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The Heritage Trails are presented courtesy of CKUA Radio Network and Cheryl Croucher

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New Communities

Bird’s eye view of High River, Alberta, early 1900’s. The Medicine River flowing through the town of Markerville, Alberta in 1905. The general store in Olds, Alberta between 1890-1893. Slowly, as more and more settlers arrived, subsistence farming grew into a thriving rural agricultural economy, and hundreds of small villages and towns began to dot the countryside to serve the needs of farming families. Most of these small towns developed along the railway lines, or at least in areas that were expected to be served by the railway. While the social and cultural life of each town may have been shaped by the cultural background of its inhabitants, it was the social life in the community that brought together the townspeople and the farmers and ranchers. Churches, schools, shops, and community leagues all served as not only places of congregation but also as places where these early settlers could interact with new people, find entertainment, and look for support when needed. While the townspeople realized that their own prosperity depended on the rural community to sell their services, the great majority of the population was engaged in farming, making agricultural issues the dominating concern of these organizations. Here we would like to share with you the story of how many of these communities developed and the important roles of institutions such as the rural schoolhouse and community hall.

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  • Cardston - Learn about the history of some of the first Mormon settlers in Alberta who settled in what is now Cardston.
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  • Community Halls - Learn about Alberta's first rural Community Halls, which had their heyday between 1914 and 1945.
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  • Kepler Creek - Find out about the adventurous man that gave Kepler Creek its name.
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  • Parlby Lake - Hear about the brothers who gave Parlby Lake its name.
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  • Towns: Grande Prairie - Grande Prairie City was marketed heavily for settlement in the early part of the twentieth century, but its advantages as a community were always clear.
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  • Peace River - The northern Peace River Crossing remained a unique settlement for many reasons, even after the railway arrived in 1916.
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  • Grouard- Grouard had valuable resources and was once called "the Edmonton of the north." So why has Grouard ceased to exist as an incorporated town?
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  • Cottage Schools - Cottage schools were constructed to provide a temporary space for schooling, but the cottage school in North Red Deer continued to be used until the 1960s.
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  • Dominion Day Celebrations - Many of the larger Alberta towns were celebrating Dominion Day by the 1880s. Learn about these festivities throughout the years until 1927.
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  • Cemetery Day in Raymond - Cemetery Day is celebrated in a certain Alberta town each summer. Hear about the cultural history of this day, and which town continues to celebrate it!
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  • Victoria Day - Victoria Day was a way of celebrating Canada's connection to Britain and its monarch, Queen Victoria. Listen to learn more about Canadian patriotism years ago.
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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.