The Church of Jesus Christ of the
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 alike-in 1995 the temple was recognized by
the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
Wood, V. A. The Alberta Temple: Centre and Symbol of Faith.
Calgary: Detselig Enterprises Ltd.,1989