O’Brien Provincial Park is located just south of Grande Prairie, Alberta along the banks of the Wapiti River. Its size is a mere 0.6 square kilometers but it does offer decent day use opportunities. It was named after Lewis James O’Brien who served as a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the Alberta Legislature between 1940-1944.
History of O’Brien
O’Brien obtained his M.D. at the University of Wurzburg, Germany in 1900 and severed with the Canadian Armed Forces in European and African tent hospitals through WWI. After the war, Dr. O’Brien and his family moved to Grande Prairie, Alberta and noted the general lack of reasonable healthcare in the region.
O’Brien would become influential in the development of modern medicine in Grande Prairie and by working with local workers, he was able to build a community hospital with operating rooms and the only X-Ray machine north of Edmonton. The hospital would be expanded in 1929. Dr. O’Brien turned his focus towards education and civic volunteering instead. He served on the Grande Prairie school board and would become President of the Alberta Medical Association. He ran for a Legislative seat in 1940 as with the Unity Movement (AKA Independent Movement) and defeated the Social Credit incumbent William Sharpe. The Unity Movement consisted of the Conservative, Liberal, and the remains of the United Farmers Association. The would be the official opposition for most of their existence, but with the strong Social Credit leadership of William Aberhart, and Ernest Manning – the movement would never form a government in Alberta.
Without the ability to significantly influence politics in favour of Grande Prairie’s interests – O’Brien would retire from politics entirely. The Alberta Government would later name O’Brien Provincial Park in his honour.
Summer at O’Brien
Summertime at O’Brien Provincial Park consists of both water and land based activities. Canoeing, kayaking, and fishing are popular activities in the river. Visitors can also cool off with a swim in the river.
On land, hiking, mountain biking, and geocaching are popular activities.
Winter at O’Brien
In the wintertime, the park offers cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking.
Camping at O’Brien
There is no camping facilities at O’Brien Provincial Park.
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Day Use at O’Brien
The day use area at O’Brien Provincial Park has firepits and outhouses available for visitors to the park. Note that after November 1, the park is closed to vehicle traffic so all access needs to be on foot.
Distances to Alberta Cities
Distance to Calgary: 740km
Distance to Edmonton: 471km
Distance to Red Deer: 592km
Distance to Lethbridge: 943km
Distance to Grande Prairie: 15km
Coordinates: 55°04’10.3″N 118°48’21.4″W