Cardston, Alberta, incorporated as a town in 1901, population 3,585 (2016 census), 3,580 (2011 census). The town of Cardston is located 75 km southwest of Lethbridge. It was named for Charles Ora Card (1839─1906), a son-in-law of Brigham Young. Young was a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (see Mormon Church) in the United States.
Indigenous Peoples and Treaties
Cardston is located on the traditional territory of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy), Stoney-Nakoda and Tsuut’ina. It is covered by Treaty 7, signed in 1877. Today, several reserves created by Treaty 7 are located near Cardston. In particular, Kainai Nation’s primary reserve, Blood 148, abuts Cardston’s northern border. Piikani Nation is about 80 km northwest of the town. (See also Reserves in Alberta.)
Settlement and Development
In order to escape American anti-polygamy laws, Charles Ora Card led the first 10 Mormon families to Cardston from Utah in 1887. The settlers and their church were the focus of economic and agricultural activity. Church-based co-operatives started in 1888. They included, among other enterprises, a store, a sawmill, a cheese factory and a flour mill. In 1898, the church built the first irrigation works on the St. Mary’s River. In 1913, residents started construction of Canada’s first Mormon temple, finished in 1923.
Economy and Cultural Life
Today, Cardston is an important farming and ranching centre. It also relies on tourism due to its proximity to Waterton Lakes National Park and as the home of the Remington Carriage Museum and a number of provincial historic places. These historic places include Cobblestone Manor (1913-29), Courthouse Museum (1907) and Card Pioneer Home (1887).