The last two days I went to the oil city of Fort Mc Murray which is a 6 hours drives away from Edmonton. The Road was not as bad as initially feared. The entire town is beautifully situated at the Athabasca River. But certainly its a one business town.
On my trip north east I could already see some of the symptoms of oil: small wells and the in situ facilities for extracting oil from oil sands. If you go north on the highway you see the big open pit mines for both suncor and syncrude. These produce about 20 % of Canads oil production.
The extraction process is technically complicated and hugely energy intensive.