Alberta has benefited from having an abundance of natural
resources that has encouraged a healthy economy and stimulated innovation.
Agriculture was one of the earliest recognized resources in
the territory that became
Alberta, as thousands of early settlers traveled west to
establish farms. In the early years, the agricultural industry was the main economic activity. As time went on, however, many who
farmed found other industries to work in, thus reducing the size of the
agricultural workforce. Also, farms have become much larger as
technological advancements have allowed fewer people to cultivate large farms.
As large deposits of coal were discovered in Alberta,
the province became the largest producer of coal in Canada. The coal mining industry's
success led to several inventions like the
magnetic ore separator, and a
coal-cutting machine. Since the 1950s, when petroleum began to replace coal
as the principle fossil fuel, a new era of coal has begun that uses technology
to create more environmentally sensitive fuel forms.
The forestry industry has
developed into an important part of the province's economy. As sensitivities
have increased around ecological issues, forestry has changed from clear cutting
large areas in forests to patch cutting with efforts in reforestation.
Today, the petroleum industry produces more wealth in
Alberta than any other sector of the economy. With the discovery of natural gas
in 1883 at Medicine Hat, and oil at Turner Valley in 1914, to the large oil find
at Leduc in 1947, the oil industry in Alberta has continually grown. Along with the
growth in the energy industry has come innovations like those needed to extract bitumen from the
Alberta oil sands, which are now recognized as one of the largest oil deposits in
Alberta has not relied
entirely on its natural resources
for its wealth, as it is now the third largest producer of manufactured goods in