Alberta and Saskatchewan at 100 years

Take a look at Alberta and Saskatchewan over the course of one hundred years to learn how they grew apart. 

Written by James Pitsula

Posted August 1, 2005

In 1901 Frederick Haultain, premier of the NorthWest Territories, proposed the formation of a single province comprising the area between Manitoba and British Columbia. The Canadian government countered with a bill to create two new provinces of approximately equal size and population. The two-province solution prevailed, and Alberta and Saskatchewan officially came into existence in September 1905.



On July 18, the Canadian government passes the Dominion Act, which creates the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, effective September 1. Edmonton and Regina are named as capital cities, respectively. 


The Saskatchewan Grain Growers’ Association is formed to represent the interests of Saskatchewan farmers and advocate for reform of the grain handling and marketing systems.


United Farmers of Alberta is founded to advocate for the interests and welfare of farmers. A cooperative, it would emerge as a powerful political force, forming the government between 1921 and 1935.


The cooperatively owned Saskatchewan Cooperative Elevator Company is founded by 2,565 farmer shareholders.


As a result of an influx of immigrants attracted by western homesteads, population in both provinces increases more than fivefold from 1901: Alberta to 374,000 from 73,000, Saskatchewan to 492,000 from 91,000.


Alberta prohibits the sale of alcohol; Saskatchewan goes dry the following year.


Women in both Alberta and Saskatchewan obtain the right to vote in municipal and provincial elections.


The Progressive Party is founded by Thomas Crerar with the support of prairie farm groups, to support free trade, direct democracy, and the cooperative movement. The following year, it sends sixty-four members to Parliament.


The stock market crashes, ushering in the Great Depression. A glut of wheat on the world market causes devastation for prairie farmers.


The Social Credit party, led by William Aberhart, defeats Richard Reid’s United Farmers of Alberta.


The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation sweeps into power in Saskatchewan, with Tommy Douglas as premier.


Driller Vern Hunter strikes oil near Leduc, Alberta, setting off the Alberta oil boom.


Saskatchewan becomes the first province to pass human rights legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, colour, or creed.


Saskatchewan introduces medicare to its citizens. Doctors opposing the plan go on strike, which is eventually resolved by a legislative amendment.


The federal Medical Care Act comes into effect, extending Saskatchewan’s publicly funded health-care system across Canada.


The Conservative Party, led by Peter Lougheed, wins the Alberta election, thus ending the long reign of the Social Credit party.


A rise in world oil prices sets off an economic boom in Alberta.


Grant Devine’s Conservative party defeats the NDP government and proceeds to privatize all the resource Crown corporations created by the former administration.


Disparate Duo

Born as twins in 1905, Alberta and Saskatchewan grew apart. Single-minded visionaries, hardening ideologies, and nature’s lottery helped turn the two provinces into a disparate duo.

Nine Who Made a Difference

These are the nine characters who made a difference in the growth and development of Alberta and Saskatchewan. 

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James M. Pitsula is a professor of history in the Department of History at the University of Regina.

This article originally appeared in the August-September 2005 issue of The Beaver.

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