A Brief History of Mountain View County
Today Mountain View County is a prosperous rural municipality located in the heart of Alberta's Calgary-Edmonton Corridor. Just over a century ago, the same stretch of land was for the most part un-tamed wilderness, void of any semblance of permanent settlement.
The first government surveys of the Mountain View region weren't undertaken until 1883, around the time when the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in present-day Calgary. Just to the east of where the busy Queen Elizabeth II highway runs today, people and goods traveled by horse and wagon between Calgary and Fort Edmonton along the original Calgary and Edmonton (C&E) Trail. In 1890, the C & E (Calgary and Edmonton) Railway was chartered and construction began, with the line reaching Mountain View by the end of the year.
While a handful of squatters had arrived pre-1890, settlement in Mountain View didn't begin in earnest until the arrival of the C & E Railway. On July 27, 1891 the first through train made the trip from Calgary to south Edmonton, marking the beginning of regular scheduled passenger train service for the next 60 years. After 1891, homesteaders began to arrive in the region from across Europe and North America, with settlements sprouting up around the fourth (Carstairs), fifth (Didsbury) and sixth (Olds) sidings.
Settlement in the early days was typified by ethnic and usually religious groups living in close-knit communities or colonies. Notable among them were a group of Mennonite families from Europe via Ontario who homesteaded in the Didsbury-area around the turn of the 19th century. A large number of German settlers from the American Midwest also settled around Olds; and a group of Norwegian pioneers blazed a trail westward towards Sundre and Bergen.
It was also in the early 1890s that the first schools began to organize. By 1930, almost 90 school districts had been created to serve the Mountain View region, with the one-room school house remaining a fixture of rural life until the Social Credit government initiated the process of consolidation in the late '30s.
Local Improvement Districts were created by the province post-1905 to provide local government for the citizens of Alberta. In 1912, the province moved to create larger rural municipalities and held a series of plebiscites throughout Alberta on the issue. In Mountain View the initial response to the idea of consolidation was unenthusiastic, with a majority of rural residents voting against the idea. Only the Rural Municipality of Mountain View No. 310 was created out of four improvement districts around Olds and Didsbury, making it one of 55 rural municipalities to come into existence province-wide on Dec. 9, 1912.
Once created, these new municipalities were tasked with a number of duties, as described by Bodil J. Jensen in her 1983 history of the County of Mountain View No. 17:
"The agenda of the municipal councils was largely repetitious, and routine; deciding on the areas for road improvement, petitioning the provincial government for bridges; setting and collecting taxes; distributing the school tax when this function was taken form the local school boards; enforcing the herd law and employing a pound keeper; regulating the building code; handling municipal hail insurance; distributing relief in times of need; and generally looking after the local needs of the residents as the county government does today."
Local government in Mountain View continued to evolve, with a number of municipal districts merging to create the Municipal District of Dog Pound in 1943 (re-named the M.D. of Mountain View a year later). In 1955, the M.D. of Mountain View and Olds School Division No. 39 were made "coterminous" -meaning they shared the same boundaries- and with the introduction of the County system of government in 1961 joint administration of municipalities and the school boards was initiated, continuing until 1994. Accompanying this change, the Municipal District of Mountain View No. 49 was formed into the County of Mountain View No. 17 as of Jan. 1, 1961, with William J. Bagnall of Dogpound selected as the County's first Reeve. A municipal councillor prior to the County's formation, Bagnall would continue to serve as Reeve until 1980, and as a councillor until 1985.
The newly-formed County chose Didsbury as the seat of government, and in Oct. 1962, a new administration building was opened to house both the County administration and the school board. This building would serve the County until a new state-of-the-art office was opened on Hwy. 2A between Olds and Didsbury in June of 2005.
On Jan 21, 1998 the County of Mountain View No. 17 officially changed its name to Mountain View County.
Jensen, Bodil J., Alberta's County of Mountain View- A History, Didsbury, Alta.: Mountain View County No.17, 1983
"Story of Rural Municipal Government in Alberta 1909 to 1983", Alberta Association of the Municipal Districts and Counties
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