Balmoral Community Hall
Located Directly across from Parkland Greenhouse. Only Minutes from the City of Red Deer! (20, 26553 HWY 11 Red Deer County, Alberta)
One of the finest agricultural heartlands in all of Canada, and probably in all of North America, is the Balmoral district on the northeast side of the City of Red Deer.
The area was named Balmoral in 1891 to honour Rev. William Scott, a Presbyterian minister, who had recently homesteaded in the district from Balmoral, Scotland.
People already been living in the area for many millennia. Many First Nations favoured Balmoral as a camping and hunting spot, due to the plentiful supply of fresh water and shelter, and the large numbers of animals, such as bison, elk and deer, which grazed in the rich grasslands.
The first agricultural settlement commenced in 1882 when a group of Metis settlers came west from Headingly, Manitoba and settled along the Red Deer River between the mouths of Waskasoo Creek and the Blindman River.
Their trip to Central Alberta was an epic one. They travelled more than 1600 km. (1000 miles) cross-country. They brought with them with several cartloads of household effects, supplies, a steam boiler and engine, a threshing machine and a complete sawmill outfit.
These resourceful settlers worked hard to build up their new farms. In order to make some cash income, they put the sawmill into operation and began selling lumber.
When Fort Normandeau was built during the Riel Rebellion in the spring of 1885, they sold supplies and provisions, first to the soldiers and later to the North West Mounted Police, after the police took over the fort.
The spot where the old Calgary-Edmonton Trail crossed the Blindman River was notorious as a dangerous ford. Consequently, the McKenzies created a new secondary trail, dubbed the McKenzie Trail, to the mouth of the Blindman where they built a ferry.
Unfortunately, many of the Headingly families found out that they had settled on land that the Federal Government had sold to the Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Company. Although they had legitimate legal claims, by way of squatters’ rights, the Government was oblivious to their petitions and protests. Finally, in 1890, they gave up in disgust and moved away.
Two of the Headingly settlers, Roderick and David McKenzie briefly returned. In 1894, they got the contract to build the first traffic bridge across the river. Although they did not have formal training, they built quite a serviceable bridge. Five years later, government engineers built a replacement bridge. It washed out a few months later with the spring flood.
Meanwhile, other settlers began to arrive in the Balmoral district to take up homesteads, or to buy land form the S.L.H.Co. By 1891, there were enough young children in the area that a local school district was established. It is a reflection of the prosperity of the district that both the first school house, and a later one, were substantial structures made of brick.
Many of the early settlers found that the rich loams of Balmoral with its thick willow brush, were a challenge for most of the plows available at the time. Consequently, a Balmoral resident, Frank Van Slyke, invented a breaking plow. The Van Slyke plow was a tremendous success. An image of it is included on the Red Deer City Crest.
After the Second World War, with the City of Red Deer flourishing and the roads into town greatly improved, many children were bussed to a consolidated school at the old A-20 military training camp, north of 55 Street. This school was initially named Balmoral 3 (Balmoral 2 being the Westward View School on the Divide Hill). The original Balmoral school was closed in 1953. Balmoral 3 was renamed River Glen.
Meanwhile, major changes came in 1955, when oil and gas deposits were discovered in the district. There were soon a great many producing wells in Balmoral. When production began to flag, water was pumped down the wells under pressure to increase the amount of oil recovered.
Today, Balmoral remains a beautiful area, with well-kept farms and many acreages. There is also a golf course and ski hill. However, as the City continues to grow, more land has been annexed. New subdivisions and retail complexes have been developed.