In northeastern Alberta close to the Saskatchewan border sits Cold Lake, a charming city of 14,000. Located near the spot where a Hudson's Bay Company trading post stood on the shores of the Beaver River, the city today is strongly linked to the military as the home of Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake. The air base has been in place since the 1950s and the city's economy has benefited greatly from its operation. The base hosts the Maple Flag, an advanced aerial combat training exercise, which attracts numerous pilots and support staff to the city for several weeks each year.
The region also houses oil and gas exploration and production operations and the Cold Lake oil sands. The nearby Athabasca oil sands also add to the economy. In terms of recreation, Cold Lake boasts a provincial park, campgrounds and numerous beaches and is a great place to enjoy the outdoors, with opportunities for windsurfing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking and canoeing.
The city's claim to fame, however, is as a birdwatcher's paradise. Cold Lake is one of the richest birding areas in Alberta with over 200 species spread around its clear lakes, marshy wetlands and boreal forests.