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Visiting Airdrie, Alberta: Canada's Highest City, A Place of Dynamism, Remembering the Past

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Flag of Alberta

Aerial view of the city of Airdrie, Alberta, Canada

Aerial view of the city of Airdrie, Alberta, Canada

Airdrie Airport is located about 20km NNE of Calgary Airport in Alberta, Canada

Airdrie Airport is located about 20km NNE of Calgary Airport in Alberta, Canada

Nose Creek in the past; Nose Creek in the present

Airdrie (1) bears the moniker of being Alberta's — indeed, Canada's — highest city.

The relative flat land in the photos (supplied above and below) should not deceive the observer: the proximity of the Rockies has much to do with its high elevation: 1080 metres / 3553.15 feet.

Historically, the settlement called Airdrie by 1889 emerged as a railroad village, north of Calgary. Named as such by William McKenzie, a engineer with the Calgary and Edmonton Railway, it was incorporated in 1909. The original settlement site is said to have been attractive to the railway board because of the quality of the water supply at Nose Creek, which tends to be ice free year round.

Calgary is only 33.1 kilometres away — indeed, Airdrie lies only 20.8 kilometers north along the three lane divided highway, known as Queen Elizabeth II Highway (or "Highway 2"), from Calgary International Airport. Airdrie thus benefits from many of the advantages derived from the proximity of Calgary, but without a big city feel.

In recent decades, Airdrie has grown rapidly (1), and road communications with that city are excellent, with a three lane divided highway linking Airdrie with . A city in its own right with a population of 20,000, in 2009 Airdrie commemorated its original inforporation's centennial. I have in my possession a number of items from that year, which bear inscriptions including the following:

"In a landscape shaped by Chinook winds and Nose Creek, a city celebrates 100 years of history built on a pioneer spirit , community pride and opportunities for the future." (3)

The Nose Creek Valley Museum at Airdrie has strengths in local history, flora and fauna. Among its wealth of artifacts (20,000 of them) are included arrowhead exhibits and displays of old, mechanical items previously common in the area. The address of Nose Creek Museum is: 1701 Main Street S.W., Airdrie, AB, T4B 1C5 (4) Admission to the Museum is by donation.

Close to the exterior of the Museum's building is a typical rail caboose — formerly compulsory in Canada on freight trains until the 1980s — which serves as a tribute to the role of the railways in the early history of Airdrie, when Nose Creek's ready water supply became a principal catalyst for the early, rail-related settlement's establishment.

January 5, 2021

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(1) See also: (See also this resource for old photographs of Airdrie).

(2) Its land is generally priced at 25% less than in Calgary.

(3) Postcard, issued by the City of Airdrie.

(4) Further contact details for the Nose Creek Valley Museum: Tel.: 403-948-6685 ; Web: ; email:

Also worth seeing

From Airdrie, day trips to favourite Rockies destinations such as Banff (distance: 149.1 kilometres) and Lake Louise (distance: 202.8 kilometres) are feasible.

The many visitor attractions in Calgary (distance: 33.1 kilometres) include: the Calgary Tower, Lougheed House National Historic Site and Museum, the annual Stampede, the Glenbow Museum, sporting events at the Scotiabank Saddledome, Glenmore Reservoir and Prince's Island Park in the Bow River, which are just a few of the many visitor attractions in this fast-growing city.


How to get there: Air Canada and WestJet fly to Calgary International Airport (distance from Airdrie: 20.8 kilometres), with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. Airline information at Calgary International Airport may be accessed at: . See also: . Both Tourism Calgary and Travel Alberta have booths at the Airport. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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