Sturgeon County Roots
Named for the Sturgeon River ...
According to early historical data, the Municipal District of Sturgeon No. 548 was formed January 1, 1918 with the office located on a local farm of the secretary-treasurer Gabriel Morris at NW-4-56-24-4. Council was referred to as Messrs and consisted of the following members: G. A. Wilkinson (Reeve), J. Gowin, H. Bell, A. Lamoureux, A. Gagnon and R. A. Hewitt. Councillor remunerations were set at $2.00 per day.
However, the area was settled long before as it is situated on Treaty 6 territory, the traditional lands of the Michel Band, named after Chief Michel Callihoo. Today, the Calahoo Hamlet is named after the Michel Calihoo Reserve. After signing the Treaty, the Michel band was assigned a reserve, approximately 25,000 acres in size and located on the Sturgeon River, in the west side of the County, now known as Villeneuve. Alexander First Nation’s main reserve borders Sturgeon County’s and Lac Ste. Anne.
Historical data shows that the Sturgeon region was also a part of a large ethnic block settlement of French-speaking Albertans, which settled here in the late 1800’s, specifically including the communities of St. Albert, Morinville, Legal, Rivière Qui Barre, Villeneuve, Pickardville, and around Lac Ste. Anne and Lac La Nonne.
Following multiple changes and formations of districts in the area over the years, the Districts of Sturgeon No. 90 and Morinville No. 91 were united and named as M.D. of Sturgeon River No. 90 in 1954 when larger municipal units were introduced by the Provincial Government.
In January 1961, the M.D. of Sturgeon River No. 90. changed the status and became the County of Sturgeon No. 15, although it was subsequently disorganized, it re-established as a County again in 1997.
Interesting Historical Facts
First School: Sturgeon County is known to have Alberta’s first school established in what is now near the Hamlet of Lamoureux which is also home to the historical church, Notre Dame de Lourdes Roman Catholic Church.
First Wheat: The first wheat grown for re-sale purposes was also produced in Sturgeon County, by Mr. Bill Cust. Sturgeon County was also home to the first grist or flour mill, which was brought over from France by the Roman Catholic Mission and located in St. Albert, then moved down toward the Sturgeon River, south of Bon Accord. The mill plant ground the wheat into flour and other products during the winter months, for farmers and population in the district.
During the summer, this same power mill sawed lumber from logs gathered by the settlers during the winter-time.
Financial Statement: Recorded in 1900 as follows: Total Receipts - $135.75; Total Expenditures - $151.30; Over expenditures - $15.55; Audit Fee - $3.00.
Wages: In 1919, Wages for labour on road construction were .70 cents per hour for a man and his team of horses, $1.05 per hour for a man with four horses and .60 cents per hour for a foreman.
Operations: Records in the year 1900 noted one mile of road being cleared, 16 culverts being built, nine culverts being repaired, 440 yards of corduroy completed and 28 sloughs and holes filled.
Property Taxes: Taxes ranged from $2.50 to $4.00 per quarter and property owners had the option of paying half the amount in cash and half in road work.
Council Meetings: Council meetings were held in farm homes which in most cases belonged to the secretary-treasurer's and his wife would provide meals to Councillors attending.
Who are we today?
We are a vibrant, growing community of 20,495 residing in a land area of 2,090 km including farmland, multi-lot subdivisions, unique local businesses, and industry. Home to many Sturgeon Proud 100 year Farm families.
Sturgeon County is made up of 10 hamlets. Five towns within the area with their own governance and authority - Bon Accord, Gibbons, Legal, Morinville, and Redwater.
Originally, Sturgeon County was primarily a farming community and today has numerous large industrial operations located in the Alberta's Industrial Heartland. The largest industrial operation being the North West Redwater Partnership (Sturgeon Refinery) which is estimated to bring significant economic value to the region and Alberta.
Join us this year for events and challenges; stay tuned as we share historical facts and stories.
Watch for monthly features capturing significant icons, recollections and more throughout the year.
There is an abundance of interesting history of our diverse community to share!
…and the rest is history!
Credit: Story of Rural Municipal Government in Alberta, 1909-1969; Rural Municipal Government in Alberta 1983-1998