May 2017

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Another look up Main Street from pioneer times. Strathmore's dramatic growth over the last 40 years has reshaped the town again. For decades Strathmore remained a town of much less than 1,000, centered on the railway station and serving the surrounding farmers. Today over 13,000 people call this place home, mostly in rapidly expanding suburbs. The centre of gravity has moved from 2nd Avenue to the strip malls lining the Trans-Canada Highway, while most of the city's residents drive to Calgary every day to work. Amidst all the surging growth, it can be easy to miss the few remaining signs of the small farming community that this place once was.

The Village that Moved

Located just east of Calgary, Strathmore began life in the early 1900s as a railway stop for immigrant farmers settling on the gigantic parcel of land owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Construction of the Western Irrigation District was a massive undertaking that brought labourers, farmers and businessmen to Strathmore and grew the town enough that residents voted to incorporate as a town in 1911. When the First World War broke out every single able-bodied man in Strathmore enlisted in the military, the only place in Canada where this occurred. The war took a heavy toll however, and as the railway diminished in importance growth stalled until after the Second World War. Then Strathmore's proximity to Calgary and place sitting astride the Trans-Canada Highway caused thousands of new residents to move into the burgeoning town so that now Strathmore is one of the fastest growing towns in Alberta with a young population.

This is a preview of some of the 200 then and now photos of Strathmore available now in the On This Spot App.

Use the app to experience Strathmore's history in an exciting new way with three historical walking tours.

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Strathmore: The Village that Moved.

1920s: Ray Buker and Margaret Keeler, winners of the best dressed cowboy and cowgirl in the Strathmore Stampede, take part in the Stampede Parade down Main Street, past the Union Bank. The brick-built Bank, prefabricated in British Columbia and shipped to Strathmore by rail, is the only prominent commercial building to survive from Strathmore's early days. The harsh climate, frequent fires, and economic downturns took their toll on the remainder of Strathmore's wooden businesses buildings.

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1925: A member of the Blackfoot Nation on horseback during the Strathmore Stampede parade. The Blackfoot suffered terribly from the arrival of white settlers. In Strathmore First Nations people were not a particularly common sight, though some did come to work as ranchers, on the irrigation projects or on farms. Others, like the man in this photo, came to perform in the Strathmore Stampede, aweing the settlers with bravura performances of horsemanship and dancing.

1926: On the cenotaph are inscribed the names of 35 of Strathmore's sons who never returned from the war. Behind it is a German field gun that was one of thousands captured at the end of the war and hauled back to Canada to be put on display in every corner of the country. Most of them were melted down during World War II to make new weapons. After that war another plaque was added to the bottom with the names of those who died in the Second World War.

1907: Newly arrived settlers set out from the colonization office on the left, to scout out the land and pick a site for their homesteads. The life that awaited these bold pioneers was one of endless work, brutal climate conditions, and crushing loneliness. One resident recalls his great-grandfather telling him a saying about the pioneer life: "The first generation dies. The second generation works, and the third generation lives well."

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1910: The demonstration farm's buildings are reflected in the glass-calm pond's surface.

Town of Strathmore

Another view of the Demonstration Farm, this time with the huge lettering on the barn's roof visible to passengers on passing trains who stopped by to take on fresh supplies for their cross Canada journeys.

Town of Strathmore

1910s: A man demonstrates irrigating a field. Behind him we can see the irrigation headquarters at left and the public school at right. Irrigating a field by hand was back-breaking work, and a skill that was taught to the enthusiastic new farmers by the CPR's agriculture experts.

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1910: An early shot of Strathmore's main street. On the right is the King Edward Hotel, centerpiece of the town's social life, while hardware stores, stables, banks and churches further up the street served the farmers in the surrounding area. At Strathmore's incorporation as a town in 1911 the population stood at 520.xx1 After that initial burst of growth the town's size and shape were set down. It would change remarkably little for over 50 years.

1925: The Alberta Goverment Telephone office before the sloped roof was added.

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1926: A front view of the Royal Bank of Canada.

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On This Spot Strathmore is possible through the generous support of these organizations:

Western District Historical Society Town of Strathmore




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