Founded in 1889, Airdrie has a rich history of settlers and railways. Starting out as a stop destination for the Calgary and Edmonton Railway Company train that delivered mail because of Nose Creek, soon buildings were 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.
Airdrie was granted village status in 1909, became a town in 1974, and by 1985, with a population of 10,631, was declared the 14th city of Alberta. Today, it has a population of approximately 65,000.
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. Additional structures, features, and track are added regularly.
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 20 to Oct. 7 in 2018). 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. Ticket bundles of eight for $20 and 25 for $50 are also available. Children under age three ride free but must be accompanied by an adult. Except for service animals, pets are not permitted at the park.
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 new exhibit this year is ‘Busted – A History of Policing in Airdrie and Investigation and Forensic Techniques.’ Other collections include a First Nations display, settler’s cabin, blacksmith shop, general store, barber shop, wildlife displays, 4-H displays, antique cars and farm machinery, one of Canada’s largest arrowhead collections, WW1 and WW2 memorabilia, and a LAV III monument.
Museum admission is $5 for adults; children under 12 are free. Ask about guided museum tours. The museum is open year round: June through August, Monday to Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., weekends 1-4:30 p.m.; September through May, Monday to Friday 1-5 p.m., weekends 1-4:30 p.m. There is a gift shop on site. Located at the south end of Nose Creek Park, Nose Creek Valley Museum also houses the Airdrie Visitor Information Centre.