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History: The Trading Post - Edmonton

The Edmonton Bulletin
January 3, 1907

Contributed for use in Alberta Digital Archives by Darlene Homme.

Actual scanned images of some early Alberta newspapers are online at
The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project


The changing times are bringing to Edmonton not only a change in the appearance, size and importance of 
the city, but a change also in the sources whence the city derives its sustenance and upon which it is 
dependent for its growth and prosperity. With the passing of the old order pass also the conditions under 
which Edmonton came into being and under which she has reached the present stage of development; and 
the future of the city depends on their being replaced by conditions as congenial to growth and prosperity.

Edmonton the town developed from Edmonton the trading post and in the transition did not loose her original  
--. Edmonton came into being -- trading town. As the Hudson's Bay post at Edmonton was established as a 
trading centre for the -- of the Upper Saskatchewan. Edmonton the town grew up as a trading centre for the 
settlers who -eeded them. The trade created the beginning of settlement in the Edmonton district was the 
reason why a town of Edmonton began and according as that settlement extended or did not extend the town 
of Edmonton grew or did not grown. And while other causes contributed it was the extension of this 
settlement and the consequent expansion and increase of trade which again transformed Edmonton from a 
town to a city. And again in this second transition Edmonton maintained her original character of a trading 
post. Whatever else Edmonton may be or become, she is primarily and dis-- as she has been, a trading post.

There is another transition in progress however which should not be lost sight of - a change not so much of 
the character of the city as in the character of the trade on which the city depends. Before construction of the 
Canadian Northern railway Edmonton was the only large trading centre north of the Saskatchewan river. Not 
only was she the largest town, but practically the market town for settlement exting from thirty miles west and 
upward of one hundred miles east and northeast. Practically all of the trade of the settlement north of the city 
and along the Sturgeon river and of twenty or thirty miles of settled country westward beling to her, while the 
east with the exception of Strathcona, which disputed with her the trade of Clover Bar and Beaver Lake, she 
was the centre to which the farmers brought their produce and in which they made their purchases.

This local trade Edmonton is of necessity losing. The construction of the Canadian Northern gave the 
opportunity for the development and growth of the new villages already existing and to the establishment of 
new villages and towns in districts where non had formerly existed. This naturally diverted from Edmonton 
some of the local trade of these districts for which she had been formerly the nearest market and trading 
town. Elevators erected in the new railway towns offer the farmers along the line more convenient markets 
for their grain, while the presence of the local markets in turn encourage the establishment of business 
houses to supply the farmer's needs. Thus districts whose entire produce was formerly sold in Edmonton and 
the proceeds immediately expended here now market their grain and purchase their supplies at towns more 
easy of access. The extension of the Canadian Northern lines westward and northwestward are working the 
same transition in the districts through which they pass. The construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific will work 
a similar change in the districts it traverses both east and west of the city.

The retail trade thus lost however is being replaced partly by the increased settlement and trade of the 
country immediately tributary to the city, and for which Edmonton must remain the retail centre and still more 
by the wholesale trade of the larger district of which it was formerly the retail centre. Edmonton is still the 
trading centre but it is fast changing from the market town to the wholesale city. And great as was the retail 
trade which formerly centred here the increased settlement and development of the district is creating a 
wholesale trade which should be of greater aggregate benefit to the city than the retail trade which it is 

In the meantime however Edmonton is expanding with tremendous rapidity and the 
trade which formerly maintained a town of three thousand people must be many 
times multiplied that its wholesale equivalent will support of city of probably 
fifteen thousand people and provide for the growth of population certain to take 
place in Edmonton in the immediate future. To justify the increase of population 
which has taken place and to provide for the increase now taking place, Edmonton 
depends on the opening up and development of the country west and north of the 
city, the four hundred miles of agricultural country stretching from the city to 
the foot hills along the upper waters of the Peace. For this enormous area 
Edmonton must be the commercial headquarters. With this western country unopened 
and unproductive Edmonton's hope of -- as a trading centre would depend only on 
the fuller development of the districts already partially settled. With that 
country settled and productive the city will have the benefit of both the 
increase of trade in the older districts and of all the trade which will develop 
in this enormous region still practically unsettled and unproductive. That the 
trade originating in the districts already partially settled now supports a 
population of fifteen thousand is an indication of the extension of the city 
which will occur when the trade of this western undeveloped country will be 
added to the volume which passes through our portals.

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