Historical Photos of Rivers from Across Alberta Part 1

Here in landlocked Alberta we have no shortage of scenic waterways. Our unique geography, being located immediately east of the continental divide, allows our rivers to drain into four different bodies of water. Our northern rivers flow into the Arctic Ocean, whereas the majority of our southern rivers flow east into Hudson’s Bay. The only exception being the Milk River and its tributaries, which make their way southbound towards the Gulf of Mexico. Mount Snow Dome in Jasper National Park is considered a hydrological apex, where meltwater from its slopes flows to three separate oceans. Water makes its way to the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia River, the Arctic Ocean by the Athabasca River and eventually the Atlantic River, via Hudson Bay, by way of the North Saskatchewan River.

Lundbreck Falls on the Crowsnest River, near Lundbreck, Alberta, 1893

I wanted to showcase some our incredible waterways, so I created this collection of historical photos that feature a single photograph form a number of Alberta’s rivers. As I got into, I realized there were more river photographs in the archives than I originally thought, so I ended up building two posts instead. Stay tuned for Part Two, which will be coming to the website soon. After you enjoy this float down memory lane, why not head out to your nearest river and go for a paddle, a float, a swim, or just sit and absorb the stunning landscape.

In the valley of Belly River near the mountains, Alberta, 1874
Milk River Canal, head gate, Alberta, 1904
“City of Medicine Hat”, riverboat on South Saskatchewan River, Alberta, 1907
Oldman river, Alberta, 1884
Big bend, Vermilion River, Banff area, Alberta, 1930s
Kananaskis Falls on Bow River, Alberta, 1878-1879
Canyon on the Brazeau River, Alberta, 1912-1915
Rocking P Ranch cattle crossing the Livingstone River, near Nanton, Alberta, 1956
Two men in boat on Sturgeon River, St. Albert, Alberta, 1912
Surveying crew on raft on Wapiti River, Alberta, 1909
Battle river, near Hardisty, Alberta, 1908
Treaty party poling York boat up Slave River, Alberta, 1903-1906
Surveyor on cable crossing Cline River, Alberta, 1915
Surveyor gaugung Siffleur River, Alberta, 1915
Gold dredge on the Little Smoky River, Alberta, 1911-1913
Survey crew horses wading across Big Smoky River, [near Peace River area] Alberta, 1909
Ram River falls, Alberta, 1913-1914
Chinchaga River, Keg River Metis settlement, Alberta, 1939-1965

If you’re interested in more water-specific material, please check out my previous posts including Vintage Photographs of the Canoe from Across Alberta, Wild Jobs: Paddleboard Guide, and Wild Jobs: Raft Guide.

Bighorn Falls on Bighorn River, near Nordegg, Alberta, 1907

The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on the photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

About Tyler Dixon 169 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.