In 1905 a rail line finally reached the area, but the Canadian Northern Railway had chosen to bypass Battleford, an event that eventually led to the creation of the adjacent community of North Battleford.
Battleford, Sask, incorporated as a town in 1904, population 4065 (2011c), 3685 (2006c). The Town of Battleford is located near the confluence of the North Saskatchewan and Battle rivers, 138 km northwest of Saskatoon. It was once among the most important of early settlements in western Canada. While little more than a small fur-trade post and surveyor work camp, the settlement was named capital of the vast North-West Territories in 1876. A large government complex including Government House and a nearby North-West Mounted Police post were then established, as well as a townsite. Its trade and government functions grew rapidly, but in 1883 the capital seat was officially relocated to Regina and the CPR main line, which had been projected for Battleford, went to southern Saskatchewan. During the North-West Rebellion (1885), Métis and Native problems further damaged settlement prospects for the region.
In 1905 a rail line finally reached the area, but the Canadian Northern Railway had chosen to bypass Battleford, an event that eventually led to the creation of the adjacent community of North Battleford. Battleford prospered as a government centre for land title registration, a judicial district and an Indian Affairs office, but never fulfilled its earlier expectations. The legacy of the days before it was stripped of its "capital" status has been preserved in Fort Battleford, a national historic site, Government House and other historic buildings. Today Battleford and North Battleford, with a combined population of 17 987 (1996c), form a service centre for the surrounding region, which depends largely on agriculture, oil and natural gas development, manufacturing and tourism.