Camrose_na_396_1_thuIn the early days, the area around present-day Camrose was home to the Cree. They lived along the nearby banks of the Stoney Creek down to Battle River, along the shores of Dried Meat Lake. Pe-o-kis, a well-known Cree, was one of the first settlers in the Camrose area. The first home was built in 1893 in the present Camrose area by Ole Bakken. One folklore legend said that when Bakken left Norway and arrived in the United States, he had a vision that he would take up land in a faraway country through which a stream flowed and on which a town would be built. He eventually came to Canada and interestingly enough, Stoney Creek ran through the corner of his homestead. It was on this farm that Camrose came to be.

camrose_fig_10_thuIn 1891, Camrose was a stopping place for settlers seeking land as they arrived by rail at Wetaskiwin. The area around Camrose was settled around 1900. Settlers came from the Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden, as well as from the United States. Prior to this settlement, a mission and trading post had been established by Father Bellevaire along the Battle River about six miles (9.7 kilometres) south of Camrose. The first merchant to settle in the present Camrose area was Duncan Simpson in 1904 with a load of lumber from Wetaskiwin. The next day he began building a small store near the end of the west side of the town site. He later moved his store to Main Street. Stores were also established by Andrew Carruthers and R. Bud Price.

The City of Camrose was originally known as the Hamlet of Sparling, named after the Reverend Dr. Sparling of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was incorporated as the Village of Sparling on May 4, 1905. Because of the fact that the name Sparling was often confused with the towns of Sperling and Stirling in Western Canada, in 1906 the Village Council changed the name to Camrose. There is a legend that selection of the name Camrose was chosen from a town in South Wales. The village was incorporated as the Town of Camrose on December 11, 1906 and to the status of a City on January 1, 1955.


camrose_fig_08_thuIn June 1905, the Canadian Pacific railway grade was completed between Wetaskiwin linking the village with the main Calgary-Edmonton line via Wetaskiwin and a train operated three times weekly. Prior to the arrival of the railway, all goods had to be freighted from Wetaskiwin by oxen and horses, which took approximately three days.

The first school was opened in the Presbyterian Church in 1905 and the first school building was opened on May 24, 1907. Rev. Thomas Phillips, a Methodist minister, conducted the first church service in a shack and the first church built in the area was of the Lutheran faith.

Camrose_na_3462_12_thuCamrose had electricity in 1911 when a steam electric plant was constructed. This plant was taken over by the Calgary Power Company in 1929. In 1949, oil was discovered in many places around Camrose and as a result, Camrose became the centre of the "Joarcam" oil field. In the early 1950s, the population increased rapidly.


WWII and After


Camrose_nd_3_3729_thuAgriculture was a major factor in the economic growth of the city of Camrose. In the late 1950s, Camrose was in the heart of the densely populated area of the province, with approximately 31percent of the population living within a 50 mile radius.  During this time, 42 percent of all farms in the province were located in this area. Field crop production was relatively important in the Camrose district. The surrounding area was also a large producer of livestock, poultry and dairy products. The city of Camrose was believed to be at that time the largest hog-shipping centre in Canada. Progress toward mechanization in the 
district was also outstanding during this time period.
Camrose_na_2507_30_thuCamrose Tubes Limited was located in the northwest section of the city and manufactured large diameter steel pipe. This was one of the largest plants of its kind in the world, employing a minimum of 350 employees.camrose_fig_09_thu Another development was the Alberta Wheat Pool Seed Division specialized in the processing and cleaning of grass and legume seed. It handled approximately 10 million pounds (4,536,000 kilograms) of seed and exported to all parts of the world with only a small portion being used locally.

Present-Day Camrose - "The Rose City"


camrose_pics1_4_thuCamrose is a rural community within travelling distance of Edmonton. It offers big-city amenities and small town friendliness. Camrose is large enough to supply all major services as well as cultural and sporting activities. The population of the city is over 15,300, although it enjoys a trading area of 104,000. Camrose has a diversified economy based on agriculture, industry, and retail businesses. Citizens enjoy a lifestyle with access to parks, modern services, with many programs for both the young and old.

camrose_pics2_1_thuCamrose has been known for many years as "The Rose City", a tribute to its scenic setting. The area is dominated by parkland and special attention is paid to keep recreational area clean. The city's efforts have been rewarded by the city being named twice "Cleanest City" in a Tri-City Challenge involving itself and two other communities.

Some recreational features the city has are the 18-hole golf course, aquatic centre, trails, and a museum. The city of Camrose is unique that it has a number of twinning arrangements with communities outside of Alberta. These communities are similar in characteristics such as size, climate, geography and industry. The twinning results in greater information and cultural exchange between the cities. Bonds between the cities are strengthened, and student exchanges have proven especially successful. These relationships lean towards developing and fostering interpersonal relationships with objectives of promoting friendship, goodwill, education, economics and tourism. Their sister cities are Kamifurano, Japan; Warwick, Australia; Chicoutimi, Quebec; and Kentville, Nova Scotia.


featuredVideoNew Norway: The Immigrant Trail

The legacy of three generations of a Norwegian family who emigrated to Alberta in 1912, set-up a general store and got involved in local politics and community building

Watch Now! Read Transcript



Camrose: The Railway City