The area of Camrose was traditionally inhabited by the nomadic Indigenous Cree, with European settlers arriving around 1900. The settlers came primarily from Scandinavian countries and the United States. The first commercial building was a general store on the corner of 50th Ave & 50th Street by Duncan Sampson. Initially the hamlet was known as Stoney Creek, then Sparling, and by 1905 the community was the Village of Camrose. The speculation is this name came from a town in Wales. Other notable early inhabitants was Pe-o-kis, a Cree man, and Ole Bakken.

Francois Adam, a businessman from Belgium was involved in the founding of the first school, hospital, and several other businesses. This entrepreneur is known as “The Father of Camrose”.

In 1906 the first newspaper, The Camrose Mail began and was soon replaced by the Camrose Canadian, which continued until 2018. In 1907 the town built a town administration, police and fire station, telephone exchange and schoolhouse.

From 1905 to 1914, rail construction brought 3 rail lines to Camrose, the CN, CP and Grand Trunk. This aided in strong and quick commercial and residential growth. By 1914, twelve passenger trains came through Camrose came through daily.

The Camrose Canadian Club, a men’s club was incorporated through an act of the Alberta Legislature in 1908. In 1910, the Camrose Feed Mill was built by Georgeson and Company Ltd, a wholesale grocery firm from Calgary. Both of these buildings have been recognized as an Alberta Provincial Historic Resource.

1908 also saw the building of the David Theatre by Camille David, who later sold it, and it became the Bailey Theatre. Over the years it would see the Toronto Glee Club, plays, musicals and dances. Today the theatre remains a ruminate of history with several old vaudeville posters on display and is a Municipal Historic Resource.

In 1912, the Camrose Lutheran College (now Augustana University campus/ U of A) was established with the aid of Norwegian local settlers. The primary building of Old Main (later Founder’s Hall) is an Alberta Registered Historic Resource. Dr. Chester Ronning, Canada’s first ambassador to China, was a CLC student and later the college principle. Dr. Ronning received the Order of Canada in 1972.

Brothers, Walter and Edgar Byers arrived from Nova Scotia and started Byers Flour Mills, an developed a new hot cereal using locally grown wheat, rye and flax, named Sunny Boy Cereal. The brand has since been relocated to production in Edmonton.

During WWII, the Camrose Normal School, previously used as a school, was reopened for army drainage.

The Camrose Railway Museum is an excellent community museum showing life from its beginnings in 1911, as a Third-Class Station setup by the CN Railway. Passenger service continued until the 1980’s.

Camrose was incorporated as a City on January 1, 1955.

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