With a population approaching 15,000, Sylvan Lake is one of the largest towns in Alberta. It’s also a young community with 54 per cent of the population under 35 and 26 per cent under 16.
During the summer months, the town draws people from all over Central Alberta and elsewhere to enjoy the town and lake, generally full of sailboats, motorboats, jet skis and those enjoying a host of watersports.
On weekends, the picnic and playground area along the beach is packed with visitors. Lakeshore Drive is lined with a variety of places to eat, patios to enjoy a cool summer beverage and shops to browse. Accommodations for those visiting Sylvan range from hotels along Lakeshore Drive to bed and breakfast options throughout the town.
The winter season stays busy with a different set of activities on the lake. Once the ice is thick enough, the town clears space for people to skate. Ice huts pop up all over the lake with anglers looking to catch the next record size fish. Snowmobiles, motorbikes with ice studs and ATVs are seen on the lake during the cold winter months.
For history buffs, several historical locations are marked with plaques, including with the Sylvan Lake Stone Castle located at 5031-50A Ave., just south of the current newspaper office. Also known as the Château de l’Amour, or the Castle of Love, the castle was built by two of Sylvan Lake’s first entrepreneurs, Raymond and Charles Archambault and their community for Raymond’s bride, Eugenie Marie Marguerite Henriettie Thomi. The castle experienced a fire in late 2018.
When talking with people who have moved to the town, many of them say it was the lake that drew them to this location but the community that kept them here. Discover Sylvan Lake is full of ideas for things to do and interesting facts about what this community has created together.
• Every year in late September, teams on land and in the water come out to clean up garbage. Everything collected is counted and categorized using tally sheets as part of The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a national conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and World Wildlife Fund that works with communities bordering on bodies of water.
• A summer staple in Sylvan Lake is the farmer’s market, a weekly Friday night event on the waterfront, close to the lighthouse. The market is a popular place for people to buy fresh produce, locally made food, and crafts. Starting mid-May, the market runs every Friday evening from 4 to 7:30 p.m until the end of August.
• A new, fun way to see Sylvan Lake is by pedi-cab! Jump on one of the two three-seater cabs with a knowledgeable driver and enjoy the view and history – an easier way to get to the beach from the free parking lots with your belongings.
• The annual historical celebration, 1913 Days typically include a parade and a variety of events, street festival, a drive-in movie and French Market – an open-air street market with a French theme, full of lavender and Paris-inspired décor.
In Sylvan Lake, the summers are long and comfortable, the winters are freezing and is dry.
From Calgary, Sylvan Lake is about 95-minute drive (159.5 km) north via AB-2 N.
From Red Deer, drive west about 20 min (23.8 km) via AB-11.