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Life Astride the Sheep River

The Town of Okotoks is located near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in beautiful southern Alberta. Okotoks gets its name from the Blackfoot word for the giant glacial erratic, the Big Rock, located just west of town. Built near ancient fords over the Sheep River, the village first took root to serve travelers on what became known as the Macleod Trail – the wagon and stagecoach trail that linked Fort Macleod to Fort Calgary. Two early settlers, Kenneth Cameron and John Macmillan, each established stopping houses in the area and this entrepreneurial spirit helped lay the foundation of what would become Okotoks. Today. Okotoks’ historic downtown is home to many heritage buildings and unique businesses that exemplify the community’s proud historic past.

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Then and Now Photos


Homeowning Homeowning

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The house in this photo was owned by Robert Hamilton and Matilda Fiske, and continues to survive to this day. The way homes were designed and meant to be lived in were quite different than they are today. On the inside the home represented a space for the family, and the domestic space for women, while exterior decoration represented the style of the time, giving us a window into small town Alberta culture over 100 years ago.

Beattie Store

Beattie Store Beattie Store

Okotoks Archives On This Spot Enterprises


The H. E. Beattie Store was built in Okotoks in 1906 opposite the CPR Station on North Railway Street. Beattie sold the store to his brother-in-law Cliff Wentworth in 1925 who established Wentworth’s General Store. Cliff operated the store until 1950 and then his son Jack took over; both were successful businessmen due to their strong customer service. They knew most of their customers on a first-name basis, they operated on credit and the credit was always paid. “Don’t worry,” Jack would say. “We won’t see you starve.” Wentworth’s General Store closed in 1975. The building is now home to Rumpled Quilt Skins.

Elma Street East

Elma Street East Elma Street East

Okotoks Archives On This Spot Enterprises

Elma Street East and West were primarily residential streets; however, Elma Street East had some mixed land uses. This photo looks down from the escarpment at Dr. Frederick Stockton’s residence (9 Elma Street East) and the Okotoks Methodist Church (3 Elma Street East). About 1906, Dr. Frederick Stockton constructed his large Edwardian gable-front dwelling to serve as both his home and medical practice. Its architectural style was popular in Alberta in 1901-1914 and exemplifies the economic boom that took place in Okotoks during that period. The beautiful brick Methodist Church next door was also built in 1906. It served the Methodists until 1917 at which time the Methodists and Presbyterian congregations united in Okotoks to form the United Church. That was eight years before the nation-wide unification. It continued as a church until 2002

James J. Morrison

James J. Morrison James J. Morrison

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James J. Morrison stands out in front of his home just before he marries.

Mary Daggett

Mary Daggett Mary Daggett

Okotoks Archives On This Spot Enterprises


Mary Daggett sits on a piling overlooking the Lineham mill pond. The Daggett family was one of the few families who had a camera in early Okotoks and Mary was one of their daughters.

Mrs. Scott's House

Mrs. Scott's House Mrs. Scott's House

Okotoks Archives On This Spot Enterprises


A flood in Okotoks causes the water to rise to the doorstep of Mrs. Scott's house.

Lineham House

Lineham House Lineham House

Okotoks Archives On This Spot Enterprises


The Lineham house on Elma Street was near the Willingdon Hotel. John Lineham owned the lumber mill in Okotoks and was a wealthy man prominent in the community.

Cars on the Bridge

Cars on the Bridge Cars on the Bridge

Okotoks Archives F1f8p15 On This Spot Enterprises


Cars drive across the bridge over the Sheep River in the late 1920s. As cars were popularized in the early twentieth century the landscape of small towns on the prairies began to change. Bridges and roads had to change to accomodate cars rather than wagons and gas stations began to pop up replacing livery stables. Additionally, towns were faced with created traffic laws as the amount of vehicles increased.

Okotoks South East

Okotoks South East Okotoks South East

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Looking southeast we can see the Ben Hood house in the right hand corner and the Okotoks arena in the background.


Winter Winter

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Looking south over Okotoks in winter we can see the Hessel residence and the Elks Dance Hall.