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Town and area of Lacombe, the railway

Lacombe took its name in honour of Father Albert Lacombe, an early missionary.

The first post office in the area dates back to 1891. But as historian Don Wetherell explains, Lacombeís development was really determined by the railway.

When the railway was built between Edmonton and Calgary towns were space along the line. And some of these became service centers for the surrounding farm districts.

And Lacombe was one of these centers. And the station was built about 2 kilometers west of Barnett Stopping place which was an old rest stop on the Calgary and Edmonton Trail. The railway laid out the town using a somewhat different plan than that seen in many towns. It has angular plan in the downtown. And this meant that some of the blocks ended in sharp points rather than the more conventional 90-degree corner.

In the Lacombe this offered opportunities for builders. And one of the townís finest building, the Merchantís Bank took full advantage of this site when it built a fine neo-classical building in Lacombe in 1904.

When modern flat iron building in place, Lacombeís leaders believed they could attract more industry to the town.

They lobbied to have their town made a divisional point on the Calgary and Edmonton line. And a Divisdisional Point was where rail crews were changed, and this created relatively secure employment in he town.

And in Red Deer when the divisional point was established there, it brought a payroll of about 5000 dollars a month into the town. So it was a prize to win.

It was also a prize to be lost. In 1908, the railway divisional point, was moved to Red Deer.

Next time town leaderís lobbied for a line that would bring trade from Rimbey and Bentley. And then they cast their ambitions even higher.

They advertised extensively for settlers and in 1912 the town hired Publicity Man to try and attract industry to the town.

These pursuits were unsuccessful and the depressions of 1912, 1913 brought falling property values and decreased business activity in Lacombe as it did everywhere in Western Canada.

World War One, that broke out in 1914, further stymied development. So despite itís best effort, Lacombe failed to develop beyond a farm service center.

The Seventh Day Adventists established a boarding school near Lacombe.

But Lacombeís civic leaders could never shake their townís dependence on agriculture. And this was reinforced in 1907, when the federal government set up an experimental farm to research grain and livestock production.

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