Center of Alberta


  Centre of Alberta

   Born and raised in the Swan Hills area, Roy Chimiuk knew that this part of    northern Alberta was really the center of Alberta. As a surveyor with 20    years experience with All-Can Engineering and Survey he was able to    calculate Alberta's measurements, vertically and horizontally. Where the    two crossed was the Geographic Center Of Alberta. 

   With the easy part done Roy Chimiuk now had to "Journey to the Center of   Alberta" and mark the exact spot. Cutting out the five (5) kilometer path    from the rugged and heavily forested area was a physical challenge. This    task opened up a piece of Alberta history that had been locked in the silent    forest.

   The path leads you through the beautiful boreal forest and opens to a small    clearing where a cairn waits for you. This cairn has a grizzly cub sitting on    a stone pillar which was created in 1993 by mason Horst Lutz.

On the front of the cairn is a plaque commemorating the involvement of the Grizzly Trail Promotional Society, the  Honorable Ken Kowalski and Roy Chimiuk.

A Swan Hills Grizzly paw print is inset on the back of the cairn. The Swan Hills Grizzly is a sub-species of the  grizzly bear also known as the Great Plains Grizzly. This grizzly is the second only in size to the Kodiak Grizzly. To insure that the center is not forgotten and remembered only by the forest, a time capsule was place in the cairn. This twenty five year capsule is due to be opened in 2018. On September 10, 1989 the Center of Alberta was officially recognized when one hundred (100) people made the  hike to the geographical center.

The Honorable Ken Kowalski, MLA for the Barrhead - Westlock - Swan Hills riding dedicated the site, recognizing the efforts of Rod Chimuik, the Grizzly Trail Promotional Society, and all that take the time to Journey to the Center of Alberta.

Alberta Special Waste Treatment Facility


For information or questions; call Suez, operators of the Waste Treatment Facility at 780-333-4197.

Next to its pristine beauty and natural recreational opportunities, the town of Swan Hills is perhaps best known as the home of the multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art Swan Hills Treatment Centre.

First built by the provincial Government of Alberta in 1987, the plant underwent an $85 million expansion in 1992, and is now a fully-integrated facility able to treat all forms of hazardous waste as well as their residues. The plant is currently owned by the Government of Alberta and operated by Earth Tech (Canada) Inc.

The plant currently accepts hazardous waste from across Canada, ranging from household waste gathered in community toxic-roundups and chemical laboratory waste from schools to hazardous wastes generated by industrial facilities across the country including Polychlorinated Biphenyl’s (PCB’s).  The Swan Hills Treatment Centre is the only treatment and disposal facility in Canada that is licensed to accept high level PCB’s for treatment.

The 320-acre plant, which employs approximately 110 people, destroys hazardous waste in a number of ways. Treatment process includes high temperature incineration (one rotary kiln incinerator with an annual capacity of 35,000 tonnes per year); physical/chemical treatment (for the treatment of inorganic liquids such as acids and bases) and stabilization/solidification (for the stabilization of treatment residues before placement in the Centre’s engineered landfill).

In order to comply with Alberta's strict environmental regulations, the plant not only treats the initial hazardous waste it receives, but also applies the same processes to the residue from these processes. Ash from the incinerators is put through the stabilization/solidification process to remove any remaining toxins. Annual third party testing of the incinerator performance has consistently shown a destruction removal efficiency of 99.99999% which is significantly better than the required regulation.

How does the town feel about having a hazardous waste treatment plant located nearby?  As a matter of fact, they feel great – because they asked for it.  The key aspect in the development of the facility and it s treatment systems was the support of the town  The Alberta government was basically the leader in the site selection process, and they used an innovative approach of requesting volunteer communities. Swan Hills volunteered as a potential host community and a referendum was held in the town, with 79% of the people voting in favor of hosting the Treatment Centre; there’s been an on going positive relationship between the town and the Centre ever since. . There’s an active liaison committee comprised of volunteers from the town's residents and Earth Tech (Canada) Inc. staff meets on a monthly basis to discuss issues.

Not only is the plant a major industry for the town, but because of its state-of-the-art design and processes, it has become a stopping point for many international delegations. Government and industrial leaders from around the world have toured the plant to learn about developing hazardous waste technology in their own country.

Swan Hills Treatment Centre
Mail Bag 1500
Swan Hills, AB
T0G 2C0
Web Site:

Visitor Info Centre

The Officers Quarters at the Judy Creek Young Offenders Camp began its life as a part-time hobby for Corrections Officers stationed at the facility, but it grew into a permanent structure that served the camp for nearly seventeen years.

In the late 1960’s, the Judy Creek facility was used as a minimum security camp for adult offenders. At this time, the three corrections officers assigned to Judy Creek lived and worked out of a small travel trailer, a structure too small and crowded for their needs.

These officers, Tom Brown, Lloyd Goodwin and Harold Riggs, decided to do something about their quarters. They began designing a log cabin.

Work on the structure that was to be approximately 16 feet wide by 32 feet long, began during the first week of May 1970.  Goodwin and Riggs worked at designing and managing the project while Brown, the youngest member of the staff, looked after the physical construction.

Strictly a part-time project construction of the cabin was carried out during weekends and on days off. The cabin was completed at the beginning of October 1970.

The cabin is constructed of spruce and lodge pole pine logs, all of which were harvested within a quarter mile of the cabin site. With the aid of inmates, Brown would fall the logs and tow them to the construction site using a 4-wheel drive pick-up truck.

Once at the site the logs would be peeled and cut to length. The cabin was not constructed using the traditional cut and groove method, but instead was built by piling the logs and then spiking them to 2” X 10’ posts.

To provide for proper insulation, fiberglass strips were used to chink between the logs.

The fiberglass was then held in place by nailing wooden slats over them.

To act as additional insulation, six to eight inches of sawdust gathered during the cabins construction was spread above the cabin’s plywood ceiling.

The fiberglass, the plywood for the ceiling, the roofing shingles and the nails used by the officers were the only non-native materials used in the cabin’s construction. One estimate placed the cabin’s entire construction cost at less the $300.00, not counting the electrical and heating systems that were later installed.

After the main construction was completed, windows and doorways were made by simply cutting holes into the cabin’s sides. The original trailer used by the officers was later pressed into service as a tool shed.
In March 1987 when the Judy Creek camp was closed, the logs of the cabin remained firm. They showed no sign of decay with the exception of one base log which had begun to rot away. The cabin was then donated by the Alberta Solicitor General to the Town of Swan Hills for use as the Swan Hills Tourist Information Booth.

The Swan Hills Tourist Booth is open during the summer months and carries brochures of Alberta Communities. You also can stock up on all of your Swan Hills souvenirs.

Trapper Lea's Cabin

trapper leasTrapper Lea's cabin is the oldest historical site in the Swan Hills' area.

The smaller of the two cabins on the site was first built in 1938 by George Leas, a trapper who came to the Swan Hills from his home in Hudson, Michigan, U.S.A. to establish his first trap line. Five years later, he built the larger cabin, where he lived for another 9 years while he made a living trapping wolves and bears for their pelts. In 1943, Leas was proclaimed the "wolf king" of Alberta for having trapped the largest number of wolves.

Leas left Swan Hills in 1960 to return home to Michigan, and the abandoned cabin served as a campsite for various forestry crews.

In 1977, the Swan Hills Chamber of Commerce undertook the site as a community project, and spent the next four years restoring both of the cabins.

Time and the elements have taken their toll on the two cabins. One of the cabins had to be dismantled due to safety issues. The second is still standing.

Goose Mountain Ecological Reserve

Just northwest of the Town of Swan Hills lies the Goose Mountain Ecological Reserve - home to 16 plant species rare to the province of Alberta, including orchids (see table below)

The reason for this pocket of rare flora has to do with Swan Hills' elevation. Being the highest point in the province at 1180m above sea level allows for the development of a sub-alpine ecosystem not found anywhere else on the prairies.

As an ecological reserve, the 5,780 hectare area is protected from motor vehicle traffic, sample gathering expeditions and any other activity that would disturb the plant life. However, it is open to hikers, photographers and those who enjoy a non-intrusive and non-destructive natural experience.

The Goose Tower Road is a privately owned oilfield road that is subject to weather. The main soil base is clay shale with moisture quickly turns in to a greasy mud. It is recommended that if you plan on visiting the Reserve; use a four wheel-drive vehicle, monitor the weather, and ensure that some one knows your plans. The weather changes quickly and drastically in this area and the roads quickly become impassable.

Angelica Genuflexa
Kneeling Angelica
6 locations in Alberta
Carex Deflexa
Bent Sedge
3 locations in Alberta
Carex Loliacea
Ryegrass Sedge
3 locations in Alberta
Carex Trisperma
Three Seeded Sedge
3 locations in Alberta
Coptis Trifolia
Gold Thread
8 locations in Alberta
Cystopteris Montana
Mountain Bladder Fern
6 locations in Alberta
Dryopteris Phegopteris
Northern Beech Fern
The Swan Hills is one of the two known locations east of the Rocky Mountains.
Epilobium Leptocarpum
Slender Fruited Willow Herb
4 locations in Alberta
Gulium Palustre
Very rare in Alberta, 2 known locations are Swan Hills and Jasper National Park.
Lycopodium Selago
Rock Club Moss
Located only in the Rocky Mountains, the extreme east corner of Alberta and Swan Hills.
Oploponax Horridum
7 locations in Alberta
Pohlia Proligera
Pohlia Moss
Swan Hills is the only known location in Alberta.
Ranunculus Uncinatus
Hairy Buttercup
8 locations in Alberta
Sphagnum Majus
Peat Moss
Only other known location in Alberta is Wood Buffalo National Park.
Streptopus Streptopoides
Small Twisted Stalk
Only known location in Alberta is Swan Hills
Tiarella Trifoliata
False Mitrework
This plant is rare in Alberta. Found only in Swan Hills and west of Whitecourt.
Tiarella Trifoliate
Lace Flower
6 locations in Alberta
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