There are five hamlets in Big Lakes County: Enilda, Grouard, Joussard, Kinuso, and Faust.
Grouard, Faust, Joussard, and Kinuso are located on or near Lesser Slave Lake. All hamlets but Ground are approximately 1-2 kms from Alberta’s major north-south highway, Highway 2. Enilda, is along Highway 2, just 15kms east of High Prairie.
Each hamlet has a unique character that enriches the culture of Big Lakes County. Click on each hamlet below to learn more.
Kinuso is a hamlet at the foot of the Swan Hills and a short drive from Lesser Slave Lake. The name Kinuso comes from the Cree word kinosew, meaning fish. The hamlet is adjacent to the Swan River First Nation reserve.
Kinsuo is home for 182 people. It has a school and all the amenities one would expect in a self-sufficient town. The Kinuso Mercantile (Home Hardware) is a much-talked-about general store that draws locals and visitors. It has everything! Like a proper general store of the past.
The Kinosayo museum is located just outside of the hamlet. It has a variety of displays that depict several aspects of life in the days of pioneerism. The Kinosayo Museum was founded in 1983 and is run by a volunteer board; people in the local area have donated the majority of the collection. For those interested in wildlife, the Kinosayo Museum has one of the most developed wildlife exhibits in Northern Alberta. The Kinosayo Museum does not charge an entrance fee to view the museum; however, donations are greatly appreciated.
The “Thank You. Please Come Again” sign at the marina in Faust has a fish on it for a reason. The fishing is good here, really good. Because of where Faust is situated, it can be windy on other parts of the lake, but quite a bit calmer in Faust.
Faust is home for 261 people in the winter months. Its population increases in the summer when people come to enjoy a relaxing vacation along the lake at one of the camp grounds. Faust is located 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) north of Highway 2. It is named after E. T. Faust, a railroad officer.
In the last decade, Joussard has awoken from a sleepy fishing village on Lesser Slave Lakes’ shores to become a vibrant tourism and lifestyle destination, attracting all ages to live and visit year round. Families and retirees can find affordable properties — land, houses, cabins, and RV spots — to buy or rent. Joussard is an ideal community for people who want to enjoy recreation and relaxation every day or on their holidays.
In the winter, the lake becomes an ice fishing mecca. There are over 100 ice fishing shacks gathered in a little village just in front of Joussard. Shacks are available for rent. Open air fishing is an option, too. There is an annual ice fishing derby for those who would like to turn a cold day into a hot competition. Just don’t forget to buy a fishing license from one of the local stores. A fishing license is required in both summer and winter. And please be sure to follow local ice fishing safety rules.
In the summer, the lake is peppered with sail and mortar boats, kayaks, paddle boards, water skiers, swimmers, and windsurfing boards. In the evenings, you will see people gathered around a fire pit after a steak barbecue singing songs and looking at stars. Camping is a way of life. It’s no surprise that there are many resorts, campgrounds, and subdivisions to choose from in Joussard. There is a public marina, and Western Canada’s largest inland marina, which has over 450 boat slips. That marina was built at Shadow Creek Resort in 2014. Shadow Creek is just one of many resorts and developments that are attracting people from far and wide.
Joussard is a great place to call home. The hamlet has a brand new primary school, two stores, a community hall, a church, walking trails, and more. There is a strong sense of community in Joussard. As of 2016, 233 people lived year-round in Joussard, which is 2kms from Highway 2. That population more than doubles in the summer.
Grouard has a rich past and a bright future. The hamlet is one of the oldest settlements in Alberta and was once an important trading hub of the north. The area was first known as Fort Waterloo and later took the names Lesser Slave Lake Settlement and also Lesser Slave Lake Post.
When Bishop Émile Grouard arrived in the community in the late 1800s, he commissioned the construction of the current church, then a cathedral. It was completed in 1902 and stands today as a Provincial Historical Site and vital part of the community. In 1903, Ground was a town with a population of 1,000. The population declined dramatically when the rail the railway was built 12 miles (19 km) south of Grouard. Today, there are 255 residents in Grouard.
Grouard may no longer be a key stop on the fur trade route, but it is an important Indigenous cultural hub. Both Cree and English are spoken in the community, which neighbours Kapawe’no First Nation. The Native Cultural Arts Museum is a destination for quality learning experiences that respectfully portray the history, cultures, and languages of northern Alberta.
The museum is part of Northern Lakes College, which has main offices in the community. Northern Lakes is a distance-learning college with campuses in over 50 communities, including 15 First Nations and 4 Metis settlements, throughout Northern Alberta. Northern Lakes College’s mission is to provide quality educational programs and services which enable adults to continue their education, to improve their employment opportunities, and to enhance their quality of life. This is done with respect for cultures and the needs of communities.
Grouard is located 13 kms from Highway 2. It is home to thriving Indigenous cultures, a strong and innovative educational institution, and breathtaking views. The right broadband infrastructure and entrepreneurial vision could make Grouard a tech hub of the north. Or maybe you see another opportunity? The possibilities are endless. We predict that Grouard’s time to shine again is just around the corner.
It’d be a shame to pass by Enilda when driving along Highway 2. The community of 155 residents is home to a fun 5-pin bowling alley and a community hall that holds a thriving weekly Farmer’s Market. The local economy was built on farming and forestry.
Today, Enilda and area is home to innovation. Christie’s Gardens and Greenhouses, an award-winning greenhouse is just down the road. So is EC Bar and Ranch, an adventure ranch that has one of Alberta’s largest corn mazes. The first rural farm truck in Alberta, The Farm Truck, was founded near Enilda, too. The community is an entrepreneurs’ hotspot.
Enilda definitely has great potential for more agri-tourism and family fun, real estate development, and more. It also has a beautiful name. “Enilda” is actually Adline Tompkins’ name spelled backward. Adline was an early postmaster’s wife.