The History of Chestermere

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Long before Calgary or Chestermere existed, the area was the territory of the Blackfoot people. They occupied the land for centuries, where the bison were an integral part of their way of life. Massive bison herds moved through the area during the year, providing the Indigenous people with much of what they needed to survive.

Eventually, Europeans began to arrive, bringing with them the railroad. Today, Chestermere sits on Treaty 7 land.

Prior to the Canadian Pacific Railway’s construction in the 1880s, the area of Chestermere was settled by only a few farmers. Once the railroad was built, more farmers started to arrive and with Chestermere Lake being a natural wetland, it was used as a balancing pool for the Western Irrigation Block.

The earliest settlers were a Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Sullivan who arrived in 1882 before the railroad had arrived.

By 1890, seven families called the community home.

In 1907, a dam and canal system was built and the wetland became a lake and the farmers used the water for irrigation.

At first, the lake was only used for recreation and people leased land from the irrigation district which took over the land from the CPR in 1944. They built cabins and stayed at the lake in the summer.

In 1959, the Chestermere Cabin Owners Association was incorporated with 50 members. This organization brought in a fire truck for fire protection, reduced the pollution in the lake, planted trees, hooked up electricity and natural gas and helped develop the area.

With the area being so popular, many wanted to stay long-term at the lake. In 1975, the association bought the land from the irrigation district and had it transferred to the residents. In 1977, the lake had 120 permanent homes and as more people lived there, the community gained political influence that led to more infrastructure, a community hall, a recreation centre and a golf course.

At the time though, it was deemed by the Minister of the Environment that the community would not be allowed to grow beyond its current size.

By 1992, Chestermere had over 1,000 residents and in 1993, it became the Town of Chestermere. The community has continued to develop. From 2004 to 2014, the community’s population surged by 150 per cent and by 2015 it had 17,000 people. That same year, it became Alberta’s 18th city.

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