City of St. Albert

St. Albert’s history dates back more than 150 years and today it is an active city of more than 60,000 residents who still enjoy a small-town atmosphere and friendliness.

Often rated as one of Canada’s best cities for families, St. Albert offers plenty of parks and trails, recreational facilities and a robust arts and culture community.

While summer is a time to enjoy all that the city has to offer, including more than 70 kilometres of trails and a superb outdoor market, it was on a cold January day back in 1861 when Oblate priest Father Albert Lacombe and Bishop Alexandre Taché surveyed the Sturgeon River as it wound its way through an evergreen forest.

Magnificent site

“What a magnificent site!” the Roman Catholic bishop exclaimed. “It’s in all respects suitable for a mission post which I enjoin you to establish, and we shall name it in honour of your patron saint, St. Albert.”

By 1884 there were about 500 lots, 250 of them along the banks of the Sturgeon River.

St. Albert residents went to the polls to elect a town mayor and council for the first time in 1904. Pressure for more housing prompted town and government leaders to set down a plan for large-scale development in 1953.

Despite the city’s modern appearance, historic sites are prevalent in a community boasting some impressive landmarks.

The Father Lacombe Chapel, built with logs from the original Oblate mission, shares the Mission Hill site with the St. Albert Roman Catholic Church, built in 1922. Five years later, a monument to Father Lacombe was unveiled. Founders’ Promenade, a path which begins just past the Mission tennis courts, is marked with the names of founding settlers whose descendants have lived here for more than 100 years.



First neighbourhoods

On the west side of the path, the Little White School, originally built in 1946, brings back many memories for older residents.

As St. Albert grew during the 1950s, so did the town’s Protestant community. By 1957, a new United Church was built and a second school system was established a year later.

From the top of the hill, there’s a fine view of St. Albert’s first neighbourhoods: Grandin, Braeside and Sturgeon Heights were built in the 1960s as the town embarked on an era of rapid growth.

While the city grew, planners strived to maintain a link to St. Albert’s roots and that goal continues.

Recent downtown revitalization has attempted to blend the original features of historic Perron Street with the need for more modern facilities.

An impressive city hall and cultural centre helps blend the old and the new. Designed by renowned architect Douglas Cardinal, the modern brick building mirrors the curves of the Sturgeon River.

City council continues to develop plans to make the downtown area a focal point for community activities.

Few St. Albert residents escape hearing about the infamous Bruin Inn.

Built in 1929, the bar, like its predecessor the St. Albert Hotel, was a popular watering hole in those early years when women had to be escorted to walk into most Edmonton-area bars. Men and women often sat at opposite ends of the bar. But patrons, including many unattached women from Edmonton, flocked to the Bruin, a “country bar” where men and women could socialize together.

The site has been redeveloped to include a restaurant and retail space.

From a population of 11,000 in 1970, the city is now home to almost 62,000 residents. The February 2007 annexation of land from Sturgeon County increased the size of the city by about one-third and made way for new residential, commercial and industrial development.


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