Bow Island

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Bow Island
Town of Bow Island
Pinto MacBean
Pinto MacBean
Bow Island is located in Alberta
Bow Island
Bow Island
Location of Bow Island in Alberta
Coordinates: 49°52′03″N 111°22′46″W / 49.86750°N 111.37944°W / 49.86750; -111.37944
Country Canada
Province Alberta
RegionSouthern Alberta
Census division1
Municipal districtCounty of Forty Mile No. 8
 • VillageJune 14, 1910
 • TownFebruary 1, 1912
 • MayorGordon Reynolds
 • Governing bodyBow Island Town Council
 • Land5.81 km2 (2.24 sq mi)
Elevation799 m (2,621 ft)
 • Total1,983
 • Density341.6/km2 (885/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-7 (MST)
Postal code span
Area code(s)1+403
HighwaysHighway 3
WaterwaySouth Saskatchewan River
WebsiteOfficial website

Bow Island (/b/) is a town in Alberta, Canada. It is located on Highway 3 in southern Alberta, approximately 100 km (62 mi) from the United States border and 320 km (200 mi) southeast of Calgary.


The community of Bow Island received its first post-colonial families in 1900. In February 1910,[5] the Village of Bow Island was formed, and by March 1912 the village was declared the Town of Bow Island.

The naming of Bow Island brings many stories to the forefront, but the most prominent one is that the communities of Grassy Lake, approximately 25 km (16 mi) to the west, and Bow Island had their respective names mixed up. An island named "Bow Island" is located north of Grassy Lake near the confluence of the Bow River and the Oldman River, while a low depressional area named "Grassy Lake" is located south of Bow Island.

Bow Island was one of the first towns in Alberta to have natural gas wells and operated them until the franchise was sold to a private company.

In the early 1950s, irrigation was extended to the Bow Island area, and the town doubled in population. Bow Island is surrounded by 110,000 acres (445 km²) of highly productive lands. Some of the most modern irrigation systems in the world are located in the area; the first pivot and linear sprinkler systems in Canada were erected in the Bow Island area. A completely automated distribution system was installed in 1982 by the St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID), and it serves an area of 5,000 acres (20 km²). The system is known as the Lateral 12 System and has been toured by groups from around the world.


Bow Island is located between the cities of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Its nearest community is the Hamlet of Burdett.


The population of the Town of Bow Island according to its 2017 municipal census is 2,043,[6] a change of 9.4% from its 2007 municipal census population of 1,868.[7]

In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Bow Island recorded a population of 1,983 living in 636 of its 682 total private dwellings, a -2.1% change from its 2011 population of 2,025. With a land area of 5.81 km2 (2.24 sq mi), it had a population density of 341.3/km2 (884.0/sq mi) in 2016.[3]

In the 2011 Census, the Town of Bow Island had a population of 2,025 living in 641 of its 670 total dwellings, a 13.1% change from its 2006 population of 1,790. With a land area of 5.92 km2 (2.29 sq mi), it had a population density of 342.1/km2 (885.9/sq mi) in 2011.[8]


Bow Island is well known for its dry edible bean industry. A 5.5 metre (18 ft) tall statue of the mascot "Pinto MacBean" is located adjacent to Highway No. 3 and greets everyone coming into town. Bow Island is also the largest spearmint-producing region in Canada, with 4 farms in the surrounding area producing 25% of the North American demand for Scotch spearmint essential oil, used in flavouring candy, gum, mints and toothpaste.[9]

Less notable but equally important is the operation of Spitz International, originally Alberta Sunflower Seeds, which produces Spitz brand sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. These products are shipped worldwide. The majority of the sunflower seeds are produced locally, but the pumpkin seeds are produced in China. The factory by the town is going to be closed in the year 2018 after the 5-year contract with Pepsi has expired.

Arts and culture[edit]

"Blues at the Bow Live", located in the historic Bow Theatre, is an internationally renowned live blues venue featuring Grammy and Juno Award winning blues artists. This nonprofit, solely volunteer operated Canadian blues society was formed in 1993. The society's first show to be held in the Bow Theatre took place on December 17, 1994. They have been hosting sold out performances since inception. Blues at the Bow draws patrons from every corner of the province of Alberta and beyond.[10]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Location and History Profile: Town of Bow Island" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. October 7, 2016. p. 85. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  2. ^ Town of Bow Island. "Town Council". Archived from the original on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
  3. ^ a b c "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2016 and 2011 censuses – 100% data (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  4. ^ "Alberta Private Sewage Systems 2009 Standard of Practice Handbook: Appendix A.3 Alberta Design Data (A.3.A. Alberta Climate Design Data by Town)" (PDF) (PDF). Safety Codes Council. January 2012. pp. 212–215 (PDF pages 226–229). Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  5. ^ Bent, S.A. (1962). Bow Island, 1912-1962, 50th Anniversary: The Story of the Beginning. Bow River: Bow Island Jubilee Committee. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
  6. ^ "2017 Municipal Affairs Population List" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. ISBN 978-1-4601-3652-2. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  7. ^ "2011 Municipal Affairs Population List" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. October 5, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7785-9738-4. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  8. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. February 8, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  9. ^ Bow Island Mint Flavours North American Market, Country 95.5FM, September 18 2014
  10. ^ Blues at the Bow Live

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°52′N 111°22′W / 49.867°N 111.367°W / 49.867; -111.367 (Bow Island)