1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Edmonton (Alberta)

EDMONTON, the capital city of the province of Alberta, Canada, which was constituted in 1905. Pop. (1901) 2652; (1906) 11,167. It is picturesquely situated on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan river in 113° 37′ W. and 53° 32′ N. It is on a high tableland which rises 200 ft. above the river, and overlooks the thickly wooded valley of the North Saskatchewan river—at this point a mile in width, the river itself being one-eighth of a mile wide. Directly opposite Edmonton on the south bank of the river stands Strathcona, a town with a population of 2927. The streets of Edmonton are wide and laid out in rectangular form. Its excellent drainage makes street grading an easy matter. In 1896 it was scarcely a village; in 1901 it assumed some importance, but three-quarters of the city were built between 1901 and 1906. Its choice as capital in 1905 gave it a great impetus. The buildings, largely of brick, give a substantial appearance to the place. The public school buildings, high school and Alberta College are attractive. The church buildings, many in number, include several architecturally beautiful. Three well planned and commodious hospital buildings represent the benevolent work of the community. The banks and the wholesale warehouses are well built, and many beautiful private residences are worthy of note. Its growth may be realized from the fact that during a part of 1906, $806,015 worth of building permits were granted; the customs receipts, $57,994 in 1905, grew to $104,416 in 1906; the mail parcels handled increased from 6800 to 12,079; and the express parcels handled from 1277 to 2347. Edmonton is the depot of the fur traders for the great region on the north and west. The Hudson’s Bay Company has great interest in Edmonton, but is vigorously opposed by a strong French firm, Revillon Frères of Paris. These two companies have their posts wide spread over the north country. The city, being incorporated, is governed by a mayor and a board of aldermen. It operates its own water service, electric light plant, and telephone system. Its schools are managed by an elected public school board.

Edmonton was begun as a post of the North West Company about the year 1778. Early in the 19th century the Hudson’s Bay Company also established a fort at this point. On the union of the two companies under the name of the latter, Fort Edmonton sprang into new importance. It became a north-western centre, and in its neighbourhood many employees of the fur company, both Scottish and French, took up land as settlers. As freighters for the Hudson’s Bay Company many of these settlers made, with their ox or pony carts, the long journey over the natural prairie roads to Fort Garry, fording or swimming the streams, carrying furs for a thousand miles or more on the eastern trip, and returning brought loads of merchandise for the company. Its inaccessibility made the Edmonton settlement grow very slowly, so that its great increase in population belongs to the period subsequent to 1896.