discoveries tell us that humans have inhabited the Canadian prairies for roughly the last 12,000 years, the current
population of Alberta is largely the product of the last century. Until the late 1700s,
First Nations peoples were the only
inhabitants, at which time traders from the Hudson's Bay and North
West Companies established a more permanent residence.
However, even with the growing European presence, by 1901 there were only
73,022 people living in what is now Alberta.
Initially based on the
Policy of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald's
government, Alberta witnessed periods of significant immigration in the
By the end of the first immigration boom in 1913,
the population was more than 374,000. World War I and the Great Depression of the 1930s
stifled immigration somewhat, but by 1941 the province's population had more than doubled to
reach 769,169. Along with increased economic growth following World
War II, Alberta's population continued to climb
to 1.6 million by 1971 and today is over 3 million.
Accompanying the tremendous amount of immigration has been a process of urbanization.
Although most Albertans are now accustomed to living in cities and towns, predominantly urban
living is a new development. As recently as 1941,
over 66 percent of the
population lived in rural areas. By 1961, however, almost
70 percent of Albertans were living in towns and cities and by 1996 that number had risen to over
80 percent. Population
growth and increased urbanization are important trends in recent Alberta history and are
the two main themes explored in this section. Join us as we examine the significant impact they
have had in forming present-day Alberta.
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.