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(In Detail) (In Detail)
Motto: Fortis et Liber (Strong and free)
Largest city

 - Total
 - % fresh water
6th largest
(4th lgst prov.)

661 848 kmē
 - Total (2001)
 - Density
Ranked 4th
3 064 249
Admittance into Confederation
 - Date
 - Order
Split off
from NWT

1 September 1905
Time zone UTC -7
Postal information
Postal abbreviation
Postal code prefix
ISO 3166-2CA-AB

 Seats in the House
 Seats in the Senate

PremierRalph Klein (P.C.)
Lieutenant-GovernorLois Hole
Government of Alberta

Alberta is one of Canada's provinces. Its capital is the city of Edmonton. Other cities and towns include Banff, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. See also: List of communities in Alberta.

As of 2001, the population of the province is 3,064,249 (Albertans). The Premier of the province is Ralph Klein. See also List of Alberta Premiers.

Alberta is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (d. 1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria.


Main Article: Geography of Alberta

Alberta is in western Canada. Area 661,190 km² (260,000 mi²) It is bounded to the south by the United States boundary line, 49° north. Eastwards at 110° west it borders the province of Saskatchewan. At 60° north it is separated from the Northwest Territories. To the west by the line of peaks of the Rocky Mountains range, which runs northwesterly, and divides it from British Columbia.

With the exception of the southern section, the province of Alberta may be said to be well watered. Alberta contains numerous rivers and lakes. While a number of fresh-water, or in some cases brackish, lakes each less than 260 km² (100 mi²) in extent are situated in Alberta, two of more considerable size are found. These are Lake Athabasca, 7898 km² (3085 mi²) in extent, of which a part is in the province of Saskatchewan, and the other Lesser Slave Lake some 1550 km² (600 mi²) in area.

As Alberta extends for 1200 km (750 miles) from north to south, it is natural that the climate should vary considerably between parallels of 49° and 60° north and also between 110° and 120° west. It is also further influenced by the different altitudes above the sea of the several parts of the province.

Southern Alberta, which contains Calgary and its suburbs, is a great ranching district, permitting cattle to run at large through the whole winter. In the winter, it can experience an effect known as Chinook winds. While elevating the temperature they bring more moisture into the air and produce a change not entirely desirable.

Central Alberta contains the steady winter climate of Edmonton and area. This while averaging a lower temperature than Southern Alberta, is not so subject to change. This climate is much less influenced by the Pacific winds.

Northern Alberta, having a mean winter temperature of 4.6°C lower than Calgary, is a decidedly sub-arctic climate. It is the region in winter of constant ice and snow, but its lower altitude gives a somewhat moderate climate similar to Central Alberta's.


Main Article: Industry of Alberta

Alberta is the largest producer of conventional crude, synthetic crude, natural gas and gas products in the country. Two of the larges producers of petrochemicals in North America are located in central and north central Alberta. In both Red Deer and Edmonton, world class polyethylene and vinyl manufacturers produce products shipped all over the world.

The Athabasca Tar Sands (now referred to as the Athabasca Oil Sands) have estimated oil reserves in excess of that the rest of the world, estimated to be 1.6 trillion barrels. With the advancement of extraction methods, bitumen and economical synthetic crude are produced at costs nearing that of conventional crude. This technology is Alberta grown and developed. Many companies employ both conventional strip mining and non-convention extraction methods to extract the bitumen from the Athabasca deposit. With current technology, only 315 billion barrels are recoverable.

While Edmonton is considered the pipeline junction and refining centre of the province, Calgary is known for its senior and junior oil company head offices.

Beef and agriculture hold significant positions in the province's economy. Over 5 million cattle are residents of the province at one time or another. Alberta is one of the prime producers of plains buffalo (bison) for the consumer market. With concerted effort and support from the provincial government, several high-tech industries have found their birth in Alberta, notably the invention and perfection of liquid crystal display systems. With a growing economy, Alberta has several financial institutions dealing with several civil and private funds.


Main Article: Government of Alberta

The government of Alberta is carried on by a provincial government resembling that of the other Canadian provinces. The capital of the province is Edmonton, and here reside the premier, legislature, lieutenant-governor and cabinet. The legislature consists of one house -- the Legislative Assembly -- of 83 members. Government is conducted after the Westminster model. The province's revenue, although including grants from the federal government, is chiefly derived from management of the provincial resources. The largest difference from other provinces is that Albertans are the lowest taxed people in Canada; Alberta is the only province in Canada without a provincial sales tax (PST). Alberta has a system of municipal government similar to that of the other provinces.

Alberta politics are more right-wing than those of any Canadian province. The provincial government has been from a series of right wing parties for decades, first with Social Credit and today with the Conservatives. The current premier of Alberta is Ralph Klein, who despite having beaten a problem with alcohol, remains extremely popular in the province. Alberta is also the heartland of the Canadian Alliance, formerly the second largest political party in parliament and the furthest right, which recently merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form the new Conservative Party of Canada. Both provincial governments and the Alliance reflect Alberta more socially conservative nature than other provinces.

See also: List of Alberta Premiers


Main Article: Culture of Alberta

Alberta is well known for its friendly albeit somewhat basic cultural activities. It is the Canadian province with the fewest literary works published per capita. It lacks the strong traditional musical culture of the Maritimes, and the experimental scene of British Columbia but is known for a warm and outgoing friendliness mixed with the Klondike and Stampede spirit.

Summer brings a multitude of festivals to the province. The Fringe Festivals, Folk Festivals, Multi-culture Festivals, Heritage Days -- just to name a few -- highlight the province's cultural diversity and love of entertainment. Most of the major cities have several performing theatre companies who entertain the populace with everything from opera to soap opera in venues as diverse as the Jubilee Theatre to the Bus Barns.

Both cities tout first-class Canadian Football League and National Hockey League teams. Baseball (Pacific Coast League) and soccer as well as rugby and lacrosse are played professionally in Alberta.

In 2001 one British journalist nicknamed Edmonton 'Deadmonton' for its lack of culture and night life. He later recanted after being shown the city by the then mayor Bill Smith by helicopter.


Many Albertans are some form of Christian faith; however, a wide variety of other faiths also present, as well as many people professing no religion. Alberta has a higher percentage of evangelical Christians than other provinces.

The Mormons of Alberta are in the most southerly part of the province, and are a colony from the Mormon settlements in Utah. On coming to Canada they were given lands by the Dominion of Canada. The organization adopted in Utah among the Mormons is found also in Alberta, but the Canadian Mormons profess to have received a later revelation condemning polygamy.


Main Article: History of Alberta

The present province of Alberta as far north as the height of land (53° N.) was from the time of the incorporation of the Hudson's Bay Company (1670) a part of Rupert's Land. After the discovery of the northwest by the French in 1731 and succeeding years the prairies of the west were occupied by them, and Fort La Jonquière was established near the present city of Calgary (1752). The North-West Company of Montreal occupied the northern part of Alberta district before the Hudson's Bay Company succeeded in coming from Hudson Bay to take possession of it. The first hold of the Athabasca region was gained by Peter Pond, who, on behalf of the North-West Company of Montreal, built Fort Athabasca on Lac La Biche in 1778. Roderick Mackenzie, cousin of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, built Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca in 1788. By way of the North Saskatchewan River Alexander Mackenzie crossed the height of land, and proceeding northward discovered the river which bears his name, and also the Arctic Sea. Afterward going westward from Lake Athabasca and through the Peace River, he reached the Pacific Ocean, being the first white man to cross the North American continent, north of Mexico.

As part of the Northwest Territories the district of Alberta was organized in 1875. Additional privileges and a local legislature were added from time to time. At length in 1905 the district of Alberta was enlarged and the present province formed by the Dominion parliament. (G. BR.)

Fauna and Flora


The three climatic regions of Alberta have naturally a varying fauna. The south and central region was the land of the bison, its grasses affording a great pasture ground for tens of thousands of "buffalo." They were destroyed by whites and Indians 1870 to 1882 on the approach of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Grizzly, black and Cinnamon bears are found in the mountains and wooded districts. The coyote, here and there the grey wolf, the fox and the mountain lion (puma) occur. The moose and red deer are found in the wooded regions, and the mule deer, jumping deer and antelope on the prairies. Wild sheep and goats live in the Rocky Mountains. The lynx, wolverine, porcupine, skunk, hare, squirrel, marmot and mouse are met. The gopher (Richardson's ground squirrel) is a resident of the dry plains. District (C) is the fur-trader's paradise. The plains buffalo is replaced by the wood buffalo, of which a few survive. The musk oxen come in thousands every year to the great northern lakes, while the mink, marten, beaver, otter, ermine and muskrat are sought by the fur-trader. Fort Chipewyan was long known in Hudson's Bay Company history as the great depot of the Mackenzie River district. Northern Alberta and the region farther north is the nesting-ground of the migratory birds. Here vast numbers of ducks, geese, swans and pelicans resort every year. Craness, partridges and varieties of singing birds abound. The eagle, hawk, owl and crow are plentiful. Mosquitoes and flies are everywhere, and the wasp and wild bee also. In the rivers and lakes pike, pickerel, white fish and sturgeon supply food for the natives, and the brook trout is found in the small mountain streams. The turtle and frog also appear.


In central and northern Alberta the opening spring brings in the prairie anemone, the avens and other early flowers. The advancing summer introduces many flowers of the sunflower family, until in August the plains are one blaze of yellow and purple. The southern part of Alberta is covered by a short grass, very nutritive, but drying up in the middle of summer until the whole prairie is brown and unattractive. The trees in the wooded sections of the province are seen in clumps and belts on the hill sides. These are largely deciduous. On the north side of the Saskatchewan River forests prevail for scores and even hundreds of miles. They contain the poplar or aspen (Populus tremuloides), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), and paper or canoe birch (Fetula papyrifera.) Conifers are found northward and in the mountain valleys. Some of these are: Jack pine (Pinus banksiana), Rocky Mountain pine (Pinus flexilis), black pine (Pinus murrayana), white spruce (Picea alba), black spruce (Picea nigra), Engelman's spruce (Picea engelmanni), mountain balsam (Abies subalpina), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga douglasii), mountain larch (Larix lyallis.)

See also