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Mormon, Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints

Prior to World War I, the largest group of American settlers that came to Alberta were the Mormons or Latter-day Saints (LDS) from Utah. In 1887, hoping to escape persecution regarding the practice of plural marriage, Church leader Charles Okra Card took advantage of Canada's settlement policy to relocate to Alberta. This decision resulted in the establishment of Cardston, the first permanent LDS settlement in Canada, and the subsequent erection of the first Mormon temple built outside of the United States.

After the Mormon Church officially abandoned the practice of polygamy in 1890, LDS immigration to Alberta became more accepted and dramatically increased. From numbering at fewer than 400 in 1891, LDS populations in southern Alberta rose to over 10,000 by 1911. Cardston continued to grow and other new LDS communities like Stirling and Magrath were also founded.

In 1912 LDS officials commissioned the design of a new temple to be built in Cardston to accommodate the spiritual needs of the increasing Mormon population of southern Alberta. Designs by Salt Lake City architects Hyrum Pope and Harold Burton were eventually chosen and in 1913 dedication and groundbreaking ceremonies took place. The original estimated cost for the temple was $100,000, but by 1923, when it was finally completed, the actual cost was $750,000. Subsequent renovations occurred from 1964 until 1966 and again from 1988 to 1991.

The remarkable commitment to build the Alberta Temple is a glowing symbol of the optimism that both the American and Albertan LDS communities had for the future of Mormon culture in Canada. It also proved to be of tremendous significance to the development of southern Alberta in general. The simple existence of the temple provided increased confidence for continued immigration and economic investment. Today, the temple remains an international centre of Mormon spiritual life and continues to be of global architectural significance to both the LDS and non-LDS communities alikeĀ—in 1995 the temple was recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Alberta Temple

Alberta Temple

The Modern Alberta Temple

The Modern Alberta Temple