Drumheller | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Drumheller, Alberta, incorporated as a town in 1998, population 7,909 (2021 census), 7,982 (2016 census). The town of Drumheller is located on the Red Deer River in southern Alberta, 138 km northeast of Calgary. The Red Deer River valley is internationally known its abundance of fossils, particularly of dinosaurs.

Settlement and Development

Shortly after ranchers first settled there (1897), the townsite was bought by Colonel Samuel Drumheller (1910). In 1911, he started coal mining operations at sites around the townsite, and the first post office was named after him. The railway arrived in 1912, and in quick succession Drumheller became a village (1913) and a town (1916).

Drumheller was incorporated as a city in 1930. It boomed until after the Second World War when coal lost its importance as an energy source. In 1998, Drumheller amalgamated with the Municipal District of Badlands and reverted back to town status.


Today, coal mining has all but disappeared, replaced by natural gas and oil exploration and development. The town is the service centre for the primarily agriculturally based local economy. A federal penitentiary and a regional health complex also provide employment. Tourists are attracted to Drumheller by the striking landscape of the badlands along the Red Deer River, as well as the Fossil World Dinosaur Discovery Centre, the Homestead Antique Museum and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.

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