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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Railway Construction

Before 1900, railways spurred on economic activity in Edmonton even when they did not actually arrive. In October 1902, the Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railway became the first railway to come to the incorporated town of Edmonton.

The Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railway built a railway four miles long between Edmonton and Strathcona using the Low Level Bridge, which had been built as a public work by the Federal Government.

The problem of providing Edmonton with a railway that had preoccupied it since the 1880s was finally resolved. No western Canadian community could survive - let alone prosper - if it did not have a railway. This railway connection was only a branch line, however, and being a terminal on the mainline of a railway was the key to substantial economic growth.

In 1903 Edmonton began to emerge as a national city when Canada's second generation of transcontinental railways began. Railway construction was the leading edge of private and public investment that transformed a town of 8,350 people covering an area of 3.4 square miles into a city of 72,516 people covering an area of 40.8 square miles by 1914.

This article is extracted from John Gilpin, Responsible Enterprise: A History of Edmonton Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. (Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board, 1997). The Heritage Community Foundation and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank John Gilpin and the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton for permission to reproduce this material.

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