Historical Timeline

  • Maximum extent of the continental ice sheets during the last Ice Age.
    26,500 Yrs BP

  • Last of the Mega Fauna like Mammoths, Lions, Rhinos, Camels, and Horses go extinct.
    17,000 Yrs BP

  • Alberta is mostly ice free and the mountain glaciers have retreated from the foothills.
    End of the last Ice Age.
    PaleoIndians inhabit the plains.
    9,000 Yrs BP

Pre-Contact Era

  • First use of Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump (Estipah-skikikini-kots).
    6500 yrs BP

  • The Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel (Iniskim Umaapi) first constructed near present day Bassano.
    5,200 Yrs BP

  • Parts of the Great Plains are depopulated as a result of a prolonged draught during the Medieval Warm Period
    650-1250 CE

  • The Plains are repopulated by diverse peoples, distinguishable by their languages, from all parts of the North American continent. The Numic languages (for example Comanche and Shoshoni) are from the Uto-Aztecan language family and came to the Plains from the southwest. Algonquian speakers (Plains Cree, Blackfoot, Saulteaux) are originally from the northeast. The Siouxan peoples (Great Sioux, Assiniboine, Nakoda, Mandan, Crow, etc.) speak a family of languages different from both of the above, and are from southeast.
    1300-1500 CE

Initial Contact Era
  • Jacques Cartier lands on the Quebec coast, the traditional territory of the Innu people.

  • Most of central and southern Alberta is part of the Hudson Bay watershed, and in 1670 is claimed by the English Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) as part of its monopoly territory, Rupert's Land. This is contested by French traders operating from Montreal, the Coureurs des bois. When France’s power on the continent is crushed after the fall of Quebec in 1759, the British HBC is left with unfettered control of the trade, and exercises its monopoly powers.

  • From the journal of Henry Kelsey circa 1690-1692 we get the first glimpse of alliances in the wider region. He reports that the emerging Iron Confederacy (Cree and Assiniboine) are on friendly terms with the Blackfoot Confederacy (Peigan, Kainai, and Siksika) and allied with them against a list of other groups whose identity is not known, the "Eagle Birch Indians, Mountain Poets, and Nayanwattame Poets".

  • The (Eastern) Shoshone are able to acquire horses from their southern linguistic cousins, and therefore became dominant on the Northern Plains. By the early 1700s their hunting range extends from the North Saskatchewan River in the north (present-day Alberta) to the Platte River in the south (Wyoming) and all along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and out onto the Plains to the east. The Shoshone are feared for constantly launching raids in order to capture more war prisoners. This earns them the hatred of all of their neighbours, and results in a temporary alliance between the Blackfoot Confederacy, Sarsis, Plains Cree, Assiniboines, and Gros Ventres in order to resist the Shoshone.

  • The first European to reach Alberta is a Frenchman Pierre La Vérendrye, or one of his sons, who has traveled inland to Manitoba in 1730, establishing forts and trading furs directly with the native peoples there.

  • The first written account of present-day Alberta comes to us from the fur trader Anthony Henday, who explores the vicinity of present-day Red Deer and Edmonton in 1754–55. He spends the winter with a group of Blackfoot, with whom he trades and goes buffalo hunting.
    Other important early explorers of Alberta include Peter Fidler, David Thompson, Peter Pond, Alexander MacKenzie, and George Simpson.

  • In a Royal Proclamation, King George III orders that Indigenous nations own their lands. The King declares that the only legal way newcomers can gain control of those lands is by making treaties between the two nations.

  • The HBC monopoly is challenged by the North West Company (NWC), a private Montreal-based company that hoped to recreate the old French trading network in the waters that did not drain to the Hudson Bay, such as the Mackenzie River, and waters draining to the Pacific Ocean. Many of Alberta’s cities and towns are started as either HBC or NWC trading posts, including Fort Edmonton.

  • Peter Pond's expedition sets up a trading post at the junction of the Sturgeon River and North Saskatchewan River near present-day Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

  • The Shoshone lose their monopoly on horses. Soon the Blackfoot have their own, obtained through trade from the Crow, captured in raids, or bred by the Blackfoot themselves. At the same time the Blackfoot begin to acquire firearms from the British Hudson’s Bay Company to the northeast, often via Cree and Assiniboine middlemen. The Piegans (and other Blackfoot) are then able to begin to push the Shoshone south of the Red Deer River by 1780.

  • European diseases come with the fur traders to Alberta. Initial epidemics are particularly deadly, and smallpox claims thousands of lives. As much as half the Indigenous people alive at the time die from the diseases.

  • Pond's explorations lead him to the Athabasca, a region stretching from Lac Île-à-la-Crosse to the Peace River. There he explores waterways around Lake Athabasca and determines the approximate locations of Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake from First Nations peoples of the area.

  • The Blackfoot conquest of Shoshone territory is complete. The Blackfoot claimed an area from the North Saskatchewan River in the north to the upper reaches of the Missouri River in the south, and from the Rockies east for 300 miles (480 km).
    A young David Thompson spends the winter with a band of Piikani (Peigan) encamped along the Bow River.

  • The Northwest Trading Company establish a trading post at Fort Chipewyan in 1788, making it the first settlement in Alberta, although Fort Vermilion disputes this claim, having also been founded in 1788. Permanent trading posts are established in Peace River district.

  • Fur trader Peter Pangman travelled up the North Saskatchewan River to a point three miles above present-day Rocky Mountain House, farther upstream than any white trader had gone until that time. He commemorated his achievement by blazing a spruce tree which became a landmark to later travellers such as David Thompson and Alexander Henry.

  • Fort Edmonton is built.

  • Rocky Mountain House and Acton House established They were a pair of fur trade posts from 1799 to 1876. Rocky Mountain House belonged to the North West Company (NWC) and Acton House to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). When the two companies merged in 1821, the name Rocky Mountain House was retained.

  • Part of what will become Alberta is purchased by the USA as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

  • HBC and NWC merge.

  • Crowfoot is born around 1830 near the Belly river in southern Alberta into the Kainai (Blood) of the Blackfoot Confederacy. During a raid for horses on a Crow camp, he performed bravely and was wounded, for which he was given his adult name Isapo-muxika, which translates as "Crow Indian's big foot," shortened to Crowfoot by interpreters.
    Some 40 million bison still roam the North American plains.

  • Two-thirds of the Blackfoot die from a smallpox epidemic.

  • Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent is crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Victorian and Colonial Era
  • The Methodist Robert Rundle arrives and will establish a mission in 1847.

  • Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault arrives at Fort Edmonton.
    He establishes a mission at Lac Sainte Anne in 1844.

  • Captain John Palliser is commissioned by the British Government to explore Canadian West. The expedition traversed Southern Alberta and the survey party once camped at the site of present-day Calgary.
    Palliser reported that the area (now known as the Palliser Triangle) in Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan was ill-suited for civilization, a region of short grasses and shrubs and desert-like conditions.

  • The Roman Catholic Church in Canada tasks Father Albert Lacombe with evangelizing the Plains Indians, which he has some success with. Several Alberta towns and regions are first settled by French missionary activity, such as St. Albert, and St. Paul. The Anglican Church of Canada and several other Protestant denominations also send missions to the West.

  • The sacred Manitou Stone, sometimes called “Old Man Buffalo,” is taken from a hilltop near Hardisty by George McDougall, a Methodist missionary. First Nations believe the meteorite is a protector of the buffalo and bringer of peace and prosperity, and if removed, the buffalo will disappear. In 1874 the Manitou Stone is given to a museum in Ontario, but is returned to the Royal Alberta Museum in 1972.

  • The Dominion of Canada, consisting of four provinces,Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, is formed under Confederation.

  • The current area of Alberta is included in the Northwest Territories as part of the Rupert's Land Act.

  • Crowfoot becomes chief of the Siksika Blackfoot.

  • HBC’s trade monopoly is abolished and trade in the region is opened to any entrepreneur.

  • The Hudson's Bay Company reluctantly and under pressure from Great Britain, sells Rupert's Land to the Dominion of Canada for $1.5 million. The sale involves roughly a quarter of the North American continent, but fails to take into account the existing residents, mainly Aboriginal and Metis.
    It is acquired by the fledgling Dominion of Canada in the hopes that it will become an agricultural frontier settled by White Canadians. In order to "open up" the land to settlement, the government begins negotiating the Numbered Treaties with the various Native nations, which offers them reserved lands and the right to government support in exchange for ceding all claims to the majority of the lands to the Crown.
    Rupert's Land is renamed the North West Territories.
    July 15, 1870.

  • Led by Louis Riel, the Métis establish a provisional government and negotiate the entry of Manitoba into Canadian confederation under the Manitoba Act of 1870. The Manitoba Act states that Métis lands will be protected but that all other lands are the property of the Dominion of Canada.

  • Battle of the Belly River between the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Cree. It is the last major battle fought between native nations on Canadian soil.
    Oct 25 1870

  • Dominion Lands Act Passed
    The Dominion Lands Act of 1872 outlined the provisions for granting homesteads to western settlers: free homesteads of 160 acres were offered to farmers who cleared ten acres and built a residence within three years of a registered intent to settle a specific land claim.
    Apr 14 1872

  • The decline of the HBC’s power has allowed American whiskey traders and hunters to expand into southern Alberta, disrupting the Native way of life. Of particular concern is the infamous Fort Whoop-Up near present-day Lethbridge.

  • In order to bring law and order to the West, the Canadian government creates a paramilitary unit originally called the North West Mounted Rifles and was patterned on other Imperial Colonial forces. The name was changed to the North-West Mounted Police, soon known as the "mounties", to avoid antagonizing the Americans.
    May 1873

  • Cypress Hills massacre, 30 Assiniboines are killed near a whiskey post.
    Whiskey traders and some wolf hunters from Fort Benton scattered a Nakota (Assiniboine) camp of 50 lodges, killing at least 20 men, women, and children beside what is now called Battle Creek.
    At the same time as whiskey is being introduced to the First Nations, firearms are becoming more easily available. Meanwhile, white hunters are shooting huge numbers of Plains Bison, the primary food source of the plains tribes. Diseases are also spreading among the tribes. Warfare and starvation become rampant on the plains.
    June 1 1873

  • Agreement between the USA and representatives of Queen Victoria's Imperial Government fixes the border along the 49th parallel.

  • 275 NWMP officers begin their legendary "march west" towards Alberta. They reach the western end of the trek by September setting up a new headquarters at Fort Macleod. The force is then divided, half going north to Edmonton, and half heading back to Manitoba. The next year, new outposts are founded: Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills, and Fort Calgary, around which the city of Calgary would form.
    July 1874

  • Two Oblate missionaries,Constantine Scollen and Léon Doucet found Our Lady of Peace Mission West of Calgary. This is the first permanent mission among the Siksika Blackfoot and the first Catholic mission in southern Alberta.

  • Fort Calgary is established
    Commanded by Éphrem A. Brisebois, "F" Troop of the NWMP travelled north from Fort Macleod to find a suitable spot on the Bow for a fort to suppress the whiskey traders in the area. The post was originally called "The Elbow" or "Bow Fort". Captain Brisebois attempted to rename the fort after himself, but due to his unpopularity, it was renamed Fort Calgary in 1876 by James MacLeod.
    Apr 10 1875

  • Treaty 6 is signed between Queen Victoria and representatives of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Dene, Assiniboine and Ojibwa leaders at Fort Carlton and Fort Pitt in Saskatchewan. The treaty boundaries extend across central portions of present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan.

  • All laws dealing with “Indians” are consolidated under the Indian Act, which gives greater control to the Department of Indian Affairs to intervene in a wide variety of issues and make sweeping policies. The Indian Act aims to eradicate First Nations’ culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. The Act deprives First Nations people of the right to govern themselves, denies them Canadian citizenship and bars them from voting in federal and provincial elections. The Act restricts their ability to conduct commerce and to own land. The Indian Act applies only to First Nations and not to the Métis or Inuit.

    Black American cowboy John Ware arrives in Alberta.
    Like most hired hands, Ware is American, but the industry is then dominated by powerful British and Ontario-born magnates such as Patrick Burns.

  • Treaty 7 signed between Queen Victoria and several, mainly Blackfoot, First Nations bands under Chief Crowfoot in southern Alberta. Signed at Blackfoot Crossing on the Siksika Nation it is the last of the numbered treaties negotiated and signed during the 1870s. The treaty covers the southern part of present-day Alberta.

  • The last remnants of the once great bison herds cross south into Montana never to return.

  • Amendment to the Indian Act known as the "Ceremony ban".
    Section 3 of "An Act Further to Amend The Indian Act", makes practices like the sun dance, pow wow and other ceremonies a criminal offence. Anyone participating or helping in a ceremony can be imprisoned.

  • Northwest Territories is divided into four districts: Alberta, Assiniboia East, Assiniboia West, and Saskatchewan. The Provisional District of Alberta is named for Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, and wife of the Marquess of Lorne who was Governor General of Canada at the time.

  • The peace and stability the Mounties bring foster dreams of mass settlement on the Canadian Prairies. The land is surveyed by the Canadian Pacific Railway for possible routes to the Pacific. The early favourite is a northerly line that went through Edmonton and the Yellowhead Pass. The success of the Mounties in the South, coupled with a government desire to establish Canadian sovereignty of that area, and the CPR’s desire to undercut land speculators, prompts the CPR to announce a last minute switch of the route to a more southerly path passing through Calgary and the Kicking Horse Pass. This is against the advice of some surveyors who said that the south is an arid zone not suitable for agricultural settlement.
    Progress across the plains is rapid and the CPR reaches Calgary with the first passenger train ariving on August 5, 1883.

  • Indian residential schools first appear in Western Canada in 1883–84, with schools opened in Qu’Appelle, High River and Battleford.

  • The Canadian government’s promises of land to the Métis under the Manitoba Act are not fulfilled. With the CPR nearly complete the North West Rebellion, led by Louis Riel, breaks out between Métis and First Nations groups and the Canadian government.
    The rebellion stretches over what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta. After a Cree war party attack a white settlement at Frog Lake, Saskatchewan (now in Alberta), Canadian militia from Ontario are sent to the District of Alberta via the CPR and fight against the rebels. The rebels are defeated at Batoche, Saskatchewan and Riel is later taken prisoner and hanged for treason.

  • The CPR is completed with the "Last Spike" being driven at Craigellachie in Eagle Pass, British Columbia.
    November 7 1885

  • Calgary Fire.
    The fire began at the rear wall of the local flour and feed store, and spread through the community's wooden structures. The recently organized Calgary Fire Department successfully used the recently ordered but not yet paid for chemical engine.
    The town is rebuilt using locally quarried sandstone.
    Nov 7 1886

  • After the discovery of hot springs by CPR workers, Banff National Park is created, including land that had been previously allocated to First Nations in Treaty 7.

  • The closing of the American frontier leads as many as 600,000 Americans to move to Saskatchewan and Alberta, where the farming frontier is flourishing.

  • Chief Crowfoot dies. He is buried at Blackfoot Crossing where Treaty 7 was signed. A bronze marker was placed on the grave indicating that he was a "Father of his People".
    Apr 25 1890

  • The Stoney Nakoda First Nation are removed from Banff National Park between 1890 and 1920. The national park’s exclusion policy meets its goals of sport hunting, tourism and game conservation.

  • Calgary-Edmonton Railway reaches Red Deer. Tracklaying reaches the new Red Deer townsite on land purchased from Rev. Leonard Gaetz resulting in the eventual abandonment of the Red Deer Crossing settlement.
    Nov 1890

  • The Indian Act is amended to make attendance at day schools, industrial schools or residential schools compulsory for First Nations children. Parents have no choice but to send their children to school.

  • A concentrated Western Settlement Campaign brings many immigrants to Alberta.

  • Treaty 8 is signed between Queen Victoria and various First Nations, including the Woodland Cree, Dunne-za (or Beaver) and Denesuline (Chipewyan) in northern Alberta, northeastern British Columbia, northwestern Saskatchewan and the southern Northwest Territories.

  • Queen Victoria dies ending the Victorian Era.
    Jan 22 1901

  • The Frank Slide dams the Crowsnest River, destroys coal mines, infrastructure, and buries houses and buildings, 76 people are killed.

  • The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan join Canada.
    Edmonton becomes capital of Alberta.

Provincial Era
  • Jasper National Park is created. Treaty 6 First Nations people are expelled from the area.

  • Feeling abused by the railroads and the grain elevators, militant farm organizations appear, notably the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA). Guided by the ideas of William Irvine and later by Henry Wise Wood, the UFA is intended at first to represent economic interests rather than to act as another political party.

  • Alberta Provincial Legislature building in Edmonton officially opened.

  • Hillcrest coal mine explosion kills 139.
    Oil is discovered in Turner Valley.
    Turner Valley is for a time the largest oil and gas producer in the British Empire.

  • Word War I breaks out in Europe.
    July 28 1914

  • Alberta becomes the third province to grant women the right to vote in provincial elections.

  • Word War I ends Europe.
    Nov 11 1918

  • The UFA wins a landslide in the provincial election.

  • Wood Buffalo National Park is created on Crown land acquired through Treaty 8 with the local First Nations. Located in northeastern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, it is the largest national park in Canada.

  • A group of Albertans (the Famous Five) gained official recognition for women as people from federal government

To Be Continued ...