With Airdrie set to celebrate Canada’s 150th birth in July 2017, it’s interesting to note that the city’s past is chock-full of interesting people, places and things.
Airdrie was founded in 1889 when Calgary-Edmonton Railway contracting engineer William McKenzie named the stopping point after his hometown of Airdrie, Scotland.
It wasn’t until 1901, however, when brothers-in-law A.E. Bowers and William Croxford set to work building the first barn and house, located on the north side of Centre Avenue and the east side of Main Street, that Airdrie became a place of residence.
Following the construction of the Bowers and Croxford residences, R.J. Hawkey saw fit to open the first school in 1904, aptly named Airdrie School.
With the population booming, W.F. Edwards drove his horse and buggy into Airdrie in 1907, becoming the first doctor to serve the area.
Airdrie’s growth showed no signs of stopping, and in 1909, with a population of around 250 people, it was officially declared a village.
Industry in Airdrie also saw growth, with the first grain elevators built in 1916.
However, Airdrie and its residents were to be met by a deadly foe, the Spanish flu pandemic.
The first bout of flu flourished in Airdrie in 1918, and with the ever-growing mortality rate, Edwards saw fit to convert the Old Hotel into a quarantine hospital.
When the pandemic ceased in 1919, Edwards continued to serve as a physician in Airdrie until his death in 1940 from a staph infection.
Looking to the future, the first electricity was used in the village in 1928.
Airdrie continued to shine, and in 1959 one of its most recognized landmarks, the Airdrie Water Tower, was constructed and called the ‘Horton Watersphere.’
In 1974, with a population of 3,897 people, Airdrie became a town.
And in 1985, with a population of 10,631, Airdrie was declared the 14th city of Alberta.
What will be Airdrie’s legacy on Canada’s 200th birthday? Only time will tell.
Iron Horse Park
A train lover’s dream come true, Iron Horse Park has miniature trains, track and landscape to represent the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from the prairies to the coast. Take the 1.6-kilometre interpretive journey aboard one of the 1/8th scale diesel or steam locomotives at the park and get a feeling for what the railway was like in Western Canada during the pioneer days. The rail journey takes visitors over hills, across trestles and through tunnels across the varied landscape.
The park is a work in progress, with additional structures, features, and track being added yearly. In 2017, the park welcomes 0.5 km of additional track.
Situated at 820 Railway Gate, Iron Horse Park is open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting, from Victoria Day weekend through Thanksgiving (May 21 to Oct. 8, 2017). The park will also be open on Canada Day. Check the website or Facebook page for the latest run day information. Admission to the park is free but each journey costs $3 (cash, credit, or debit) per person. Children under age three ride free but must be accompanied by an adult. Except for service animals, pets are not permitted at the park. ironhorsepark.net
Nose Creek Valley Museum
Boasting more than 10,000 artifacts, Nose Creek Valley Museum has been preserving the past of Airdrie and surrounding area since 1988.
A recent addition is the LAV III, a historical monument recognizing the dedicated service, and sacrifices made, by members of the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Admission to the museum is $2 for adults; children under 12 are free. Ask about guided museum tours. Gift shop on site. Located at the south end of Nose Creek Park, Nose Creek Valley Museum also houses the Airdrie Visitor Information Centre. nosecreekvalleymuseum.com