Modern-day Edmonton is a metropolitan city bursting with life and teeming with culture. Its skyline is defined by towering buildings, yet it has still maintained the charm of its early roots. With a population of about 981,000 people, it comes as no surprise that Alberta's capital city is much different today than it was during the early years of its settlement.
Native Tribes Were Edmonton's First Residents
Like much of Canada and North America, the first residents in the Edmonton region were tribes from the First Nations. In the area that would become Edmonton, the native people consisted mostly of aboriginal hunting tribes. They migrated across the region, moving from place to place along with the herds they were hunting. It was a rough terrain that did not lend itself to permanent villages or settlements.
The Fur Trade Attracted Europeans to the Region
In the late 18th century, the first Europeans arrived in the region. These European settlers were interested in the region because it provided many opportunities for collecting and trading fur. Fort Augustus was created by the North West Company, which was a fur trading organization. Edmonton House also was built in the region by a rival fur trading company, the Hudson's Bay Company. The rivalry between these two companies was legendary, and persisted throughout the duration of the demand for furs. By the late 1860s, however, the fur trade declined significantly and much of Edmonton's early settlement was abandoned.
The Railway Allowed for Edmonton to Expand
While the fur traders largely abandoned their posts at the forts that had been created in Edmonton, there were still pioneers who were interested in living off the land that would soon become Edmonton. These pioneers lived in small log cabins near the river, and began to create the basic foundation for the town. Edmonton was established in 1894, which is shortly after the Canadian Pacific Railway connected the community to many other thriving cities in Canada. By 1904, Edmonton was officially a city; within a few short years, almost 5,000 people called it home.
The Post-War Oil Boom Ushered in a Modern Era in Edmonton
Shortly after the completion of the Second World War, the first oil discovery was made in Alberta. It was soon made apparent that there were many successful oil fields surrounding Edmonton, which attracted significant attention. Edmonton quickly became known as the Oil Capital of Canada, and its population increased by almost 120,000 people in just a decade. The oil boom lasted until the late 1980s, and during this time, Edmonton also became a popular tourist destination. Its most famous attraction is the West Edmonton Mall, which was the largest mall in the world when it first opened.
Economic Prosperity in the Late 20th Century Transformed the City
The end of the oil boom brought along with it an economic slowdown, but it didn't take long for the local economy to diversify and recover. At the turn of the Millennium, Edmonton saw a significant increase in both retail and housing developments that transformed the landscape of the city.
Edmonton is anticipated to continue growing and thriving, as people are able to find economic opportunities in this diverse city. Edmonton is a welcoming place that offers something for everyone.
By Justin Havre