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(Cree: Bear Hills)

Hobbema (1891–2013)
Country Canada
Province Alberta
Established 1891
Name change January 1, 2014
 • Land 0.23 km2 (0.09 sq mi)
 • Total 60
  Population and land area are of the designated place portion of the community only.
Time zone UTC−7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Postal code
T0C 1N0
Alberta Central Railway Museum
Hobbema's Alberta Grain Co. grain elevator, now located at the Alberta Central Railway Museum

Maskwacis known as Hobbema prior to 2014, is an unincorporated community in central Alberta, Canada, a portion of which is designated a hamlet within Ponoka County. A portion of the community is also recognized as a designated place by Statistics Canada under its previous name of Hobbema. Maskwacis is located near the intersection of Highway 2A and Highway 611, approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi) south of the City of Edmonton.

The area was originally known as Maskwacis and Father Constantine Scollen always referred to it as "Bear Hills" when he attempted to re-establish a Catholic mission there, in late 1884 and 1885, around the time that he and Chief Bobtail succeeded in persuading the young men not to join the "Riel Rebellion" of that year. It was named Hobbema after Meindert Hobbema during the construction of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in 1891. The community, including the hamlet portion within Ponoka County, was renamed Maskwacis (meaning "bear hills" in Cree) on January 1, 2014.

The community has an employment centre, health board and college.


The community straddles the boundaries between the Ermineskin Cree Nation reserve, the Samson Cree Nation reserve and Ponoka County. The northern portion of the community is located within the Ermineskin reserve on the west side of Highway 2A. The southern portion of the community is located within the Samson reserve on the east side of Highway 2A and north side of Highway 611. The remaining portion of the community is located within Ponoka County on the west side of Highway 2A across from the Samson reserve portion of the community and south of the Ermineskin portion of the community.

The Ermineskin portion of the community is located within Census Division No. 11, while the Samson reserve and Ponoka County portions are located within Census Division No. 8.

Maskwacis is primarily a First Nation community that serves four reserves of Cree First Nation band governments. The four reserves are collectively known as the "four nations", which are party to Treaty Six. In addition to the previously mentioned Ermineskin Cree Nation and Samson Cree Nation, the other two members of the "four nations" are the Louis Bull First Nation and the Montana First Nation.


As a designated place in the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Maskwacis (Hobbema) recorded a population of 60 living in 21 of its 22 total private dwellings, an increase from its 2011 population of 0. With a land area of 0.27 km2 (0.10 sq mi), it had a population density of 222.2/km2 (575/sq mi) in 2016.

Despite the designated place portion of Maskwacis having a population of 61 people living in 17 total dwellings in the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada reported the designated place had no population and no dwellings in the 2011 Census. The designated place has a land area of 0.23 km2 (0.089 sq mi).

The population of the "four nations" that surround Maskwacis was 7,582 in the 2011 Census, including 1,874 living on the Ermineskin 138 IR, 1,309 on the Louis Bull 138B IR, 653 on the Montana 139 IR and 3,746 on the Samson 137 IR.

Education and culture

The community is home to Maskwachees Cultural College.

It was once home to Ermineskin Indian Residential School.

It is home to an annual pow wow.

CHOB-TV is a television station in Maskwacis.

Pioneering, award-winning First Nations hip-hop groups War Party and Team Rezofficial are from Maskwacis.

Award-winning country singer Shane Yellowbird is from Maskwacis.

Briar Stewart made an award-winning documentary, "Journey to Jamaica", about a group of cadets from Maskwacis.

W. P. Kinsella wrote a number of short stories which were set in what was then called Hobbema, including the collections Dance Me Outside, The Fencepost Chronicles, Brother Frank's Gospel Hour, and The Secret of the Northern Lights. The stories "met with controversy from some critics who objected to Kinsella's appropriation of Native voice and what they saw as stereotype-based humour."

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