Amber Valley

Black pioneers first settled in Amber Valley, nestled in the hills just east of the town of Athabasca, in 1909. This community, located 160 km north of Edmonton, grew in size to nearly 300 families by the late 1930s and became the largest of all the black communities. 

In the early 1930s, a contest was held to rename the settlement; there’s some discrepancy in who actually was the winner, but we do know that the name changed circa 1932 to Amber Valley. 

Black and white photo of Lovenna Fox smiling and kicking her left leg up.

Lovenna Fox

Obadiah Place

Photo of the house that used to be Obadiah Place.

Pine Creek, as the area was originally called, was the only community to have a Masonic Lodge.  A school was established in 1913, the Toles School, as it was called, and the schoolhouse doubled as a church.  Services continued to be held in the school for many years until 1955 when Obadiah Bowen donated some of his land to host a new church. 

An annual picnic was established in 1915 in Pine Creek. The picnic was always held on July 1 – Dominion Day. People from all over the province would come to Pine Creek and the day was filled with games and great food. 

Amber Valley would eventually establish a famous winning baseball team. These players would travel to all the communities, winning games, and hearts with their impressive sportsmanship. The team and the community hit its hay day in the 1930s.  However, it was never an easy life, as pioneers struggled with the harsh climate, short growing season, and poor soil. 

As the Depression hit, times got even tougher for people of this region, and many began to leave the homesteads for work in the city.  Today there are a few descendants still living in the area.  The Amber Valley Community Hall still stands in its original spot and boasts a museum with many artifacts of the region. The hall and adjacent playing field are active and host many events, even the odd baseball game. 

A Tribute to Amber Valley’s Baseball Team

Picture of the Amber Valley Baseball Team

A Poem by Clinton Murphy

We saw “Kenny” in the catcher’s slot
In the days of old renown
And “Forty” with that side-arm curve
Was hurlin’ ‘em on the mound
“TC” was out in centre field
So proud he would almost burst
“Man” was playing second
And “Big J” was huggin’ first
“Doc” was in at short stop
No matter what the count might be
You would always hear him yell “tut, tut”,
I’ll tell the world — it looked pretty good to me”
“Alvin Brown” was deep in left
“Moose” was covering right
And down along that third base line
You were sure to find “Peep-sight”

These boys played well together
Known far and wide for their fame
Win, loose or draw, to them
Fairness was the game
They taught us a lesson
You’re playing for the team’s sake
Play up and play the game

When the last “Great Scorer”
Writes against your name
It won’t be that you won or lost
But how you played the game …