History

1872: John James MacDonald arrives to work for Hudson’s Bay Company as the first known settler in Fort McMurray. MacDonald sets up residence on “McMurray Island”, which is renamed MacDonald Island after he is allotted the land.

1890s-1910s: The MacDonald family are among the few residents to remain in Fort McMurray after the decline of the fur trade.

1942: The last person to reside on the Island moves away. The land passes into municipal ownership.

1964: The Town of Fort McMurray constructs a dyke between MacDonald Island and the main town site to achieve “New Town” status.

1966: Charles “Chuck” Knight begins campaigning for a year-round recreation facility.

1967: Volunteer groups complete construction on Miskanaw Golf & Country Club.

1971: Chuck Knight gives a charismatic speech outlining the vision for the MacDonald Island Recreation Complex. Backed by the community, Knight is elected to Fort McMurray Town Council and becomes the driving force behind the cause.

1973: Chuck Knight is elected Mayor of Fort McMurray. Knight holds the office until 1979 and again from 1983 to 1989.

1975: Fort McMurray Town Council appoints a Steering Committee to oversee the construction of the MacDonald Island Recreation Complex.

1978: The MacDonald Island Recreation Complex opens. The Complex features the Miskanaw Golf Course, three baseball fields, a football and soccer field, four tennis courts, cross country ski trails, a cricket pitch, archery, and the indoor facility, which includes ice rinks and a 12-sheet curling rink.

1987: Miskanaw Golf Course is lengthened to a par 72.

1993: On behalf of its citizens and its Council, City of Fort McMurray Mayor Guy Boutilier renames the Complex the C.A. Knight Recreation Centre.

1996: Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the presidents of 18 of Canada’s largest oil companies meet at MacDonald Island to sign a historic Declaration of Opportunity outlining further oil sands development in the region.

2005: The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo gives the green light on the redevelopment and expansion of MacDonald Island Park and the C.A. Knight Recreation Centre.

2006-08: The Centre closes for upgrades and repairs.

2009: The Suncor Community Leisure Centre at MacDonald Island Park opens. The Centre is highlighted by two NHL-sized arenas, an eight-sheet curling rink, an indoor playground, two indoor field houses, an indoor running track, a fitness centre, squash and racquetball courts and meeting and banquet facilities, among other world-class amenities.

2010: The Syncrude Aquatic Centre at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre opens, making MacDonald Island Park Canada’s largest community recreation centre. The Aquatic Centre houses an Olympic-sized pool, a splash park, and two water slides.

2011: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake and MacDonald Island Park host an official ribbon-cutting ceremony during the Mi Town, Mi Community Celebration. The street leading to MacDonald Island is renamed C.A. Knight Way and Knight is honoured with a memorial waterfall in the lobby of the Suncor Community Leisure Centre. 

2012: After a series of engagements with community members and public input on design, construction begins on the MacDonald Island Park Expansion Project (MIPEX), which includes an outdoor performance stadium and baseball stadium, as well as several indoor amenities including a non-profit social hub.

2015: Shell Place, formerly known as MIPEX, officially opens to the community with a ribbon cutting featuring the participation of 2,400 community residents. The following day, SMS Equipment Stadium at Shell Place hosts the furthest north exhibition game in CFL history.  The Miskanaw Golf Club also celebrates the completion of a modern redesign and redevelopment.

2016: MacDonald Island Park serves the Wood Buffalo community during the Horse River Fire as a community evacuation centre and as a hub for first responders and essential service personnel. Subsequent to the June 1 re-entry date for the community, Miskanaw Golf Club re-opens on June 8 and the Suncor Community Leisure Centre and Shell Place re-open on June 13.

2018: MacDonald Island Park celebrates forty years of serving the Wood Buffalo region as the centre of sports, recreation, leisure, events and culture and the heart of the community.