Airdrie, located in the Nose Creek Valley, began as a stopping point that was one day's journey north of Calgary in the late 1800s. Now you can get there from Calgary by car in about 5-10 minutes! The area was named after a village northeast of Glasgow, Scotland. The name "Airdrie" means "The King's Height." William McKenzie, a contracting engineer for the Calgary and Edmonton Railway, named the village in 1889. A unique feature of Airdrie is that its elevation makes it the highest city in Canada. It was incorporated as a village in 1909 with a population of 250.
Airdrie's first inhabitants were railway workers of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway, who lived in the station house. The railway also brought in settlers to live in Airdrie. The locomotives would stop in town and could pick up water because Nose Creek remained ice free year round. This created jobs for people who, in turn, created a need for housing and services.
Over time, features of a new town were built, including a water tower, which had suitable piping for transferring water underground from creek to reservoir. The high water quality of Nose Creek brought the railway to Airdrie and subsequently more settlers. In essence, Airdrie owes its existence to the railway.
Interest in the highway to Edmonton was revived with the invention of the automobile after 1900. In 1906, the first auto trip was made from Calgary to Edmonton over a decaying trail system. The new province of Alberta was already in the midst of a wave of public works development, and the new Provincial Highway was added to the list, becoming Highway No. 1, following the railway line to the many towns that had sprung up as sidings, section points and grain elevator service centres.