19731722019 | View of the town of Cardston, AB, 1904
View of the town of Cardston, AB, 1904
1904, 20th century
Silver salts on paper
This artefact belongs to : © Sir Alexander Galt Museum and Archives
Keys to History
In 1887 a group of Mormons led by Charles Ora Card (1839-1906) settled at Lee's Creek, now the site of Cardston. When Card approached the Canadian government to purchase more land for his settlers, he was rejected. He then turned to Charles A. Magrath (1860-1949), land agent for the Alberta Railway & Coal Company (AR&CCo.) Magrath and Elliott Galt were both sympathetic to Card's situation, and enthusiastic when Card asserted that large scale irrigation was feasible in southern Alberta, would increase land values, bring hordes of new settlers and create a thriving agricultural economy in the region. In 1891 the AR&CCo. sold 720,000 acres of land to John W. Taylor and Charles Ora Card, acting for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The sale included plans for a joint AR&CCo.-Mormon venture to develop a large-scale irrigation project south of Lethbridge. Unfortunately, neither the directors of the company nor the leaders of the church were interested in such a plan. The disapproval of the federal government was also an obstacle. The politicians and bureaucrats were worried that prospective settlers would be scared away by the idea that land in southern Alberta required irrigation to be productive.
This photograph shows a view of the Town of Cardston in 1904.
The quarter sections of land immediately surrounding the settlement were numbered, and the numbers put into a hat. Each man drew for his quarter section.
Twenty cm of snow fell the night the settlers arrived at their new home. The town plan was divided into three tiers of four blocks each, with lots 17 square rods (430 square metres) in size.
Card took ten selected families with him to Lee's Creek. They arrived with nine wagons, twenty-three horses, forty head of cattle and crates of chickens.