Looking back to when Red Deer
reprinted from Red Deer Express March 20, 2013
This weekend, Red Deer will be celebrating a very significant
milestone in our community's history.
It was 100 years ago, on March 25, 1913, that Red Deer was
officially incorporated as a City.
Red Deer, at the time, had a population of only 3,000, usually
considered too small to become a city.
However, in 1901, when Red Deer was incorporated as a town, the
community had 323 residents.
Twelve years later, the population had surged nearly 10-fold.
Many people optimistically predicted would grow to more than 30,000
by the early 1920s.
There were some solid arguments, other than spirited optimism, to
seek city status. Cities were better able to sell debentures, an
important consideration for a community that heavily relied on
borrowing to finance the construction of new roads, waterworks,
power facilities and public buildings.
Moreover, North Red Deer had become a separate village in 1911 and
the residents of Red Deer West (West Park) were investigating the
possibilities of incorporation.
Under provincial legislation, the Town of Red Deer could only annex
such areas if it received a petition signed by two-thirds of the
residents of the affected area.
There had already been a petition for annexation submitted by some
residents of North Red Deer. Red Deer Town Council wanted to change
its charter status so that it could have more flexibility in
handling such requests.
The Town's solicitor, G.W. Greene, presented a draft bill of
incorporation at the first Town Council meeting of 1913.
In order to expedite matters, the draft proposed that the current
town charter by simply amended by substituting the word 'city' for
the word 'town'
The only other change dropped the requirement for two-thirds consent
The town councilors unanimously approved the proposals. The new
mayor, F.W. Galbraith, then invited the council and town
administrators to an oyster dinner at the Crowne Cafe.
The draft bill was approved by the Municipal Committee of the
Alberta Legislature with virtually no debate.
Edward Michener, who was Red Deer's MLA and also the leader of the
official opposition, piloted the bill through the remainder of the
The bill was unanimously approved on March 10th. The Lieutenant
Governor gave his assent on March 25th. Red Deer officially became a
Surprisingly, the news was not greeted with much fanfare back in Red
The Red Deer Advocate had a front-page article on the incorporation,
but it was quite a small one. There were much bigger articles on the
announcement of a provincial election and a proposal to build new
factories in Red Deer.
The new City council did announce a competition for the design of an
official City coat of arms. Entries were received from all over
Canada, but the winner was A.B. Mitchell, a local jeweler. He was
awarded a $25 prize for his submission.
Meanwhile, City council began work on the new City charter, a job
which proved to be time consuming and occasionally contentious.
Mayor Galbraith proposed that all residents, 21 years of age or
older, be given the right to vote in municipal elections.
The majority of aldermen balked at this radical idea. They decided
instead to give the vote to all adult property owners.
This was still a significant advance as it meant that married women
with property could now vote, unmarried women and widows with
property haven been given this right in 1901.
There were also arguments over tax exemptions for churches and a
minimum tax on lots. The former idea was accepted, while the latter
was eventually dropped.
The Alberta Legislature approved the new city charter with only a
few minor changes. With the charter officially approved on Oct. 25,
1913, Red Deer was now fully incorporated as a City.
Unfortunately, during the move into the new City Hall building in
1964, the original City charter was thrown out.
A replacement certificate of incorporation was issued by the
provincial government on June 29th, 1971.
That is the document that is now displayed in the Council Chambers
at City Hall.
Region celebrating century of railroad
(Red Deer Express March 2010)
Red Deer's downtown hotels have celebrated
(Red Deer Express June 2009)
Red Deer becomes a divisional point for CPR
(Red Deer Advocate Special March 2007)
Calgary and Edmonton Railway (CPR)
Calgary and Edmonton Railway at Red Deer (CPR)
News article: Arches mark influence of
railroad on city (Red Deer