A History of Edmonton

By Tim Lambert

The Foundation of Edmonton

The great Canadian city of Edmonton began as a trading post called Fort Edmonton, built in 1795. It was named after Edmonton, England, which was then a town north of London.

However, in the late 19th century the settlement began to spread outside the fort. Then in 1892, Edmonton was incorporated as a town, and in 1904 it was incorporated as a city. Despite its small size Edmonton was chosen to be the capital of Alberta in 1905. The next year, 1906 the University of Alberta was founded.

During the early 20th century Edmonton grew very rapidly. In 1906 it was a small town with only 14,000 inhabitants but by 1939 its population had grown to 90,000 people.

Meanwhile, Alberta Legislature Building was built in 1912. The Art Gallery of Alberta was founded in 1924. (It reopened in a modern building in 2010).

In 1947 a large amount of oil was discovered near Edmonton. As a result, the city boomed. In the late 20th century Edmonton continued to grow at a phenomenal rate. By 1970 its population had reached almost 430,000 and it continued to grow rapidly.

Modern Edmonton

Modern Edmonton is a major tourist center. Edmonton Valley Zoo opened in 1959. Citadel Theatre was founded in 1965 and opened in its present building in 1976. Royal Alberta Museum (originally called the Provincial Museum of Alberta) opened in 1967. (It was renamed in 2005 when Queen Elizabeth II bestowed royal patronage).

Construction of Fort Edmonton Park began in 1969 and Alberta Railway Museum opened in 1976. Commonwealth Stadium opened in 1978 and Telus World of Science opened in 1984.

Meanwhile, the first airport in Edmonton opened in 1927. Edmonton International Airport in Leduc opened in 1957. Edmonton Light Rail Transit System opened in 1978.

Unfortunately, in 1987, a tornado struck Edmonton. It killed 27 people.

Today oil refining is still an important industry in Edmonton but in recent years hi-tech and service industries have greatly expanded.

Meanwhile Shaw Conference Centre opened in 1983. Edmonton is also a major shopping centre. Southgate Shopping Centre opened in 1970. Londonderry Mall opened in 1972. Kingsway Mall opened in 1976. West Edmonton Mall opened in 1981, although it was later extended.

Among its attractions, Ice Palace ice skating rink was founded in 1983 and Galaxyland amusement park opened in 1985. World Waterpark opened in 1986. Edmonton City Hall was built in 1992. Other famous buildings in Edmonton are Commerce Place built in 1990, the Icon Towers built in 2009-2010, and Epcor Tower built in 2011.

In 2024 the population of Edmonton was over 1 million. Today Edmonton is a flourishing city.

Edmonton, Alberta

Last revised 2024