Long before its present name was adopted in 1903 with the establishment of the first Post Office, Sylvan Lake had been given a succession of names by Cree and Stoney Indians and by map-makers such as David Thompson and the Palliser Expedition.
Heavy timber around the lake made it inaccessible and discouraged early settlement, and it was not until 1899 that Alexander Loiselle and his son Louis came from Michigan with their sawmill to settle at what was then called Snake Lake. By 1902, the District had attracted other settlers and Loiselle built a store and hotel to accommodate the new residents.
Construction of the Alberta Central Railway (1910 - 1914) linking Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House helped to develop the Sylvan Lake area, which by 1923 had 185 residents. As many tourist attractions and facilities were added, the community grew from Village to Town status by 1946.
Residents of Sylvan Lake have always taken an environmentally-conscious approach to development in the community and have always worked towards preserving the lake's natural beauty.
Today, the Town of Sylvan Lake has a permanent population of approximately 10,000 and hosts nearly one million visitors each year, and prides itself on being "A Town For All Seasons" with year-round events, attractions, and facilities for visitors.
The Town of Sylvan Lake is a dynamic community which is experiencing significant growth. In fact, Statistics Canada has rated the Town as one of the fastest growing communities in Canada as well as one of Canada's youngest communities.
Sylvan Lake is considered one of the major tourism destination resorts in Alberta. The Town has the second largest marina in the Province and as such is considered as a preferred recreation destination by provincial residents.
Business opportunities abound and the forecasts from Provincial and Federal agencies show a continuing trend toward the increased growth and development of the Town.
Sylvan Lake is one of the premier communities in the province to live, work, and grow as a family. With an emphasis on protecting natural resources, each new business, development, and event raises the bar for standards within the Town as people continue to choose Sylvan Lake as their home.
In addition to the Town of Sylvan Lake there are the Summer Villages of Birchcliff, Half Moon Bay, Jarvis Bay, Norglenwold and Sunbreaker Cove that share the shoreline of beautiful Sylvan Lake. The Summer Villages have lakefront lots and lake back-lots with access to the lake. These lots are typically larger than the lots in town and offer a lifestyle more like an acreage on the lake. A lakefront lot is many time the price of a lot in town and tend to feature higher end homes. The residents of the Summer Villages are part of the social structure of the Town of Sylvan Lake and participate in the special events and the recreational programs provided by the Town.
Given its central location, tourism is the major economic base for the Town of Sylvan Lake. The community welcomes well over a million visitors year-round and hosts a variety of summer and winter events, making Sylvan Lake one of Alberta's premier recreation destinations.
For more information regarding the tourism attractions in Sylvan Lake, click here.
Sylvan Lake has joined eight other municipalities/counties in promoting summer events within Central Alberta. The website www.albertasweet16.com is an excellent guide for planning a summer vacation.
In addition to a strong tourism economy, Sylvan Lake benefits from its strategic location in the heart of the Edmonton - Calgary Corridor, one of Canada's strongest and most productive economies.
Sylvan Lake's Central Alberta location also means we're home to some of the most prominent oilfield construction, development, and safety companies. As an ever-growing community, we are continuously welcoming new businesses to the community. Wal-Mart, Sobeys and Shoppers Drug Mart have joined Sylvan Lake's business community in 2008.
Sylvan Lake is the perfect destination spot for the entire family at any time of year. The Lake is one of Canada’s ten best beaches and offers a seasonal playground.
Residents and visitors enjoy winter sports like skating, fishing and snowmobiling. All of the possibilities make the long winter season a treat.
There are a wide variety of accommodations ranging from motels to clean, rustic campgrounds. Restaurants offer everything from quick beach food, to quiet, romantic steak dinners.
Sylvan Lake is definitely a summer family destination with our Wild Rapids Waterslide, go-karts, lake cruises, golf courses, water sports and campgrounds. Hockey camps, summer camps, paint-balling and swimming in our award winning Aquatic Center are also excellent reasons to live or visit this town.
You choose the season, and this town will supply the fun. Why not swing into Sylvan Lake in the spring to watch the waterfowl migrate and the lake burst into life? If it’s the summer you love, come take advantage of the lakeshore where there is no end to the possibilities.
Walk along the water’s edge in the fall and experience the sunsets; and if you have the opportunity to drive into town on a crisp, winter day, you’ll see the picturesque view of our frozen lake covered with young families skating, playing shinny and snowmobiling. Sylvan lake is an active town that takes advantage of the winter months in classic Canadian form!
- The Aquatic Centre – Is an 25 meter indoor pool with six lanes with an attached child and tot pool. It also offers a hot tub with a seating capacity of 37 people. All pools are wheel chair accessible with chairs provided by the Aquatic Centre. The swimming pool is utilized for various activities which include swimming lessons, public swimming, birthday parties, scuba diving, snorkeling and fitness classes. There are advanced Red Cross and Lifesaving Society courses such as Water Safety Instructors, National Lifeguard Services and First Aid Courses. The tot pool is brought to life with an umbrella water feature. Water cascades off the dome creating a ‘water fall’ effect. The tot pool is also complemented by a 4ft x6 ft area of bubble jets. The children’s area is enhanced by an anchor which mists water into the pool as well as a small slide for children six years of age and younger. The deep end of the main pool is boasts a 10 ft high climbing wall for added excitement and lots of fun! Basketball and volleyball nets are also set up during public and family swim.
- Medican Multiplex – Is an incredible indoor ice arena that is home to minor hockey teams, a summer hockey camp, recreational hockey and skating club. Other programs include Public Skating programs which including parent & tot skating lessons designed to introduce 2-5 year olds to ice skating, in a fun, relaxed, small-group environment and adult skating lessons for those adults wanting to learn how to skate in a non-judgmental small group environment.
- Other organized sports include Minor Football, Minor Ball and Minor Soccer
Fun and Relaxing Activities:
- Water Sports – Water Sports in Sylvan are endless... Enjoy the crazy thrill and family fun of Wild Rapids Waterslides. Have a blast whipping through the waves on a sea-doo or pleasure boat. Take a plunge off the pier and into Sylvan Lake's crystal waters. Don't let a cold day stop you from taking a dip. Check out our award winning Aquatic Centre. Delight in Sylvan's beauty in one of gorgeous cruises of the lake. See what's under Sylvan surface and scuba dive. Grab an inflatable toy and float on Sylvan's calm waters. Watch the members of the Sylvan Lake Sailing Club race every Wednesday throughout the summer.
- Festivals and events throughout the seasons – Enjoy the varied stalls and wares of the Farmers Market. Let the kids make some new friends at a summer day camp and enjoy how peaceful Sylvan Lake can be. Sign up the kids for a fun-filled hockey camp. Bet on a long chance at the Greyhound race track. Take time to smell the flowers and stroll through Sylvan's overflowing greenhouses. Take a peek at the Alberta Volleyball teams on the pier or even serve up a ball yourself.
- Golfing, Strolling, Relaxation – Play a few rounds of golf at any one of Sylvan's gorgeous courses. Allow Sylvan's fantastic massage therapists to take out some of that tension. Take a stroll along the sandy shore of the lake. Watch the sunrise. Take in a sunset on a patio. Check out the brilliant Northern Lights from your lawn.
- Ball Diamonds, Tennis, Beach Volley Ball, Walking trails – Stop in at the tourist booth and check out some upcoming local events. Recapture your youth with a few all-out rounds of paintball. Satisfy your need for speed at Lakeside Go-Karts. Bat around a few balls at the tennis court. Take advantage of a warm breeze to fly a kit. Grab a friend and toss around a Frisbee on the pier. Clamber over some of the new playgrounds in one of Sylvan Lake’s many parks. Practice some tricks at the skateboard park. Take some time to bike ride around Sylvan Lake. Take the dog for a long walk down CP Rail pathway.
- Annual 1913 Days held in mid June with a variety of activities including a parade and a pancake breakfast at the Fire Hall between 7 -11 am put on by the volunteer Firefighters.
- Canada Day is celebrated with pride on July 1st. In 2008 the Rotary supplied Canadian flags, pins and pride along the beachfront, and children were able to decorate their own birthday cupcake at the Visitor Information Centre. The Royal Canadian Legion offered hotdogs and hamburgers and later led a parade of Canadians along the streets of Sylvan Lake. Then the Rotary then cut into the enormous birthday cake and served it to all excited citizens. It was a fabulous day to call oneself Canadian.
- WinterFest held in February features the Annual Polar Bear Dip where a whole is cut in the ice and several brave souls strip down to swimsuits and give their bodies the shock of a lifetime by diving into the frigid waters of Sylvan Lake.
- Other annual special events include the Half Iron Man Triathlon, Ice Marathon Speed skating Event, Open Water Swimming Championships and Jazz at the Lake Festival.
- In addition to these feature events there is a wealth of recreational, educational, social and special interest programs. There is something for everyone and every age at Sylvan Lake.
Sylvan Lake has over 30 community groups, clubs and organizations that are involved with all aspects of social, recreational, community and religious activities. The community spirit is evident by the success of their many projects. Some groups include the Chamber of Commerce, Fish & Game Club, Heritage Handicraft Society, Art Society, Sailing Club, Curling Club, Brownies/Guides, Block Parents, Beavers/Scouts, Rotary, Communities in Bloom, Junior Forest Wardens, Lions/Lioness, Knights of Columbus, and the Royal Canadian Legion/Legion Auxiliary just to name a few.
Red Deer Regional Hospital provides medical service to the Sylvan Lake area. Other medical services available include three medical clinics, dental clinics, the Sylvan Lake Community Health Centre, three chiropractic clinics, and a physiotherapy clinic.
If you’re concerned about the well-being and quality of life of an aging parent or loved one, the experienced professionals at the Sylvan Lake Lodge will assess the situation, present and evaluate the most appropriate options, offer customized solutions and guide you to the best possible decision.
Bethany Sylvan Lake, located adjacent to the Sylvan Lake Lodge, is a seniors’ community that reflects the values of the small lakeside community in which it is located and enables residents to remain connected with community life. Bethany Sylvan Lake provides a full range of housing, support and care services– making this a true aging-in-place community.
ECS through Grade 12
Sylvan Lake is part of the Chinooks Edge Regional School Division #5, with headquartered in Innisfail and the Red Deer Catholic School Regional Division #39
- C.P. Blakely School with an enrolment of approximately 335 students in kindergarten through grade five.
- Ecole Steffie Woima School with an enrolment of approximately 420 students in kindergarten through grade five.
- Ecole Fox Run School with an enrolment of approximately 415 students in grades six through eight.
- HJ Cody School with an enrolment of approximately 625 students in grades 9 through 12.
- Sylvan Lake Career High School provides an alternative program for students who need flexibility in scheduling to complete their high school diploma students in grades 10 through 12.
- Mother Teresa School located in Fox Run.
- Our Lady of the Rosary School located in Ryder’s Ridge.
- Lighthouse Christian Academy located in the Gospel Chapel.
- Sylvan Meadows Adventist School located just west of town in the Red Deer County.
Post Secondary Education
Red Deer Community College, located in Red Deer, has programs including 1-year certificates, 2-year diplomas, university transfer, apprenticeship and training in technological areas, academic upgrading and continuing education. Degree granting status may be available in the near future.
Sylvan Lake also has access to Edmonton and Calgary based post-secondary institutions.
Sources: Information in this profile has been provided from a variety of sources including AlbertaFirst.com Ltd. and each community’s website. If you find inaccuracies or information you feel needs changing, please contact us directly stating the correction and the source of your information. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy, currency and reliability of the content and data, it is not warranted to be correct.