The electoral district has existed since 1971, it was created from Strathcona Centre. The boundaries have changed repeatedly.
The 2010 boundary redistribution made some changes to the boundaries. The northwestern corner of the riding had some small alterations with Edmonton-Riverview. The parcel of land that comprised the east portion of the riding to give it its distinctive ell shape was expanded from Whyte Avenue south to 63 Avenue in land that was part of Edmonton-Mill Creek the eastern border was expanded out to run on the Mill Creek Ravine with Edmonton-Gold Bar.
In the 2015 provincial election, it was the only riding in the province that did not have a Wildrose Party candidate.
Legal description from the Statutes of Alberta 2003, Electoral Divisions Act.
Starting at the intersection of the northerly extension of 111 Street with the right bank of the North Saskatchewan River; then 1. generally northeast along the right bank of the North Saskatchewan River to Connors Road; 2. generally southeast along Connors Road to 90 Avenue; 3. east along 90 Avenue to 75 Street; 4. south along 75 Street to Whyte Avenue (82 Avenue); 5. west along Whyte Avenue (82 Avenue) to Gateway Boulevard; 6. south along Gateway Boulevard to Whitemud Drive; 7. west along Whitemud Drive to the centre line of 111 Street; 8. north along the centre line of 111 Street to 61 Avenue; 9. east along 61 Avenue to 109 Street; 10. north along 109 Street to University Avenue; 11. northwest along University Avenue to 112 Street; 12. north along 112 Street to 87 Avenue; 13. east along 87 Avenue to 111 Street; 14. north along 111 Street and its northerly extension to the starting point.
The electoral district was created from the constituency of Strathcona-Centre and was first contested in 1971. Changing from a long history of electing Social Credit MLAs in the area, the constituency's voters elected Conservative Julian Koziak from the Conservative landslide of 1971 to a local NDP breakthrough in 1986. Since 1986, the constituency has been one of the more left-leaning ridings in Edmonton, having been held by either the NDP (1986–1993, 1997–present) or the Liberals (1993–1997) without interruption.
The election of 1971 saw a hotly contested three-way race as incumbent Social Credit MLA J. Donovan Ross ran for his sixth term in office. He had served as MLA for the predecessor district Strathcona Centre starting in 1959 and previously as an MLA for the multi-member Edmonton constituency starting in 1952. He was defeated by Progressive Conservative candidate Julian Koziak who won just under half the votes in the constituency. Partly on the strength of a clean sweep of Edmonton, the Tories pushed out Social Credit to win government for the first time. NDP candidate Timothy Christian polled a strong vote, carrying on the strong showing of the NDP that had previously been shown in that part of Edmonton since the formation of the Alberta NDP in 1962.
Koziak ran for his second term in 1975 and faced a hotly contested race against future NDP MLA Gordon Wright. Koziak was reelected after increasing his share of the vote to 54%, and was appointed to the provincial cabinet by Peter Lougheed in 1975. Koziak and Wright would face each other four more times. Although this was during the height of the Lougheed government's popularity, Wright managed to narrow the margin each time.
The 1986 election, which saw the NDP win a record number of seats (16) in the province, established the constituency as a stronghold for the party. On his sixth attempt for the seat, Wright won in resounding fashion, defeating Koziak by almost 17 points. He won his second term in 1989 with a reduced majority and died a year later on October 18, 1990, leaving the seat vacant. A by-election was held in December 1990 and returned NDP candidate Barrie Chivers with a large majority.
Chivers ran for a second term in office in the 1993 election. He was defeated by Liberal candidate Al Zariwny, who won the riding with just under 40% of the vote. The Liberals swept Edmonton that year, due in part to a massive surge under its leader Laurence Decore, a former Edmonton mayor.
Zariwny did not stand for a second term in office in 1997 and the riding returned NDP candidate Raj Pannu by 58 votes over Liberal candidate Mary McDonald. That race was split almost three ways, with Pannu winning with just 31% of the vote. The third-placing candidate, Progressive Conservative John Logan, finished just 176 votes behind Pannu.
The NDP chose Pannu to be leader of the party in 2000. He ran for a second term a year later in 2001 under the slogan Raj Against the Machine. He was re-elected with a large majority, winning over half the vote. Pannu ceded the leadership of the NDP to Brian Mason in 2004. He ran for his second term in office and won the highest vote count in Edmonton-Strathcona history, with over 60%. Pannu retired from public life at dissolution of the Legislature in 2008.
The current MLA is Rachel Notley who was elected in the 2008 election. She was re-elected in the 2012 provincial election with the highest share of the vote of any MLA in Alberta, and subsequently became the Premier of Alberta following the results of the 2015 provincial election after succeeding Brian Mason as the leader of the NDP.
On November 19, 2004, a Student Vote was conducted at participating Alberta schools to parallel the 2004 Alberta general election results. The vote was designed to educate students and simulate the electoral process for persons who have not yet reached the legal majority. The vote was conducted in 80 of the 83 provincial electoral districts with students voting for actual election candidates. Schools with a large student body that reside in another electoral district had the option to vote for candidates outside of the electoral district then where they were physically located.