Pincher Creek | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek, Alberta, incorporated as a town in 1906, population 3,642 (2016 census), 3,685 (2011 census). The town of Pincher Creek is located in southwestern Alberta at the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. It was established in 1878 as a North-West Mounted Police post and farm on Pincher Creek. The creek received its name after a pair of pincers (a tool used to trim horses’ hooves) was found along its banks.

Indigenous Peoples and Treaties

Pincher Creek 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 Pincher Creek. The Piikani Nation, for example, is less than 30 km to the east, and the Kainai Nation is just east of that. (See also Reserves in Alberta.)

Settlement and Development

In the 1880s, several North-West Mounted Police retired to Pincher Creak to ranch. In the heart of the large ranch leases, the community served as the commercial centre for the Walrond, Roodee and Alberta ranches. In 1882, the townsite was laid out by Charles Kettles, a Department of Indian Affairs employee and later a rancher in the area. The first store was constructed in 1883 and the town itself incorporated in 1906. T. Lebel and Company, based in Pincher Creek, became the largest merchandising business in southern Alberta. Timothee Lebel’s mansion (1910) is one of the most noteworthy buildings in town. It is currently home to the Allied Arts Council. In the early 1900s wheat farming and in the 1940s natural gas processing became critical additions to the economic base.


Today, agriculture and natural gas production remain important to Pincher Creek’s economy. In addition, the town is known as the “Wind Capital of Canada.” A growing number of wind energy projects are located in the Pincher Creek area. The wind farms, the town’s proximity to Waterton Lakes National Park and its cultural and historical sites are all being promoted as tourist attractions.