The Village of Mirror turns 100
reprinted from Red Deer Express July 25, 2012
This year marks the centennial of one of the most unique and
interesting communities in Central Alberta. On July 27, 1912, the
Village of Mirror was officially incorporated.
The history of the community goes back much farther than 100 years.
In the 1860s and 1870s, semi-permanent Metis buffalo hunter
settlements had formed in the Buffalo Lake district at Boss Hill and
Tail Creek. At one time, these localities had 3,000 residents, which
would have made them the largest settlements west of Winnipeg.
The rapid disappearance of the buffalo caused the disappearance of
these early settlements. In the late 1880s and 1890s, ranchers and
farmers began moving into the district. Soon a new community,
Lamerton, sprang up on the southwest end of Buffalo Lake by Fletcher
Bredin's trading post.
A big boost to the new settlement came in 1910 when the Grand Trunk
Pacific Railway began construction of a major north-south rail line
through east Central Alberta. Because of its mid-point location
between Calgary and Edmonton, Lamerton was deemed to be the location
for a major divisional point on the railway.
However, the Grand Trunk Pacific ran into problems in negotiating a
satisfactory agreement to purchase land at Lamerton for its proposed
railyards and accompanying townsite. Hence a decision was made to
purchase 1,000 acres of land a short distance to the south.
The new townsite plan was a grand one, befitting what was predicted
to become one of the major urban centres of the burgeoning province
of Alberta. Broad main thoroughfares were laid out in a diagonal
fashion from the central point in the proposed town. A summer
resort-like area was planned by Buffalo Lake.
According to a press release issued in May 1911 by the Grand Trunk
Pacific, the new community was to be called Mirror, because of "the
very clear water of the lake which reflects objects like a looking
However, in a stroke of real estate promotion genius, the G.T.P.
Railway and its real estate subsidiary, the Transcontinental
Townsite Company, partnered with the influential Daily Mirror
newspaper in London, England. This gave international publicity to
the new community and boosted the interest of overseas investors in
The main thoroughfares were given the impressive names of
Whitefriars Boulevard and Northcliffe Boulevard. Many streets and
avenues were named after the members of the Daily Mirror staff,
although several were also named after the pioneer and prominent
families in the district.
The Transcontinental Townsite Company decided to launch the sale of
the townsite lots with a grand auction, to be held in conjunction
with the arrival of the first passenger train to the community on
July 11, 1911. To make the event even more impressive, they
recruited Sir Rodmond Roblin, the premier of Manitoba, to act as the
The auction was a phenomenal success. Sixty thousand dollars worth
of lots were sold in the first two hours and $251,648 worth of land
was sold over two days. To put those amounts into perspective, at
the time, $2 per day was considered to be a pretty good wage.
While Mirror enjoyed a heady boom for a couple of years, things came
to a crashing halt in the summer of 1914 with the outbreak of the
First World War. There was another brief boom in 1922 when the newly
created Canadian National Railways decided to consolidate a number
of regional operations in Mirror.
However, over the years, Mirror remained a quiet little community.
In 2004, a decision was made to rescind Mirror's status as a
village. It is now a hamlet within Lacombe County.
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in Central Alberta (CNR)
- Mirror to Three Hills
Rise and Fall of Passenger Rail in the C&E Corridor
Canadian National Railway Stations in Central Alberta