Known as the "four-seasons playground," this large province, nestled in western Canada, is steeped in history focused on the great outdoors.
Prior to the arrival in Alberta of explorers from Europe, the Plain Indians (Blackfoot, Blood and Peigans) and the Cree and the Chipewyan hunted, trapped and fished in the parkland and forest areas of the Alberta region.
As the French fur traders moved into the territory and married Aboriginal women, the combination of the cultures created the Métis, or the early mixed-race people of Alberta.
On May 2, 1670, King Charles II of England issued a charter granting trading rights in the Alberta region to Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). The area, Rupert's Land, was named after Charles I's nephew, Prince Rupert of the Rhine and the first Governor of HBC.
The British vs. French controversy mirrored the religious conflicts between European settlers and the Native Indians. In the mid-19th century, an influx of Christian missionaries, including Jean-Baptiste Thibault, tried to convert Native Indians.
The conflicts and rivalries between HBC and the North West Company were ongoing until 1821, when HBC absorbed the North West Company, granting HBC a monopoly of the fur trade.
In the Rupert's Land Act 1868, HBC ceded Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to the Dominion of Canada, abolishing the monopoly held by HBC. In 1872, the Dominion Lands Act passed, encouraging settlement of the Prairie Provinces by granting land rights to farmers.
The time following the acquisition was troubled. White settlers hunted and killed most of the population of the Plains bison, the main source of food for the Indians. This led to starvation, disease and warfare among Plains natives, culminating in the Battle of the Belly River in 1870 between the Cree and Blackfoot peoples.
In 1882, the Alberta region became the District of Alberta, established as part of the Northwest Territories. The land was named after Queen Elizabeth's daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta.
With the closing of the American frontier around 1890, and the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1883, Alberta's population grew by hundreds of thousands of new settlers. Multicultural communities developed, with a diverse population ranging from American settlers to Mormons to the Welsh.
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Alberta Legislature Building
This page was last modified on September 29, 2015.