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Why is Edmonton Alberta’s capital and not Calgary? 

Given how popular Calgary is, why is Edmonton the capital of Alberta and not Calgary? If you’ve just moved in or are touring Alberta’s attractions, this question may have come up at least once. 

So, as born-and-bred Edmontonians, we’ll answer this query and provide some context for how Edmonton became the capital of the province.

Why is Edmonton the capital of Alberta and not Calgary?

Why is Edmonton the capital of Alberta and not Calgary
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

According to historians, the chief reason Edmonton became the capital city of Alberta is that it was the dominant geographic and economic center in the province early on, when both cities were established.

In particular, major discoveries of oil and petrochemical sources in the area contributed to the incorporation of Edmonton as the capital city. 

When did Edmonton become Alberta’s capital? 

Edmonton became Alberta’s capital in 1905. However, it was first incorporated as a town much earlier (in 1982) and established as a city in 1904. 

Edmonton actually became the capital city at the same time Alberta was declared as a province by the Federal Liberal Government. 

Where did Edmonton’s name originate? 

The city was named after Edmonton, England. It’s a district in Enfield that is part of the greater London area where Sir James Winter Lake was born.

Sir Lake is one of the governors who attended the establishment of Hudson’s Bay Company’s fort. HBC officially named Edmonton to standardize the area’s name and for the Dominion Government to start accepting newcomers. 

How long has Edmonton been a city? 

As of 2023, Edmonton has been incorporated as a city for 119 years. It was officially recognized as a city in 1904. 

How was Edmonton, Alberta, founded?

How was Edmonton, Alberta, founded
Image Source: Edmonton Historical Board 

The city started as a fur trading fort for Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). 

Actually, the fort was moved to different locations a lot of times. However, in 1830, Fort Edmonton was built on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River

It was then known as the Gateway to the North in the early 1900s. During that time, railway systems, roads, as well as oil and gas pipelines were developed in the city. 

The transportation system is one of the pivotal parts of the settlement and development in the area. Even after the historic fur trade, the city thrived, and settlers began to spread. 

Who discovered Edmonton? 

Anthony Henday, an explorer working for HBC, was believed to be the first one to enter and settle in the Edmonton area in 1794.

In 1795, the area was developed as a major trading post for HBC. 

Note that even in the late 1800s, local governments were not yet established in western Canada. That’s why the standards for land titles and homesteads and legal systems are pretty much nonexistent. 

Why is Edmonton the capital of Alberta?

Why is Edmonton the capital of Alberta
Image Source: Chemical Institute of Canada 

Edmonton’s prominence over the economic and political section of Strathcona is one of the biggest factors why Edmonton was recognized as Alberta’s capital. 

Although Calgary is the largest city in Alberta in terms of land area and population, it’s not recognized as the capital city. 

The city started as a big trading post established in 1795 and was established as a capital city in 1905. The area became the center of the Saskatchewan district fur trade.

The subsequent oil boom and discoveries in Alberta also helped the city to achieve the status of being the Oil Capital of Canada. 

In the late 1900s, the settlement spread outside the Fort because of the highly fertile soil surrounding the area. 

Due to that, Edmonton became an established regional commercial and agricultural center in the province. Moreover, the population continually rose due to the massive immigration in and around the city.