Laurier's 1910 visit
huge event for City
reprinted from Red Deer Express August 4, 2010
Next week marks an important
anniversary in our community's history.
It was 100 years ago, on Aug. 10 to 12, 1910, that Sir Wilfrid
Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, made an extended visit to Red
Deer. It was one of the most exciting official visits by a national
political figure that Red Deer has ever experienced.
The visit was part of a two-month long tour of Western Canada. The
prairies were the fastest growing part of the country. Since Laurier
was acutely aware of the increasing importance of the region to the
nation as a whole, he wanted to make an extensive visit to view the
progress first hand. He also wanted to learn more about the issues
and problems of the West.
News that Laurier would be including Red Deer as a major stop on his
tour was received in early June. Committees were quickly struck to
make the necessary plans. The local citizens not only wanted to
suitably welcome the Prime Minister to the community, they also
wanted to ensure the recognition of Red Deer as one of the centres
of growth and prosperity in the West.
Laurier was scheduled to arrive in Red Deer on the afternoon of
Wednesday Aug. 10 on a train from Edmonton. While brief stops were
planned for Wetaskiwin, Ponoka and Lacombe on the way, Laurier was
not scheduled to leave Red Deer until the morning of Aug. 12.
Consequently, several Central Alberta communities agreed to join
with Red Deer in organizing a major public meeting in the new
Waskasoo Park next to Piper's Mountain on Waskasoo Creek.
As part of the preparations, a very impressive archway was
constructed at the intersection of Gaetz Ave. and Ross St. It had
four large towers. It was covered in flags, bunting, sheaves of
grain, and local produce. There were large signs with slogans of
welcome and boosting Red Deer. The local Western General Electric
power company donated several hundred bulbs so that the edifice
could be lit up at night.
SPECIAL WELCOME - The Laurier Arch on the corner of Ross
Street and Gaetz Avenue on Aug. 10, 1910.
courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives
Huge crowds greeted Laurier's arrival on the afternoon of Aug. 10.
The official party, which included Laurier, Alberta Premier Arthur
Sifton, several MPs, MLAs and local elected officials, made their
way to the Civic Square on Ross St. for lengthy speeches of welcome.
Special time was also given to the provincial president of the
United Farmers of Alberta, James Bower of Red Deer, so that he could
present the concerns and viewpoints of the farmers. So important was
the speech to Bower that although he started to have a heart attack,
he refused to be taken to hospital until after he had finished
making his presentation to the prime minister.
After the civic reception, everyone headed to a spot on the South
Hill for the driving of the first spike for the Alberta Central
Railway. The ACR was a very ambitious venture and was part of a plan
to help make Red Deer a major rail hub in Western Canada.
A sudden thunderstorm cut short the large public meeting the next
day in Waskasoo Park. All those who were able quickly relocated to
the Lyric Theatre on Ross St. where the speeches by the dignitaries
continued. Unfortunately, the theatre owners had put heavy coats of
shellac on the wooden seats the day before. Many of the attendees
consequently left large portions of their clothing behind when they
went to leave.
The visit wrapped up on the Thursday evening with an elaborate
reception on the lawn of H.H. Gaetz's large residence on Douglas
Laurier departed early Friday morning after spending a second night
in the Ellis mansion on the corner of Douglas St. and Poplar (46)
Despite the two thunderstorms and the other glitches, everyone
agreed that the visit had been a wonderful success and that Red Deer
had successfully asserted its rightful place on the new economic and
political map of Canada.
Laurier also took many of the policy ideas presented to him in Red
Deer and elsewhere during his Western tour and included them in his
party's platform in the 1911 federal election. Although the result
was that Laurier and his Liberals won all but one seat in Alberta,
(with a similar result in Saskatchewan), they were defeated
nationally by Sir Robert Borden's Conservatives.
look back at the Alberta Central Railway
(Red Deer Express Sept.2014)
Mintlaw Bridge essential to region's railroad
(Red Deer Express March 2010)
Sir Wilfrid Laurier visited Red Deer
(Red Deer Advocate May 2010)
The origins of
Alberta Central Rail pillar
(Red Deer Express April 2008)
Alberta Central Railway helped open region
(Red Deer Advocate Special March 2007)
John T. Moore
(Red Deer Express Feb.2003)
Alberta Central Railway (CPR)
- Red Deer to Rocky
ACR/CPR Mintlaw Steel Trestle
News article: Red Deer County seeks partners
to afford bridge access
(Mountain View Gazette Apr.2012)
News article: County council looks at bridge
as tourist attraction
(Red Deer Advocate April 2012)
News article: Plans for Mintlaw Bridge waiting
on public feedback
(Mountain View Gazette Feb.2012)
News article: Opposition comes forward to Mintlaw Bridge preservation
(Mountain View Gazette May 2011)
News article: Reinforcing our history
(Red Deer Advocate Mar.2011)
News article: Repairs planned for crumbling
(Red Deer Advocate Feb.2011)
News article: RD County antes up for Mintlaw
(Mountain View Gazette Nov.2010)
News article: Bridging gap between history and
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2010)
News article: County buys bridge for a buck
(Red Deer Advocate Dec.2009)
News article: County buys historic railway bridge
(Red Deer Express Dec.2009)
article: Historic significance of concrete obelisk preserved in
mural (Red Deer Advocate Oct.2008)