The City of Edmonton literally grew out of Fort Edmonton. After the
Palliser and Hind expeditions’ reports, interest in the West increased
both in Canada and Britain. Businessmen seeking opportunities began to
travel to the North West Territories. The Canadian government offered
various incentives to promote development, whether through colonization
companies or industry.
One of the first movements toward a city life out of the fort was the
establishment of a Methodist mission by George McDougall. In 1871, he
claimed land for the mission and parsonage, and actually built the
buildings. It is supposed that the claim was north of the fort because
of where the McDougall church is. His son David took another claim, this
one east of the HBC reserve line.
Others immediately followed him: including Colin Fraser, John
Sinclair, Donald McDonald, James Rowland, William Rowland, Kenneth
McDonald, James Kirkness, John Fraser, James Gullion and George Gullion.
All were ex-HBC men and most were Métis. Donald Ross took a claim which
became the Ross Estate. Malcolm Groat, an ex-HBC man, took up a claim
west of the HBC Reserve. Beyond the Groat estate and the St. Albert
road, John Norris and R. Logan, also ex-HBC men, put up a trading store.
The next section of land was filled in by miners from across the
mountains, from the gold fields: George Gagnon, Edmund Juneau, Dan
Noyes, and Pascal Morichal. Two more miners became farmers in the St.
Albert area: Edmund Brosseau and Octave Majeau (known as Little Majeau).
Gilbert Anderson and James Gibbons took land in Laurier Park. In the
Mill Creek Valley, fronting the river, were Charles Gauthier, George
Kipling, William Maver, and Joseph McDonald whose land was where the
High Level Bridge crosses. Frank Oliver remarked that he had the
experience of personally watching the settlement of Edmonton.
Visitors to the Territories always began their stay with a stop at
the HBC post in the area. There they found most of the creature comforts
to which they were accustomed, but which were not available across the
plains. In conversation with fur trade officers, visitors would listen
for information about business opportunities or new communities. In this
way, around Fort Edmonton there grew a community not directly related to
the Fort or to the fur trade. The residents began their own school by
1890. The community around Fort Edmonton had 700 residents by the time
it became a town in 1892.
The city boomed during the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897, as thousands of
eager gold-hungry prospectors scrambled for the North. Some sought to
travel north via the "All-Canadian Route" and stopped in Edmonton for
supplies. Many travelling this route never came anywhere near the
Klondike, but began communities in the Peace River area instead. Others
decided to settle in Edmonton. By 1904, the settlement had 9,000
permanent residents and was incorporated as a city. The city grew in
importance and the fur trade slowed to a trickle, and eventually the
fort became less important.
As the city grew, many questioned what should be done with the fort.
For some in the community, it merely represented the old order that had
been superseded by the city and province. However, there is evidence of
some discord about dismantling the Fort and when the fort was actually
removed in 1911, many lamented the end of an era. The C&E Railway had
arrived in Strathcona in 1891. The Canadian Pacific and Canadian
Northern Railways had arrived by 1911. In 1912, Edmonton on the north
side of the river and the City of Strathcona on the south amalgamated
with a combined population over 53,000. The High Level Bridge was
completed in 1913, creating another link between the north and south
sides of Edmonton. In 1905, Edmonton’s city centre consisted of western
wood frame storefronts and strolling horse and buggies. In 1912,
Edmonton’s mayor, George Armstrong ordered a master plan for the city
from an American firm. The plan included a proposal for a civic square.
In answer, the elegant Hotel Macdonald was completed in 1915, by which
time the population had soared to 72,000.
Fort Chipewyan and Fort
Fort Edmonton and Fort Augustus
Fort George and Buckingham House
Lesser Slave Lake
Buffalo Lake and Tail Creek
Red Deer Forks
South Branch Communities
St. Paul de Métis
Lac La Biche
Lac Ste. Anne