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Amber Valley, Alberta facts for kids

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Amber Valley
Country  Canada
Province  Alberta
Region Northern Alberta
Census division 13
Municipal district Athabasca County
Time zone UTC-7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-6 (MDT)

Amber Valley is an unincorporated community in Alberta, Canada, about 160 kilometres (99 mi) north of the capital Edmonton. Its elevation is 608 m (1,995 ft). Originally named Pine Creek, Amber Valley was among several Alberta communities settled by early black immigrants to the province. It is the location of the Obadiah Place heritage site.


See also: Black Canadians

In 1909, a group of 160 Black Canadian homesteaders established the community as a block settlement. The homesteaders, from Oklahoma and Texas, arrived within four years of Alberta becoming a province in 1905.

The settlers were led by Parson H. Sneed, a clergyman and mason, to an area by the Athabasca River. For the first few years it was difficult for them, with the climate harsher than what they were used to back in Oklahoma. They had to develop areas for planting crops and building houses from the ground up. In the end, the settlers were as resilient as their surroundings were tough, and three quarters of them stayed. They built a school house in 1913 and a nondenominational church in 1914. They also had a baseball team that was widely known in the north. Amber Valley became the largest community of black people in Alberta until the 1930s.

Beginning in the 1950s, many descendants of the original settlers began moving to near cities such as Edmonton to escape the rigors of rural life. In Edmonton, many Amber Valley descendants founded the Shiloh Baptist Church, one of the few black churches in Western Canada.

Original Settlers

Willis Reese Bowen organized the original group of five families who moved from Oklahoma to Vancouver and then on to Amber Valley.

  • John King and Stella King, parents of Violet King Henry
  • Willace Bowen or Willis Reese Bowen
  • John Ware
  • Harrison (Parson) Sneed, who is related to Floyd Sneed
  • Hazel Procto

Popular Interest

  • The community was the subject of the 1984 documentary film We Remember Amber Valley, directed by Selwyn Jacob.
  • The setting of Aster in Esi Edugyan's debut novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, is based upon the settlement.
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