CAMROSE ALBERTA THE RAILWAY CITY
Camrose - The Town and District
Every town that springs from the western prairie sod, may be said to be full of latent possibilities. It takes but a few years to give it a permanent classification. In that time it must show some foundation for its aspirations of becoming an important city or town. Railway facilities may give it exceptional prominence, it may have developed a profitable coal mining industry, or its hopes maybe well founded on the strength of it being in the centre of a magnificent agricultural district. In the nature of things in this western country, a town, to be of any consequence, must acquire at least one of these attributes in a marked degree. If it does not it is relegated to the mushroom class and its hopes die with it.
Ever since its rather obscure birth on the C.P.R. line six years ago, it has been the business of Camrose to acquire railway lines. So well has it accomplished this end that it has an undoubted future as a commercial and industrial city. As the centre of a very productive mixed farming district, the town has a three fold grip on posterity. It is our purpose now to show that, from its earliest inception, Camrose was ambitious to grow and that neither as a municipality nor as a community of citizens has it lost sight of this ambition.
A City of Homes
It has frequently been remarked of Camrose citizens, that "they are a good bunch and they all pull together." This may be due to some innate quality of the citizens themselves, or it may be attributed to the nature of their environment. Certain it is that may things combine to make Camrose a desirable place in which to live. The climate is delightful. The citizens are sociable. They are fond of the outdoor life and find recreation at every season of the year. The situation of the town on the north back of a small stream permits of excellent drainage and contributes to a beauteous landscape. The attractive and substantial homes are acquiring all the comforts of life. Low rents and taxes greatly reduce the cost of living in comparison with larger cities. The various railway lines give ready access to provincial centres and to neighboring summer resorts. The things that count for so much, such as good climate, good health, good sport, good living and good citizenship are all to be found in Camrose.
Residents of Camrose view with satisfaction the 1911 census returns which give the town a population of 1,586. Five years ago. Camrose was only a yearling with 412 people. The increase in that time has been 1,174 or nearly 300 per cent. Until a few months ago, the C.P.R. timetable and Waghorne's guide persisted in leaving the population of Camrose at 600. They can now revise their figures and give Camrose its proper place as the largest town on either the C.N.R. or G.T.P. branch lines, and as fifth in rank among the towns of Alberta.
Schools and Colleges
With that enterprise and foresight, with that optimism and unanimity, that has always characterized Camrose, her citizens early took and interest in matters of education. The present school building is one that would well do credit to any city in the Dominion. It is constructed on the latest and most approved principles, and is thoroughly equipped throughout. The School Board has been consistent in its aims and has provided good teachers as well as good schools. To this end, neither effort nor expense has been stinted, and the policy has proved its wisdom in the efficiency of the pupils and in other far reaching directions. The course provided is the full public and high school course, including preparation for teachers' certificates, matriculation and first year university work.
But Camrose possesses another institution of learning which is destined to work out an enviable reputation for the district. With all Alberta to choose from, and with many enticing inducements from other towns and cities, the directors of the Norwegian Lutheran College decided to locate their college at Camrose. A beautiful site of some thirty acres within the town limits has been secured, and the foundation for a large college building, to be followed by others, has already been laid. The college is affiliated with the provincial university, and a course of studies in compliance with university requirements is offered. In addition, courses are opened in business and music under a skilled staff. The institution is non-sectarian and offers the advantage of an education in the particular line desire under home auspices and supervision, when required.
Camrose is proud of its club building, which is operated under the direction of the Camrose Canadian Club. Everything within its sociable doors bears the hall mark of taste and refinement. While the social side of club life is most prominent, lectures and literary evenings are frequently enjoyed by its members.
All the leading denominations are well evidences in Camrose, there being seven churches, each of which draws its full congregation. The churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, United Lutheran and Hauges Lutheran.
Fraternal societies are well organized in Camrose, there being seven in all. A very hearty welcome is extended to fellow lodge men coming here from elsewhere.
The commercial importance of this young metropolis is gauged by the tree backs located here, viz; Merchants, Molsons, and Traders. Business is necessary to their existence just as they in turn are essential to the existence of business. All are located in splendid office buildings, and have built up a strong clientele.
Not the least important of the buildings in the town are the three railway depots. The C.P.R. has recently erected a 300 foot freight shed to accommodate the increasing business. Good freight sheds have been constructed at the C.N.R. and G.T.P. yards.
The local newspaper is the Camrose Canadian, which is published every Thursday. A large and fully equipped job printing plant is run in conjunction.
The two hotels in Camrose, the Windsor and Arlington, are conducted on approved lines, and are so recognized by the travelling public. They are always filled to capacity, so it is well to wire for accommodation at least on day previous to arrival.
Post Office and Telephones
The Post Office business at Camrose has increased so rapidly that the government has purchased a central location and will erect a handsome new building. A site for a Telephone building has also been purchased by the provincial government. The local as well as the rural telephone service has shown great growth in the past year.
The harmony shown by Camrose citizens in all civic undertakings makes municipal ownership highly practical. At the present time the city controls its waterworks, light, power and sewage plants and public hospital.
The electric light plant was first operated in January, 1911, and it has been revenue producing from its inception. The object of the plant is to have the citizens the best possible light and power at the lowest possible rate.
An abundant supply of good pure water is afforded by the Camrose waterworks system. The source at present is deep wells, by bringing water by gravity from neighboring lakes is not at all out of the question. A sewage system in conjunction with the waterworks contributes to the best of sanitation and good living. The system was installed in 1911 at a total cost of $100,000.
There is no doubt in the minds of Camrose citizens as to the marked advantages of a municipal hospital. The local institution has been brought to a high standard of efficiency, and is operated on a sound financial basis. One hundred and fifty-five patients were treated in 1911, as against one hundred in the previous year.
High Standard of Health
The Camrose Board of Health, in making its 1911 report on the health of the town, made the following statement: - "The year just closed has been conspicuous by the absence of ay infectious outbreak; our past precaution as a clean town has again been verified by the absence of any cases of typhoid originating in the town. With our past facilities for the care and disposal of sewage, we consider this state of affairs very satisfactory from a health standpoint. The completion of the new system of waterworks will contribute to even a better condition of affairs pertaining to the sanitary state of the town."
Opening for Dairyman
Continuing, the health report says, "At the present time, the delivery of milk and cream in the town is in a very unsatisfactory state. Some four or five vendors are supplying these products in small quantities, no one man having a large enough herd which will enable him to furnish a constant supply of milk and cream. What is needed badly in Camrose, is an up-to-date dairy, large enough to five the town a uniform and constant milk supply."
Council is Progressive
To the other civic undertakings which mark a progressive town council, there is to be added this year the construction of cement sidewalks along the first two blocks of Main Street. This improvement will be in keeping with the number of two storey business blocks which have contributed to making Main Street a very business-like thoroughfare. Attention is also being paid to the residential streets. The council have arranged to procure thousands of young trees, a portion of which will be reared in the city park, so that they will be ready for transplanting in two or three years. It is the ambition of the citizens to make Camrose the city beautiful.
Board of Trade Active
The two great aims of the Board of Trade have been to build up Camrose as a wholesale centre, and to induce an early occupation of the district. The culmination of work done in this direction, through the medium of a publicity office, has been the sending of a special Camrose car on a tour to eastern points in Canada and the United States. By this means, Camrose was able to get in personal touch with a large number who are coming to make their home in Central Alberta. The undertaking was stupendous, but it admirably served to show the unbounded confidence that Camrose citizens have in the future of their district and of their town.
An opportunity of visiting this rising town of Camrose will be easily afforded all making a tour of western Canada this year. It is now possible to buy a ticket at Winnipeg direct to Camrose over the C.P.R. With a change at Tofield on the G.T.P., or at Vegreville on the C.N.R., Camrose is easily accessible over the other two systems. Before the close of 1912, it is expected that there will be five passenger trains a day from Edmonton to Camrose. When lines now under construction are completed, there will be fourteen passenger trains operating in and out of Camrose every day. This is a record that very few towns in western Canada can surpass.
Excerpt taken from pamphlet issued expressly for The Camrose Special Car Tour Camrose, Alberta, 1912. Courtesy of the Camrose and District Centennial Museum.