Town of Fort Macleod
Population: 2967 (2016)
Few communities can meaningfully say that history guides their future. Fort Macleod is one.
Established as an outpost of the North West Mounted Police in 1874, Fort Macleod is animated by its law enforcement origins and inter-relationship with surrounding First Nations communities. This last frontier in the West tells a story that has become central to a dynamic tourism industry: the Blackfoot Nation’s culture and heritage at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump; North West Mounted Police (NWMP) history at The Fort Museum of the NWMP, and the 1884 NWMP Barracks Provincial Historic Site. Historic Mainstreet includes The Empress Theatre - the oldest continuously operating theatre in western Canada and a place where performers' graffiti dating back to 1913 still marks the dressing room walls. The downtown core attracts movie productions, recently including Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Passchendale (2007).
Fort Macleod is working to leverage its history into the future with its 2006 provincial government selection as the future home of a $300 million, 100 employee, 1200 student Alberta Safety and Peace Officer Training Centre. The project is capital funded by the province and will begin construction in 2012. This is a long-awaited and significant opportunity for the Town and for the surrounding region.
Fort Macleod’s situation along the Oldman River, within view of the Porcupine Hills, prairie landscape, and the Rocky Mountains, combines small town living with easy access to urban and recreation amenities in Lethbridge (30 minutes) the mountains (40 minutes), and Calgary (90 minutes).
Primary industries in Fort Macleod are business and community service, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, transportation, and construction. Longer term prospects for growth centre around Fort Macleod’s location at the intersection of the north/south (Highway 2) and east/west (Highway 3) trade corridors and proximity to both Calgary and Lethbridge. Modest light industrial growth is envisioned. Major wind farm developments around the town have generated new opportunities for the local economy.
- Singer Joni Mitchell was born in Fort Macleod in 1943 while her family was stationed at the wartime airbase.
- The Macleod Gazette, Alberta's oldest operating newspaper, and one of few remaining newspapers published and edited by its resident owners is a repeat winner of award as Canada's best community weekly.