Fort McMurray is a place accompanied with an incredible history. I have never heard of this location until the forest fire that has happened last May 2016 where thousands of residents were evacuated. But before the incident, Fort McMurray is a land rich with natural resources and people from different groups. Let me share with you the history of Fort McMurray & how a team of experts called Scaffolding Pros are making it their mission to bring this small city out of the ashes.
Before the Europeans arrived, the Indigenous people Cree and Chipewyan are the occupants of the present Fort McMurray. During summer, the Cree live by hunting, fishing, gathering berries, and reconnecting with other bands. While in winter, the people disperse through canoe, snowshoe, and toboggan. They hunt moose and elk using bow and arrow. They also hunt caribou by snares or spears. On the other hand, Chipewyan people have a migration pattern that is similar to the animal, caribou.
The first North West Company fur trading post was established in 1789. Fur trade expanded west during the end of 19th century. The Cree and Chipewyan became more civilized. From hunting, the people became capable of individual fishing where they would catch a prey alone rather in groups. Another group called Metis moved into Fort McMurray where they became workers for the companies, North West and Hudson’s Bay.
During the 1890s, potential oil and mineral reserves were discovered in the are of Lake Athabasca. The people of Cree, Chipewyan, and Dane-zaa signed a treaty prepared by the government. The Treaty 8 gives the indigenous population reserves, annual cash payments, and rights for hunting and fishing as long as they give the lands to the government. The Metis, however, did not join in the treaty. But, they signed certificates called scrips where they will receive a one-time cash payment in exchange for the lands.
Europeans first came in the area when Peter Pond, a fur trader, began a series of trading posts. Then, during 1870, Hudson’s Bay Company was established by H.J. Moberly who made the fort a terminal for a steamboat route. After the first voyage, Fort McMurray became popular as a trading area. Railways were built in the late 1800s by the government aiming to reach the different parts of Alberta for resource development. Fishing businesses began after the railway was built.
While looking for oil, the Northern Alberta Exploration Company found salt at the Horse river instead. The company began operating a salt mine in the area until larger salt beds were found to the east of Edmonton at Elk Point where operations were moved.
When Great Canadian Oil Sands began construction on the site in 1964, the modern Fort McMurray was born. The population grew immensely. After 10 years, Syncrude Canada began another project which led to another population growth to 37,000. As the demand for oil increased, the population also increased to 47,705 in the late 1990s. Due to the population growth, a problem with the transportation, housing, social and municipal services began. The government began a remedy in 2012 by transferring crown land to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Now, Fort McMurray has eight neighborhoods aside from the smaller communities and the five First Nations and Metis locals.
In May 2016, a forest fire almost destroyed the area. It happened when the temperature reached above 30˚C, and the humidity dropped below 15%. Due to the dry condition, the fire erupted and affected 500,000 hectares of land. More than 80,000 residents were forced to evacuate. 2,400 structures were destroyed by the fire which is 10% of Fort McMurray. Today, the people of Fort McMurray are doing everything to help in restoring and rebuilding of structures. One particular company that has a huge role in the construction is Scaffolding Pros. It is a leading company in Fort McMurray that specializes in scaffolding and construction processes using the latest technologies.