Homes in Alberta: Building, Trends, and Design, 1870-1967

Homes in Alberta: Building, Trends, and Design, 1870-1967

Homes in Alberta: Building, Trends, and Design, 1870-1967

Homes in Alberta: Building, Trends, and Design, 1870-1967

Synopsis

Don Wetherall and Irene Kmet have drawn upon an extensive range of archival, visual and printed sources to write a comprehensive history of housing in Alberta from the late nineteenth century until the 1960s. The authors examine design, materials and methods of construction, government policy and economic and social aspects of housing in Alberta.

Excerpt

Housing is not merely shelter. Since the beginning of European settlement in Alberta in the nineteenth century, social attitudes, personal ambitions, and the impact of technological, economic, and social change have been revealed by the evolution of house designs, changes in methods and materials of construction, government policy and regulation of housing, and housing supply and conditions. In one sense, the house has been a place of great personal meaning, while, on a broader level, it has been tightly bound to almost all aspects of the history of the province.

Although the province of Alberta was not formed until 1905, European fur traders were active in the area from the late eighteenth century and established the first post at Fort Chipewyan in 1788. Later, posts were established in the parkbelt region, including Edmonton in 1795. Beginning in the 1840s, missionaries working in the region encouraged the emergence of a number of mixed blood settlements such as Lac Ste Anne in 1844, St. Albert in 1861, and Victoria in 1864. While the fur trade and the Christian missions focused settlement in the central and northern areas of the province, Canada's purchase of the Hudson's Bay Company territory in 1869/70 changed the destiny of the region and land surveys began. While the missions and fur trade posts remained prominent for some time, the establishment of North West Mounted Police (NWMP) posts at places like Fort Macleod in 1874 and Fort Calgary in 1875 and, most importantly, the routing of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) through the southern part of the future province in the early 1880s eroded the traditional settlement pattern. While rail connection with eastern Canada was in place by 1883, settlement was slow to take off, partly because low international grain prices provided little incentive for agricultural settlement. European settlers in the Alberta region had increased from 1,100 in 1881 to 17,500 a decade later, most of whom lived in the southern region. The old settlments in the north languished until 1891, when Edmonton was connected by rail to Calgary.

The construction of railways provided an important part of the . . .

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