Airdrie has a rich history of settlers and railways, starting out as a stop destination for the Calgary and Edmonton Railway Company train delivering mail.
Buildings were soon built along the railway, with workers living nearby to care for the train. Before long, general stores, blacksmith shops and a school were built to service the establishing families and growing number of people travelling to this tiny hamlet to begin a new life.
Receiving supplies by train, Airdrie grew to be a substantial size and, after much paperwork, was granted village status Sept. 9, 1909.
Airdrie has one of the highest growth rates in Canada – 6 to 8 per cent annually. With a current population of more than 60,000, the city is the fastest-growing in Alberta and one of the fastest in Canada. In 2015, the city’s population grew by more than 10 new residents per day.
Located within Nose Creek Park off Main Street and open year round, Gwacheon Park is an important landmark and home to six handcrafted totem poles donated to the City of Airdrie in 2007 by sister city Gwacheon, Korea to commemorate the 10th year of sharing a sister-city relationship. The park celebrates a sisterhood agreement that has greatly enriched the communities of Gwacheon and Airdrie with continued friendship and understanding between two diverse cultures. Please note: Nose Creek Park is undergoing an extensive enhancement project in 2016, affecting access to some areas.
Iron Horse Park
With miniature trains, track and landscape to represent the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from the prairies to the coast, Iron Horse Park is a train lover’s dream come true. 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 plans to eventually add a small-scale farmstead, town and industries typical to the journey.
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 17 to Oct. 9, 2016). The park will also be open as a participant in ARTember on Oct. 1 and 2. Admission to the park is free but each journey costs $3 cash per person. Children under age three ride free but must be accompanied by an adult.
Nose Creek Valley Museum
Honouring more than 100 years of local history, the museum has been preserving the past of Airdrie and surrounding area since 1988. With more than 10,000 artifacts, the museum treats visitors to a glimpse into the past. Exhibits include wildlife displays, a First Nation’s display, settler’s cabin, blacksmith shop, general store and barber shop. The museum’s collection also includes 4-H displays, antique cars and farm machinery, one of the largest arrowhead collections in Canada, and memorabilia from the First and Second World Wars.
Admission is $2 for adults; children under 12 are free. Museum activities include ongoing research, collection of artifacts and archival materials, creation of local history books, periodic art shows and displays, and guided tours. A selection of local history books, postcards, pins and souvenirs are available for purchase through the gift shop. Located at the south end of Nose Creek Park, Nose Creek Valley Museum also houses the Airdrie Visitor Information Centre.