Southern Alberta Timeline

only the events and people that directly impacted Southern Alberta (below Township 40) are included in this timeline.

May 2

Hudson Bay Company Incorporated

The Hudson Bay Company was incorporated by English Royal Charter and given exclusive trading rights in Rupert's Land, including most of Alberta.

Text of the Royal Charter of the Hudson's Bay Company


Shoshone move into Alberta

The Eastern Shoshone adopted horses much sooner than their neighbours to the North, the Blackfoot Confederacy. With the advantage in speed and mobility that horses provided in battle, the Eastern Shoshone were able to expand to the north and soon occupied much of present-day southern and central Alberta.


Northern tribes retaliate

The Siksika (Blackfoot) and other northern groups begin to push the Shoshone southward.

Oct 15

Anthony Henday

Anthony Henday and his party encounter the main Siksika (Blackfoot) camp, approximately 18 miles southeast of the present-day site of Red Deer. located on a hillside 4 miles west of the south end of Pine Lake.

Biography of Anthony Henday


Smallpox arrives in Alberta

Carried north by southern tribes, the smallpox epidemic of 1781-82 decimated the Indigenous population of Alberta. It is estimated that between half to two-thirds of the population within the borders of present day Alberta died.


David Thompson

A young David Thompson spent the winter with a band of Piikani (Peigan) encamped along the Bow River. He was the first recorded European to visit the area.

David Thompson reported that the Siksika (Blackfoot) had completely conquered most of the Shoshone territory.

Biography of David Thompson


Peter Pangman

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.

Biography of Peter Pangman

Mar 15

Peter Fidler

Fur trader and surveyor Peter Fidler travelled from Hudson Bay to southwestern Alberta and the Rocky Mountains. His journal provides the names and locations of several Indigenous groups in Alberta.

Biography of Peter Fidler


Rocky Mountain House and Acton House established

Rocky Mountain House and Acton House 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.


Crowfoot born

Crowfoot was 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 roamed the North American plains.

Biography of Crowfoot


Captain John Palliser commissioned by British Government to explore Canadian West

The expedition led by John Palliser traversed Southern Alberta and the survey party once camped at the site of present-day Calgary.

Palliser reported an area (now known as Palliser's Triangle) in Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan was ill-suited for civilization, a region of short grasses and shrubs and desert-like conditions.

Palliser also noted an extensive fertile belt surrounded this region and was well suited for stock-raising and cultivation.

Biography of John Palliser


Fort Whoop-Up established

Located six kilometres southwest of Lethbridge on the Oldman River, the fort was originally known as Fort Hamilton. It was established by Montana traders John J. Healy and Alfred B. Hamilton to trade whiskey for bison robes from the local Indigenous people, after such trade was banned in the United States.

Eventually about 26 such trading posts would established in southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan.

Mar 20

Hudson's Bay Company sells Rupert's Land

The Hudson's Bay Company reluctantly and under pressure from Great Britain, sold Rupert's Land to the Dominion of Canada for $1.5 million. The sale involved roughly a quarter of the North American continent, but failed to take into account the existing residents, mainly Aboriginal and Metis.

Read about the Deed of Surrender on the HBC Heritage site.

Crowfoot becomes a head chief of the Siksika (Blackfoot)

Following the Smallpox epidemic of 1869-70, Crowfoot becomes one of the two remaining main Siksika chiefs.

Oct 25

Battle of the Belly River

The Battle of the Belly River was the last major conflict between the Iron Confederacy and the Blackfoot Confederacy, and the last major battle between First Nations on Canadian soil. The battle took place on the banks of the Belly River within the present limits of the city of Lethbridge.

Apr 14

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.

Jun 1

The Cypress Hills Massacre

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. The event was a catalyst for the formation of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP).

First permanent Catholic mission

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

John Glenn

John Glenn was the first documented European settler in the Calgary area.

Biography of John Glenn

John Glenn dedicated website


Morleyville Mission Established

The settlement in the Mînî Thnî (formerly Morley) area begins with the arrival of the Methodist missionary John Chantler McDougall and his wife, Elizabeth, in November 1873 to establish a missionary outpost in the Bow Valley for outreach to the Nakota (Stoney) and Siksika (Blackfoot) First Nations.

Biography of John Chantler McDougall


Coal mining begins

Nicholas Sheran established the first ferrying service along the Oldman River (then called the Belly river) and he noticed that there were large seams of coal exposed on the bank. When Sheran realized this coal was "c-bitiminous" highly volatile medium carbon coal, he began to mine the banks of the river himself, and initially sold the coal to locals. Large scale mining would not take place until 1882 with the founding of the North Western Coal and Navigation Company.

Oct 18

Fort Macleod is established

After a gruelling march west and arriving at a largely abandoned Fort Whoop-Up on the 9th of October, 1874, the North West Mounted Police (with the help of their guide Jerry Potts) select a site for their base of operations on the Oldman River.

Biography of Jerry Potts

Apr 10

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 supress 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.

Biography of Éphrem A. Brisebois

Sep 22

Treaty Number 7 signed

The last of the numbered treaties negotiated and signed during the 1870s. The treaty covers the southern part of present-day Alberta. The agreement was signed at the Blackfoot Crossing of the Bow River.

Text of the Treaty


The Bison hunt largely ends

The last remnants of the once-great herds of bison cross south into Montana.

Aug 10

The Canadian Pacific Railway reaches Calgary

First passenger train arrives August 10th.


Nov 7

Calgary Incorporated

Calgary incorporated as a town, population 506, and elected its first mayor, George Murdoch.

Biography of George Murdoch

Apr 20

Alberta Field Force

Major-General Thomas Bland Strange marches north from Calgary to Edmonton and then down the North Saskatchewan River with a force composed of three very green militia battalions along with a few mounted policemen and cowboys in search of the Cree under Big Bear.

Biography of Thomas Bland Strange

Nov 7

Calgary on 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.

Ultimately, fourteen buildings were destroyed or razed in attempts to control the blaze. Losses were estimated at $103,200, however no one was killed or injured. Authorities suggested arson may have been involved, but no arrests were made.

To reduce the potential for future fires, city officials drafted a law that all large downtown buildings were to be built with Paskapoo sandstone.

Feb 22

First Member of Parliament for the Alberta District Elected

Donald Watson Davis, an American Civil War veteran and former whiskey trader turned merchant was elected for two terms to the Parliament of Canada.

In Parliament he said little, but according to the April 18th, 1888 issue of the Calgary Weekly Herald, after a particularly long session, "He danced the Blackfoot Indian war dance. The dancer held his body in an erect position, but dropped his head on his breast separated his feet several inches and without a motion of his body jumped along the table on which he was performing uttering blood curdling yells. Sir John who came in to witness the dance, enjoyed it immensely."

Apr 25

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".


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 29

City of Lethbridge incorporated