Great Books

Determination, adventure and a new frontier…



The history of Northern Alberta is one of determination, adventure and a new frontier. A fur trading route connecting the river transportation routes of the north, Fort McMurray and other trading posts sprung up along the Athabasca and Clearwater in the late 1700s. Little would anyone realize what was in store for the region in the centuries to come.

The Jeans and City Centre Group Inc. are proud to have published four books about the history of Fort McMurray. View our books on by clicking here.

  • More Than Oil: Trappers, Traders and Settlers of Northern Alberta
  • A Place We Call Home
  • Tales of the Tar Sands
  • People of Our Past

More Than Oil: Trappers, Traders and Settlers of Northern Alberta

by Frances Jean

More Than Oil: Trappers, Traders and Settlers of Northern Alberta

This historical non-fiction is a collection of stories and anecdotes about the people and history of Northern Alberta. It offers a fascinating and personalized glimpse into the history of this beautiful region. Reading like a casual conversation between author and reader, More than Oil starts with the First Peoples of Northern Alberta and continues on to trace through the years as trappers and traders, pioneering families, and eventually industry, made their way into the region. A great story-telling book, it tells about notable individuals and families who ended up in Northern Alberta and the roles they played in its evolution and growth.

Readers can learn about the explorer, the soldier, the founder, the first postmaster, the bush pilots and many others. There are tales about the trading companies – The Hudson’s Bay Company and their rival the North West Company – and the forts that used to stand at the convergence of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers. It also includes historical lessons such as the day Treaty 8 was signed down at the Snye (now a lagoon that was once a tributary flowing between the Athabasca and Clearwater).

From early on, this area had been key area for trade and transportation, but as highlighted in the book, nobody knew it would become the economic engine of the nation producing over 8% of Canada’s GDP. More Than Oil is an intriguing history with stories of strength, determination, perseverance and the spirit of adventure and a book that anyone interested in Canadian history should read. $25

The Place We Call Home – A History of Fort McMurray As Its People Remember

by Irwin Huberman with chief editing by Frances Jean

The Place We Call Home – A History of Fort McMurray as its People Remember

The Place We Call Home begins with the great flood that created the Clearwater and Athabasca River valleys and goes on to record the early explorers, early residents and gives a history of the early days of oil sands pioneers and the development of the first oil sands plants. The growth of the small town, 100 residents in 1900, to one of Alberta’s major cities is recorded with the dreams and struggles of its residents. In the 1920s a rail line finally connected the tiny community to the “outside” and in the same years, the Snye between the two rivers, was summer and winter, a base for bush pilots and their planes. In those years all transport to the north came to McMurray by rail, was loaded onto barges and transported as far north as the Arctic Ocean. In the late 1960s a road connected the growing town to the rest of the province.

Rapid development of the oil sands industry brought its own challenges to the people of the town. Irwin Huberman tells his story well, and helps us understand the community that now is the economic engine of Canada. The author meanwhile pursued a mid-life dream to become a rabbi and serves at a long established synagogue on Long Island, New York.

He researched and wrote the book, interviewing over 200 people, at the request of a non-profit society who raised money to produce a book and record Fort McMurray’s early history. Now in its third printing, financed by the Jeans’ company, it is a widely distributed book to anyone interested in northern history. $25

Tales of the Tar Sands

Tales of the Tar Sands

First written for radio by Dorothy Dahlgren who was a keen researcher of Alberta’s history, Tales of the Tar Sands is a tale of the people who lived in Fort McMurray in the early days. In the mid-1970s Dorothy gave her radio scripts to the Jeans and Frances Jean edited them and had them printed in their local print shop. Mrs. Dahlgren told stories of riverboat captains, trappers, early settlers and “The Wonderful Light of Pelican Portage”, a story of an experimental gas find that just couldn’t be capped.

People of Our Past

People of Our Past

A continuation of the Dorothy Dahlgren’s stories about the early days of Fort McMurray, this book picks up where Tales of the Tar Sands left off, entertaining readers with stories of the settlers of early Fort McMurray and their exploits.

Unfortunately both Tales of the Tar Sands and People of Our Past are now out of print. However, we are currently taking pre-orders.

Cooking With Memories

Cooking With Memories

Cooking with Memories  is a collection of recipes compiled from Frances Jean’s family. From Nova Scotia to the Okanagan Valley, the good cooks of the family used regular farm-based recipes. Easy to make, nutritious, and with ingredients you have in your kitchen.  Each recipe comes with an anecdote about the donor making it an interesting read; a little history with each recipe. $20

Books are available for purchase as City Centre Auto Wash, Heritage Park, The Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre, and the Oilsands Discovery Centre. For mail order, or any other inquiries, please call  780-742-2222.


780-742-2222 |