Eckville | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Eckville, Alta, incorporated as a village in 1921 and as a town in 1966, population 1125 (2011c), 951 (2006c).

Eckville, Alta, incorporated as a village in 1921 and as a town in 1966, population 1125 (2011c), 951 (2006c). The Town of Eckville is located approximately 40 km northwest of Red Deer. The name of the town was chosen by a contest. Hattie Mitzner won with her entry of the name Eckville, chosen in honour of an early settler, Arthur Eckford.

Many of the earliest settlers in the Eckville area were Estonians. In the late 19th century, for ideological and nationalist reasons, many Estonians opposed their country's incorporation in the Russian Empire. A number of Estonians were attracted to Canada by the promise of greater political freedom and the economic incentive of homestead lands. Henry Kingseps was a key figure in this immigration, leading a group of settlers to the Sylvan Lake area in 1899. In 1903 he moved to a new homestead near what would become the town of Eckville, and gradually a new Estonian settlement developed as settlers arrived and others moved from the Sylvan Lake community. The post office opened in 1905.

Many of the settlers were politically active and supported the United Farmers of Alberta. The area also developed a number of co-operative ventures, including a cattle-selling co-operative and a co-operative savings and loan bank. In the early homestead period self-sufficiency was the aim of most farming, as this part of Alberta was remote from commercial markets. Between 1910 and 1914, 2 railways were built through the area which allowed for economic diversification, and the creation of townsites like Eckville.

Following WWI Eckville emerged as a commercial and service centre for the surrounding farm population, a role it continues to provide today. Other significant local employers include oil and gas companies and a lumber and sawmill operation.