We have dozens of tours and hundreds of then-and-now photo sets throughout the province of Alberta. Today, as part of our participation in Culture Days, we are featuring our content in the towns of Fort Macleod and Strathmore. In Fort Macleod, we have three walking tours and a virtual museum tour of the Fort Museum; in Strathmore, our content includes three walking tours. All of these tours are available for free online or through the On This Spot app.
The town of Fort Macleod first took shape as a North West Mounted Police fort. After a gruelling two-month, 1,300 kilometre trek across the prairie from Dufferin, Manitoba, Colonel James F. Macleod and his contingent of North West Mounted Police arrived here, on the banks of the Oldman River. Macleod and his men raced against the oncoming frost to construct a fort that would house them through the winter, effectively establishing what would one day become a thriving community. The story of Fort Macleod is the story of the NWMP and the Blackfoot Confederacy, the buffalo and the Saskatoon berry, and of the ranchers, bankers, teachers, leaders, men and women who have lived their lives on the plains.
Our three tours dive into the story of the NWMP, Fort Macleod’s heritage homes and buildings, and, lastly, the tales of Main Street and what life was like in the early days of the community. Our virtual museum tour of the Fort Museum allows app users to experience this place from the comfort of their homes and computers.
The town of Strathmore, located just east of Calgary, began life in the early 1900s as a railway stop for immigrant farmers settling on the surrounding lands. A massive irrigation scheme brought labourers, farmers, and businessmen to Strathmore, and in 1911 it incorporated as town. In the First World War every single able-bodied man in Strathmore enlisted in the military, and the town is the only place in Canada where this occurred. The war took a heavy toll, and as the railway diminished in importance, growth stalled until after the Second World War. Then, Strathmore’s proximity to Calgary and its location along the Trans-Canada Highway caused another population boom. Strathmore is now one of the fastest growing towns in Alberta.
Our three tours of Strathmore each explore a different aspect of its history. The first looks at the influence of the railway on Strathmore, while the second examines the effects of war on the small town. The third and last tour of the town takes a broader view, looking at the general history of the community and what life was like for early residents.