Fort Macleod

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For Fort McLeod, see McLeod Lake, British Columbia.
Fort Macleod
Macleod (1884–1913)
Town of Fort Macleod
The NWMP fort in Fort Macleod, which is now a museum[1]
The NWMP fort in Fort Macleod, which is now a museum[1]
Fort Macleod is located in Alberta
Fort Macleod
Fort Macleod
Location of Fort Macleod in Alberta
Coordinates: 49°43′32″N 113°23′51″W / 49.72556°N 113.39750°W / 49.72556; -113.39750
Country  Canada
Province  Alberta
Region Southern Alberta
Census division 3
Municipal district Municipal District of Willow Creek No. 26
Settled 1884
Incorporated (town)[2] December 31, 1892
Name change[2] March 29, 1912
 • Mayor Rene Gendre
 • Governing body Fort Macleod Town Council
 • Manager Susan Keenan
 • MP John Barlow (Macleod)
 • MLA Pat Stier (Livingstone-Macleod)
Area (2011)[4]
 • Total 23.34 km2 (9.01 sq mi)
Elevation[5] 945 m (3,100 ft)
Population (2011)[4]
 • Total 3,117
 • Density 133.5/km2 (346/sq mi)
Time zone MST (UTC−7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC−6)
Postal code span T0L
Area code(s) +1-403
Website Official website
The American Hotel
Fort Macleod & District Community Hall

Fort Macleod, originally named Macleod, is a town in the southwest corner of the province of Alberta, Canada. It was founded as a North-West Mounted Police barracks, and is named in honour of the North-West Mounted Police Colonel James Macleod. It was known as the Town of Macleod between 1892 and 1912.[2]


The fort was built as a 70 by 70 meters square (233 by 233 ft) on October 18, 1874. The east side held the men's quarters and the west side held those of the Mounties. Buildings such as hospitals, stores, and guardrooms were in the south end. Stables and the blacksmith's shop were in the north end.

The town grew on the location of the Fort Macleod North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) Barracks, the second headquarters of the NWMP after Fort Livingstone was abandoned in 1876.[6] Fort Macleod was originally established in 1874 on an peninsula along the Oldman River, then moved in 1884 to the present town location.[7] The Museum of the North-West Mounted Police is located in Fort Macleod.[1]

Once agricultural settlement and the railway came to the region, Macleod boomed. The town became a CPR divisional point and frontier wood construction began to be replaced by brick and sandstone. In 1906 a fire devastated the downtown and destroyed most of the wooden buildings. From 1906 to 1912 Macleod had its greatest period of building, as more new brick and stone building replaced the destroyed wooden ones. Then in 1912 the CPR moved the divisional point and 200 jobs to Lethbridge, devastating the local economy. Fort Macleod ceased to grow, and in 1924 was forced to declare bankruptcy. Until the 1970s, the town's economy stagnated and the buildings from the turn-of-the-century remained untouched.[8]

In 1978 Alberta Culture started to inventory the downtown buildings, and in 1982 the downtown became Alberta's first "Provincial Historic Area". As well, Heritage Canada started a Main Street Restoration Project in 1982, aiming to preserve the sandstone and brick buildings, some dating back to 1878.[8][9]

UFO incident[edit]

On August 27, 1956, while an RCAF squadron leader and a Flight Lieutenant were attempting to set a speed record in an F-86 and flying over Fort Macleod, a stationary object in the sky was observed. It was brighter than the sunlight and distinctly disk-shaped. A photograph was taken of the object. Possible explanations that the object was a cloud, a sun dog, or a reflection have been ruled out because it was found to be a definite light source as it was equally bright on the side facing the sun as of its other side. Some scientists have explained the sighting as ball lightning, but others say this is unlikely due to its shape and size.[10]


The town is located in the Municipal District of Willow Creek No. 26, at the intersection of Highway 2 and Highway 3, on the Oldman River. It lies west of the larger community of Lethbridge, near the reserves of the Peigan and Kainai First Nations. It is also located close to the Waterton Lakes National Park.

The town is located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) north of the McBride Lake Wind Farm, one of the largest wind farms in Alberta. The wind farm has a capacity of 75 megawatts of electricity.


Fort Macleod experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb).


In the 2011 Census, the Town of Fort Macleod had a population of 3,117 living in 1,244 of its 1,350 total dwellings, a 1.5% change from its 2006 population of 3,072. With a land area of 23.34 km2 (9.01 sq mi), it had a population density of 133.5/km2 (345.9/sq mi) in 2011.[4]

In 2006, Fort Macleod had a population of 3,072 living in 1,278 dwellings, a 2.7% increase from 2001. The town has a land area of 23.34 km2 (9.01 sq mi) and a population density of 131.6/km2 (341/sq mi).[12]

In 2001, Fort Macleod had a population of 2,990, a 1.5% decrease from 1996.[13]


The town is home to the Fort Macleod Mustangs hockey team of the Ranchland Hockey League.[14]


Fort Macleod's local weekly newspaper is the Fort Macleod Gazette.[15]

Historical newspapers
  • Macleod Advertiser — published May 25, 1909, through September 11, 1913[16]
  • Macleod Chronicle — in print approximately July 1908 through June 1909
  • Macleod Gazette — early issues were entitled The Macleod Gazette and Alberta Stock Record
  • Macleod News — ran from November 2, 1916, through to June 1919
  • Macleod Spectator — lasted from April 30, 1912, until October 26, 1916

A selection of historical newspapers from Fort Macleod have been digitized from microfilm and are available in the Southern Alberta Newspaper Collection from the University of Lethbridge Library digitized collections. Included are: Macleod Advertiser (1908–1913), Macleod Chronicle (1908–1909), Macleod Gazette (1897–1907), Macleod News (1916–1919), & Macleod Spectator (1912–1916).

Notable people[edit]


Ang Lee's Academy Award-winning movie Brokeback Mountain was filmed in part in Fort Macleod. The laundry apartment is located at 2422 Third Avenue, where a sign is posted marking the "passionate reunion" of Jack and Ennis. Passchendaele was also filmed in Fort Macleod's historic downtown, which acted as a stand-in for Calgary circa 1915. Scenes involving the dust storm and Matthew McConaughey's character were also filmed in Fort Macleod in Christopher Nolan's 2014 film Interstellar, where the giant dust clouds were created on location using large fans to blow cellulose-based synthetic dust through the air.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Museum of the North-West Mounted Police
  2. ^ a b c "Location and History Profile: Town of Fort Macleod". Alberta Municipal Affairs. June 14, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Municipal Officials Search". Alberta Municipal Affairs. July 22, 2016. Retrieved July 25, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ Historic Fort Livingstone
  7. ^ Fort Macleod history
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Alberta First. Fort Macleod Overview
  10. ^ The Canadian UFO Report: The Best Cases Revealed, Chris Rutkowski and Geoff Dittman, 2006, ISBN 1-55002-621-6
  11. ^ Environment CanadaCanadian Climate Normals 1971–2000, accessed 3 April 2010
  12. ^ Statistics Canada (2006). "Fort Macleod - Community Profile". Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  13. ^ Fort Macleod profile - Statistics Canada. 2002. 2001 Community Profiles. Released June 27, 2002. Last modified: 2005-11-30. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 93F0053XIE
  14. ^ "RHL – About Us". Ranchland Hockey League. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  15. ^ Fort Macleod Gazette
  16. ^ Strathern, Gloria M. (1988). Alberta Newspapers, 1880-1982: An Historical Directory. University of Alberta. ISBN 0-88864-137-0.
  17. ^ Frank McTighe (August 28, 2013). "Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey in Fort Macleod to film scene from 'Interstellar'"". Macleod Gazette. Retrieved January 9, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°43′32.1″N 113°23′51.1″W / 49.725583°N 113.397528°W / 49.725583; -113.397528 (Fort Macleod)