but no one ever taught me how to do it properly. Jennifer Beniuk, co-owner of the U-Pick farm taught me how to do it right.

Photo: Greg Olsen
Learning the art of berry picking at Orchard Fresh Syrups.

In a few minutes, I had a bucket full of ripe, mouthwatering berries. I couldn’t resist going home with some delicious syrup made by her husband, Al Beniuk. They also sell wonderful fruit wines and you can do a wine tasting right on the farm. A morning on their farm was the most fun I have ever had berry picking. 

More Ways to experience the bounty of the land: fishing is a great way to experience the bounty of this region. In winter, the county builds an ice road on the massive lake for ice fishing. 

Attend a Festival or Event: Plamondon Mud Bogs 

If you want to get down and dirty or at least watch locals do it, the Plamondon Mud Bogs is the place to go. Mud Bogging is an off-road motor sport where vehicles with super-charged engines race across a pit of mud.

Photo: Cora DeVos
Plamondon hosts an annual mud bog event that is one of the season's highlights.

Held in mid-July, the Plamondon Mud Bogs is an annual community event that packs a stadium. 

In addition to the main event, there’s a demolition derby, stock car races, food trucks, beer gardens, children’s entertainment, and a softball tournament. A variety of other events are held throughout the year in Lac La Biche region. 

Watch an Archery Competition: 2024 World Archery Field Championships 

The Lakeland Archers have one of the finest archery facilities in the world. The group is dedicated to introducing and growing the sport of archery in the Lakeland Region. Tournaments are held throughout the year and it’s one of the best ways to see what the sport is all about.

Photo: Cora DeVos
Lac La Biche welcomes the World Archery Field Competition in September 2024.

We popped by to watch an Archery Alberta ASA Tour that featured some of the top archers in Canada. The facility is beautiful and even has a café where we enjoyed some delicious freshly-made homemade perogies. It was fascinating to watch skilled male and female archers compete. 

The next day we popped back to the facility to get an archery lesson from Rene Schaub, former world champion and president of Lakeland Archers. Archery is addictive. I enjoyed challenging myself with a sport that was new to me. 


Cruise into the culture of Lac La Biche, plan your visit now

The 2024 World Archery Field Championships are coming to Lac La Biche; In 2019, Lakeland Archers hosted the World Archery 3D Championships, the first time a world championship archery event had been held in North America. 

The club will host the World Archery Field Championships on September 16-22, 2024. Hundreds of archers from 40 different countries will compete. 

Experience Indigenous Culture: Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park 

Since time immemorial, Indigenous Peoples have lived in the Lac La Biche region and there are many ways to experience their cultures and traditions.

For us it was as simple as enjoying an overnight stay in a tipi at Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, the only Alberta provincial park on an island. 

Built in collaboration with Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre, the tipis provide an Indigenous cultural experience for campers and help to support the Friendship Centre. It’s definitely not roughing it. 

Our tipi had a beautiful view of the lake, comfortable beds, electricity, a washroom and a kitchen. We enjoyed a bonfire and sunset walk along the lakeshore. 

More Indigenous Tourism experiences: there are many Indigenous tourism experiences in this region. A few others include Métis Crossing, Hideaway Adventure Grounds, Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre giftshop and the Beaver Lake Cree Nation Powwow.

When you go

Lac La Biche, in Alberta's northeast, is an easy day trip from Edmonton, but you'll want to spend the weekend in this land of lakes and culture. 

Getting there
from Edmonton: ~ 2.5h drive, via AB-28E to AB-36N 

Things to do in Lac La Biche Region
Cruise the culture of Lac La Biche, with an itinerary built from the suggestions in this story:

For more travel inspiration, visit Lac La Biche Region or keep reading for more Lac La Biche stories.  

Where to stay
Lac La Biche Region has excellent camping, where you can experience the effect of staying in a tipi, or a trapper's tent, go backcountry, or—for those seeking a little more creature comfort—friendly and welcoming motels and hotels. You can find more info here.

 

About the writer
Debbie Olsen is an award-winning Métis writer and a national bestselling author. Follow her adventures at www.wanderwoman.ca.

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