Introduction to Alberta

(continuer en français) – Published: September 8, 2021

Alberta’s economy was initially based on agriculture, both field crops and beef cattle. The Western culture was built around ranches, as an extension of the United States. The growing popularity of the Rocky Mountains and national parks led to the development of other parts of the province.

Then oil began to come out of the ground, extracted from the oil sands, whose exploitation leaves a heavy ecological impact. Improved technology has helped to mitigate this impact, but it has not stopped criticism. However, it is an important source of revenue for the province and Canada.

The creation of Alberta dates back to 1905, when the huge North-Western Territory, previously granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company and then transferred to Canada after Confederation, was dismembered.

Spirit Island, Jasper National Park

Banff National Park

Historically the first Canadian national park, created in 1885 with the coming of the railway, it covers a large part of the Rockies. Many sites are famous and attract millions of visitors each year, such as Lake Louise (more), which sometimes makes it difficult to protect natural areas. The balance is preserved thanks to the expertise of those who look after it, giving the visitor the illusion of travelling in an ideal postcard.

Icefields Parkway

Between the two great national parks of Banff and Jasper, the 143-mile, 230-kilometre route winds through stunning scenery that makes for great photo stops. The glacier lakes, laden with rock particles, have unusual shades and reflections, such as Peyo Lake. Despite the high number of vehicles, there are few services on this route.

Jasper National Park

Still in the Rocky Mountains, extending north from Banff, Jasper is a slightly larger and newer park, established in 1907. It is also a little less crowded, with spectacular lakes and rivers. Whether on the many hiking trails available or even driving on the well-maintained roads, many exceptional sites are accessible such as Spirit Island (more).


Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and the fifth largest city in Canada. Official buildings such as the provincial government headquarters and city hall provide spectacular perspectives. The cultural facilities are of a high standard as exemplified by the recently upgraded Art Gallery. There is also a giant shopping centre, including sports and entertainment (more).


From Fort Calgary to the annual Stampede, Calgary cultivates its rugged image of heroic times. Yet the financial resources brought by oil and gas extraction have transformed it into a modern city, renewing its population. Beyond its Western and business personality, it is often a stopover on the way to the Rockies (more).

Red Deer

Edmonton and Calgary are two equally large and inevitably rival urban centres less than 300 kilometres, 190 miles, apart. Each city has a population of over one million, leaving little room for the others. Red Deer is halfway there, marked by petrochemical activity, the city is near the ford once used by carts to cross the river.

Fort Macleod

The Mounted Police Fort was built in 1874 in southern Alberta, named after a police colonel. The town grew around the fort based on agricultural activity, but this was not enough. With the loss of the railway, the town stagnated and regressed, giving the impression of a sleepy town with streets too wide for the little local traffic. An ideal setting for movies like Brokeback Mountain.

The Prairies

The Prairies occupy the southern part of Alberta, part of the vast expanse of flat land between British Columbia and Ontario. The Canadian granary also produces beef. Today, oil wells have sprung up around the fields, making the country one of the world’s leading producers, providing an easy income supplement for farmers.

Porcupine Hills

The Porcupine Hills are located south of Calgary. It is a ranching area, forming the backcountry of the cowboy town sometimes referred to as Cowtown. It is home to a hardy and nutritious grass species, consisting of large clumps that have roots a metre deep to find moisture. It is a transition region between the Prairies and the Rockies.

37-Porcupine Hills, Canada
Porcupine Hills
Porcupine Hills

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  1. A great summary of my beautiful province. Living here, many take the beauty for granted. I think your pic above the heading Banff National Park is actually Spirit Island which is in Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park. Thanks for posting. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right the lead photo is Spirit Island which is in Jasper National Park not Banff. I wanted to make it the introductory photo for the whole article and not the part that comes after. I added the captions to make it clearer. Many thanks for your constructive comment and how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful province!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I can only agree with you. As a visitor, the national parks are places of great beauty, perfectly preserved. Everything looks natural, but much is calculated to be preserved.


  2. I love how Alberta is used as a setting for movies. Shanghai Noon was also filmed there. I actually recognized it because it was too pretty to be in the American rockies lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • The landscape is not only stunning, but above all it is perfectly protected. What struck me immediately when I left the parks were advertising signs in the middle of the fields or ramshackle houses near the road. Nothing like that in the parks. Just the beauty of nature.

      Liked by 1 person

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