80 Fun & Interesting Facts about Alberta, Canada

Alberta is a unique place where the Rocky Mountains meet the vast prairies. Besides oil and pretty national parks, what else is this Western Canadian province famous for?

Find out with these 50+ fascinating and fun facts about Alberta, written by an Alberta native (hi!) In the first section you’ll find general facts, followed by some more random interesting facts, and finally some historical Alberta facts.

You can learn more about Alberta with these facts about Edmonton and facts about Calgary, the province’s two largest cities!

General Alberta Facts

  • Alberta is one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada.
  • It is considered both a Western Canada province (being the 2nd province in from the west coast) and a prairie province, although only about 14% of Alberta is true grassland (meanwhile, boreal forest makes up 58% of the province).  
  • At 661,848 km2 (255,541 mi2), Alberta is the 4th largest Canadian province, after Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia, or 6th largest if you include the territories.
  • If it were a country, Alberta would be the 40th largest in the world, between Myanmar and Afghanistan.
  • Like BC, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, Alberta borders the US on the 49th parallel and the territories above by the 60th parallel. It borders Saskatchewan on the 110th meridian, and BC on the 120th (northern half) and the continental divide (southern half).
A grassland in Alberta
True grasslands only cover 14% of this “prairie” province
  • Alberta is one of only two landlocked provinces of Canada (the other being Saskatchewan).
  • With a population of 4.46 million, Alberta is the 4th most populous province, after Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. Its total population is similar to that of Rome, Italy.
  • Alberta’s capital city is Edmonton (population 1.1 million), although Calgary has slightly more people (1.4 million). Around half of Albertans live in these two cities, and ¾ of them live in the Edmonton–Calgary Corridor.
  • 5% of Alberta’s population are first nations. They belong to nine ethnic groups: Beaver (Danezaa), Blackfoot (Niitsítapi), Chipewyan (Denésoliné), Plains Cree (Paskwāwiyiniwak), Sarcee (Tsuu T’ina), Plains Ojibwa (Nakawē), Slavey/Dene (Tha’), Stoney/Nakoda, and the Woodland Cree (Sakāwithiniwak).
Alberta flag on the left and wild rose on the right
The Alberta flag and wild rose, symbols of the province
  • The flag of Alberta show wheat fields, foothills, and mountains (the provincial shield of arms) on a blue background.
  • The wild rose is Alberta’s provincial flower and a common symbol, while the bighorn sheep is the official mammal of Alberta.
  • Alberta is known for oil, hockey, cowboy culture, and its beautiful prairie sunsets.
Exterior of the Alberta Legislature building in Edmonton
The Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, the provincial capital
  • Alberta’s name comes from Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848–1939), who was the wife of a Governor General of Canada. She was considered a rebel and feminist for her time.
  • Alberta’s most famous lake, Lake Louise (cover photo), was also named after her. Originally they planned to name the province Louise, but she chose Alberta after her father, Albert. She never actually visited Alberta.

Random Interesting Facts about Alberta

  • The phrase “trick or treating” is believed to have originated in Blackie, a rural community in Alberta.
  • Alberta has the world’s first UFO landing pad, in a small town called St. Paul.
UFO landing pad in St. Paul, Alberta
The town of St. Paul welcomes UFOs
  • Alberta has a record low temperature of -61.1°C (-78°F) and record high of 43.3°C (110°F). That’s a difference of over 100 degrees Celsius, or 188 degrees Fahrenheit!
  • Northern Alberta gets only 6 hours of daylight at the peak of winter, and 19 hours of daylight at the peak of summer.
  • Calgary, Medicine Hat, and other towns in southern Alberta are considered the sunniest in all of Canada. The area (along with the adjacent area in Saskatchewan) is called the “sun belt of Canada.”
  • Banff was the first national park in Canada (1885), created after Canadian Pacific Railways workers found a hot spring there. It remains the most visited one in the country today.
Banff Springs Hotel in Banff National Park in winter
The iconic Banff Springs Hotel
  • Jasper is larger than Banff and is the largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world that is easily accessible (the 1st is Wood Buffalo National Park, also in Alberta).
  • Mt. Columbia, Alberta’s highest peak (3747 m / 12,293 ft) is located in Jasper National Park. It is the source of the Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies. It includes Athabasca Glacier, the most visited glacier in glacier in North America.
  • The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) between Jasper and Banff National Parks has been called one of the world’s most scenic drives.
Waterton town in Waterton Lakes National Park viewed from above
Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta
  • Waterton Lakes National Park is combined with Glacier National Park in Montana, USA to form the Waterton–Glacier International Peace Park, the first of its kind in the world.
  • Elk Island National Park, which is just outside of Edmonton, has played a key role in the conservation of bison. A highway divides the park, with wood bison on one side, and plains bison on the other.
  • Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest national park in Canada and 2nd largest in the world, after Northeast Greenland National Park. Wood Buffalo is 44,807 km2 (17,300 mi2), which is larger than the countries Netherlands, Switzerland, or Taiwan.
Some bison crossing the road in winter
Plains bison in Elk Island National Park
  • Alberta has 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (more than any other province!) They are Rocky Mountain Parks, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Water-Glacier International Peace Park, and Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park.
  • Alberta also has nearly 500 provincial parks and wildland areas, but the current provincial government has plans to cut funding to over 100 of them. These include a collection of over 10 provincial parks called Kananaskis country, which has seen as many visitors as Banff National Park in the last few years.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump National Historic Site
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Southern Alberta
  • Lake Athabasca, which is shared by Alberta and Saskatchewan, is the 4th largest lake that is totally inside Canada (not counting the Great Lakes shared with the US).
  • Drumheller also has the “world’s largest dinosaur”, a T-Rex statue that is 4.5 times larger than a real T-rex.
Dinosaur skeleton in Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller
The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller
  • Alberta is famous for its many other large roadside attractions, sometimes called “Giants of the Prairies”. These include the world’s largest sausage, Ukrainian egg, pyrogy, cowboy boot, duck, dragonfly, and border markers.
  • The “Cowboy Trail” (Highway 22) runs through the heart of Alberta’s ranch land, parallel to the Rocky Mountains.
  • The highest point on the Trans-Canada Highway is Kicking Horse Pass (1627 m / 5338 ft), on the border between Alberta and BC.
Yellow trees with mountains in the background in Kananaskis Alberta
Larch trees near Highwood Pass, the highest in Canada
  • Highwood Pass in Kananaskis, Alberta is the highest paved pass in Canada (2206 m / 7238 ft).
  • The town of Lloydminster, Alberta is the only one in Canada to straddle two provinces. The whole town uses Alberta time.
  • Edmonton is home to the largest shopping mall in Canada, West Edmonton Mall. It used to be the largest in the world, but is now #23. See here for more facts about West Edmonton Mall
  • The Calgary Stampede is considered the largest annual event in Canada, attracting over 1 million visitors.
A bull rider being thrown off a bull at the Calgary Stampede
Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede
  • Although French is an official language of Canada, only 1.8% of Albertans are francophones.
  • Alberta has the 3rd highest GDP in Canada, 350 million CAD, after Ontario and Quebec.
  • Oil is the pillar of Alberta’s economy. The province provides 70% of Canada’s oil and natural gas.
  • Alberta has about the same number of cows as people, 4.5 million, which is over 40% of the total heads of cattle in all of Canada. Alberta beef is the pride of many locals.
Some kids climbing on oil equipment in Fort McMurray Alberta
Oil machinery in Fort McMurray, Alberta
  • Alberta is considered a very conservative province. The PC (Progressive Conservative) party ran the province from 1971 to 2015, the longest a single party has ever held office in a province in Canada.
  • This ended when Rachel Notley of the left-wing NDP ran the province from 2015 to 2019. Edmonton and Calgary also usually elect progressive mayors.
  • Ever since the 1930s, there has been a separatist movement in Alberta. Some locals feel that Alberta over-contributes to equalization payments to help other provinces in Canada, or that Alberta has a different, more conservative culture than other parts of Canada. Polls show that around 30% of Albertans support separating from Canada.
  • Restaurants that started in Alberta include Boston Pizza, Earls, Booster Juice, Famoso, Sawmill (Edmonton) and Edo Japan, Moxies, Smitty’s and Opa! of Greece (Calgary).
The city of Calgary and Bow River viewed from above
Downtown Calgary
  • Many other major companies have started in Alberta, such as The Brick, Westjet, Canada Pacific Railway, Mark’s, Sport Check, Safeway, Shaw, Telus, Suncor, Husky, Shell, and Petro-Canada.
  • Popular bands or musicians from Alberta include Joni Mitchell, K.D. Lang, Jann Arden, Feist, Kinnie Star, Tegan and Sarah, George Fox, SNFU, and Nickelback.
  • Joe Clark, prime minister of Canada from 1979–1980, was from Alberta. It was the youngest PM in Canadian history.
  • Other famous Albertans are Tommy Chong (from Cheech and Chong), Ted Cruz (yes, that US politician), actor Michael J. Fox, wrestler Bret Hart, and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Alberta History Facts

  • 570 million years ago, Alberta was covered by a huge tropical inland ocean.
  • Indigenous people have lived in Alberta since the last ice age, when most of the province was covered in ice, except for an ice-free corridor running north to south through the area.
Indigenous teepee at the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton
Indigenous teepee at the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton
  • Cypress Hills in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan was never covered by the glaciers, giving it unique flora and landscape today. They also contain the highest point (1,466 m / 4810 ft) between the Canadian Rockies and Labrador is far eastern Canada.
  • After the British arrived in Canada, from 1670 to 1870, the lower half of Alberta became a part of Rupert’s Land, owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
  • The northern part of Alberta was considered part of the arctic region (because that’s where its rivers drain), mainly used for fur trapping by the North West Company.
  • In 1803, a small part of southern Alberta that originally belonged to the French/Spanish state of Louisiana was sold to the US, AKA the Louisiana Purchase.
  • In 1821, the two companies merged. In 1871, when the Northwest Territories was formed, the area of today’s Alberta was a part of it. This area was later separated into the District of Athabasca in the north and District of Alberta in the south.  
The original building of Fort Edmonton
Fort Edmonton
  • Fort Edmonton was built as a trading post in 1795, while Fort Calgary followed in 1875 as part of a police effort to curb rum and whisky running in the area.
  • A series of treaties between the indigenous people and government gave the former hunting rights to their land. These included Treaty 6 (1876, includes modern-day Edmonton), Treaty 7 (1877, includes modern-day Calgary and southern Alberta), and Treaty 8 (1899, Northern Alberta). These treaties are still recognized today.
  • In 1885, Banff National Park was created, the first in Canada.
  • The Calgary to Edmonton railway began operating in 1891.
  • In 1903, Frank Slide killed 70 people in southern Alberta, when 110 million tonnes of rock slid down on the town of Frank. 9 years later, an explosion in a mine nearby killed 189, the worst mine disaster in Canadian history.
Frank Slide, Alberta
Remains of Frank Slide, which covered a small town in southern Alberta
  • In 1904, an idea was proposed for the creation of the Province of Buffalo, which would have encompassed today’s Alberta and Saskatchewan.
  • In 1905, Alberta became a province. Essentially, the District of Alberta was enlarged to today’s borders.
  • In the 1940s, the Edmonton airport was the busiest in Canada, mainly due to construction of the Alaska Highway to the north.
  • In 1947, a major oil deposit was discovered in Leduc, just outside of Edmonton. This triggered a boom, and would go on to transform the Alberta economy. Before that, only smaller deposits had been found in southern Alberta around Calgary, which is why most oil companies are still based there.
Tar sands in Fort McMurray viewed from above
Tar sands in Fort McMurray
  • In 1967, the Great Canadian Oil Sands project began in Fort McMurray, where the largest known bitumen reserve in the world had been discovered. As a result, Alberta would grow to become the 3rd largest oil producer in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
  • In the 1980s, the Edmonton Oilers hockey team had a winning streak, winning 5 seasons between 1983 and 1990, while Alberta’s other NHL team, the Calgary Flames, won once in that tim, too.
  • In 1987, a massive tornado swept through part of Edmonton and neighboring Strathcona county, killing 27.
  • In 1988, Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics, the first and only time Alberta has hosted the event.
Burned trees in Waterton Lakes National Park
Evidence of fire in Waterton Lakes National Park
  • In summer of 2013, southern Alberta experienced catastrophic river floods, causing major damage in Calgary, Medicine Hat, and several other towns, displacing 100,000 people.
  • In 2015, the NDP won the provincial election, ending 44 years of Conservative rule, the longest in Canadian history.
  • In summer of 2016, a wildfire ripped through the northern oil town Fort McMurray. It was the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
  • In 2017, the Kenow Fire destroyed large parts of Waterton Lakes National Park
  • Alberta currently has plans to build a high speed rail from Calgary to Edmonton, called Prairie Link.