Welcome to Sights Across Canada! This CJ will follow four small cities in Canada, from the slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the plains of the sprawling prairies, to the shores of the Great Lakes. Although it may at times deviate through time and into the counties around their respective cities, these four will be the headliners, so to speak. And just who are these four cities? Lets have a look...
Regardless, the town survived.. in 1905 it celebrated with the rest of the new province of Alberta as it and Saskatechewan broke off from the North West Territories and became Canadas newest provinces. Times were tough for the Valley, up until the mid 1930's when the Province of Alberta drew up plans for a new highway connecting Banff and Jasper, running through Capilano Valley in the middle. As a key central point in the construction, many workers stayed to live in the valley after World War II (the highway was completed soon after the war broke out, in 1940). Although a relatively unimportant town in terms of the war, the Valley was able to grab a headline in late 1944 when a Japanese fire balloon landed on the valley, causing a fire in the small downtown. The three man fire department quickly snuffed the blaze and were held as the town heroes for years after.
Enjoying its newfound connection with the rest of civilization, the Valley was soaking in the post-war boomtimes. Such was the growth, that by 1960 its population had nearly tripled, reaching 20 000 citizens and holding the position for the 4th largest city in Alberta. To accomodate this new growth, the Province of Alberta began work on a new provincial highway, to travel from Red Deer west until it reached Capilano Valley. The David Thompson Highway (Provincial Highway 11) was completed in 1968 and brought a new wave of visitors to the Valley. Now tapped into central Alberta, the Valley was only a maximum 3 hour drive away from over 2 million people. This has continued the prosperity of the Valley area and today boasts a population of 60 000 strong. The Province of Alberta has began imposing strict restrictions on the growth so as to preserve the nature of the Valley around the city. Many naturalists are outraged that the city was allowed to grow so large and are petitioning the province to put an immediate halt on all new developments. As with most battles, this one will play out for some time (thankfully for the developments, Goliath is probably going to win this one. ).
Moving to the future, the Valley is attempting to rebrand itself as a resort town, to deal with the new provincial restrictions. With more "part time residents", the city can continue its growth economically year round while staying at a relatively stable permanent residents population. Ambitious revitalization plans are in the works to bring some of the run down areas of downtown back to their old prestige, as well as creating a parkway along the length of the riverbank. With plans for the future in place, things look good to continue the Valleys success as a Rocky Mountain cornerstone well through this century and into the next.
For centuries before European settlers set foot on the shores of North America, the Red River area was a popular hunting ground for the Cree First Nations, hunting the wild buffalo that roamed the prairies. Some 50 km south of the current location of the city is an old buffalo jump site, where the Cree would drive herds of bison over a cliff. The area is now a provincial park and gives a clue into the historical culture of the First Nations people. After the European settlers made their way into the continent and the Hudson's Bay Company was formed, outposts were built across the interior of the continent, gaining an ever increasing reach for the trade of supplies and beaver pelts for the British Empire. On the banks of the Red River, Fort Souris was built as a minor trade outpost, 5 km east of the present day site of the city of Red River. It stood relatively unimportant for much of its early history, right through Confederation in 1867.
It wasn't until the North-Western Rebellion that Fort Souris gained a foothold in history. The CPR was furiously building its new railway lines into the western frontier when the Rebellion broke out. Needing a way to transport troops to quell Louis Riel and his followers, the young Government of Canada decided to use the new railway to get the North-West Mounted Police to the closest fort.. this being Fort Souris. Used as a staging point for the troops, the rebellion was quickly put down, Riel being tried and hung in Regina, in July of 1885. While one of the most violent points of Canada's young history, it was also a key cog in completing the coast-to-coast railway. The efficiency of getting the NWMP to the rebellion prompted the government to give the cash strapped rail company enough funds to finish the railway across the pacific, solidifying Canada's claim of the land north of the 49th Parallel.
In 1904, a year before the creation of the Province of Saskatchewan, the townspeople abandonded the old Fort Souris and moved a few kilometers away from the river, establishing the new village of Red River.. now, much closer to the CPR line and in line with a frequently travelled trader route. The town remained once again off the radar for much of the 20th Century, flitting onto the maps as the Trans-Canada bore its way through town in the late 1950's, giving it a solid connection with the rest of the nation.
Through the latter half of the century, the population slowly but steadily increased, peaking in the early '90s, where it remained stagnant for nearly two decades. Now, with the recent development of the Bakken Formation, a geological area which is predicted to contain massive reserves of oil, development has surged in the Red River area. With close proximity to the formation, railway and the Trans-Canada, Red River is poised to become the oil city of the south for Canada through the next decade and in the future to come.
Please note: Actual river location is east of the town (to the right). For temporary composition purposes, it was edited to the location you see.
Near the turn of the 20th century, homesteaders settling down with their new farms didn't have the luxury of the vast highway systems and reliable automobiles to collect supplies and trade. Because of this, settlements were created for convenience. Near the North Saskatchewan River, there were dozens of small towns and villages.. today, most have become amalgamated into the City of Edmonton, but many of them still survive independantly today. Among them is the City of Spruce Grove.
First settled in 1891 by a group of French and Scottish families, the towns name was given in reference to the large groves of spruce and poplar trees spread throughout the countryside. While most townspeople favored Poplar Grove as a name, a town west of the settlement had already made claim on that name.. leaving Spruce Grove as the unanimous name of choice.
In the towns early days, things were simple.. the town itself was located between Century Road and what would become Highway 16, made up of a general store, livery stables, a blacksmith shop, hotel and the Roman Catholic Church. By 1908, with the cities of Edmonton and Strathcona beginning to gain prominence, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway decided to build a line, connecting Spruce with a reliable supply line. A train station was later built south of Highway 16 and a kilometer west of the present day location of the City of Spruce Grove. Business quickly moved to take advantage of the new connection with the rest of the country, and soon became a bustling grain-trading center for central Alberta.
By 1965, the Parkland Highway (Alberta Highway 16A) had been completed on the southern side of the town, giving it a solid connection to the City of Edmonton in the east and its neighboring town to the west, Stony Plain. In the years ahead, the town would grow, attracting new residents with the small town comforts it provides, with the big city benefits just a few minutes next door in Edmonton. In 1986, the town was incorporated as a city and has paved its way into the new millenium with continued growth. This doesn't look to be ending soon as Spruce Grove powers into the future as one of western Canada's fastest growing communities.