Located Red Deer’s 103,000 residents live 159 km north of Calgary, in the center for Alberta’s oil production and agriculture. The city is named for the Red Deer River which flows through the center of town. Because of the populous elk herds, the Cree Indians called the river “Waskasoo Seepee” or Elk River. The first white men thought the elk were related to the Scottish red deer, and therefore renamed the river.

The town began in 1885 at a shallow ford across the river, three miles upstream from the current downtown. The town became a major stopping point on the trail between Calgary and Edmonton. When the railroad arrived in 1891, the town moved to its current location when Dr. Leonard Gaetz offered half of his homestead to the railroad company. Red Deer grew to be a town in 1901 and became a city in 1913.

During the Second World War, Red Deer became the location of a large military training camp,plus two major air bases to the south at Penhold and Bowden. After the war, the town boomed following the discovery of oil and natural gas fields in the area. In the 1970s, another boom was caused by the construction of world-scale petrochemical plants east of the city at Joffre and at Prentiss. In the 1980s  Highway 2 was built with a by-pass around the city, so that it did not travel through the downtown core in the river valley.

Red Deer Attractions

Red Deer has a number of attractions, including:

Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

4920 – 51 St
(403) 341-8614

This museum was founded in 1957 and features over 370 Alberta sports heroes. it also showcases several major sporting events held in Alberta. Open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions

P.O. Bag 800, Stettler, AB TOC 2LO
(403) 742-2811

Starting in Stettler (70 kilometres east of Red Deer) these steam train tours offer entertainment and delicious meals, with stops at historic central Alberta towns. Tours on this authentic steam train can take from 4 1/2 to about 10 hours (depending on the tour), and operate from May 18 to Oct. 26. Admission Fee.

Bower Ponds

just off Kerry Wood Dr, beside Great Chief Park
Enjoy outdoor recreation including canoeing, fishing, picnicking, paddle-boating and cycling. In the winter, the ponds are popular for ice skating. The Cronquist House, a 1911 three-story Victorian farmhouse, sells arts & crafts and serves afternoon tea.

Fort Normandeau

on 32 St, 5 km east of highway 2
(403) 347-7550

This replica of the 1885 fort is built at The Crossing, the site of the original Red Deer settlement. This ford in the Red Deer River was an important stopover for travelers between Calgary and Edmonton. The fortified structures were built during the Northwest (Riel) Rebellion. Open during the summer from noon to 8 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. the rest of the year

Heritage Square

This collection of heritage buildings includes Red Deer’s oldest surviving structure, the 1890 Stevenson-Hall Block. The Aspelund Laft Hus is a replica of a 17th century Norwegian farm house.

Heritage Ranch

43 Street, close to Highway 2
(403) 346-0180

This ranch offers a playground, picnic area, fishing ponds, and of course horseback rides.

Kerry Wood Nature Center

6300-45 Ave
(403) 346-2010

The Kerry Wood Nature Center combines a children’s discovery room, a theatre, and a gallery. From mid-May to Labour Day, the centre is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The rest of the year, it is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Old Court House

4836 50 St, Red Deer, AB T4N 1X4
(Downtown, corner of Ross St & 49 Ave)
(403) 342-1565

The Old Court House now houses the David Thompson Country Tourist Council and the community arts centre, with working artists studios.

Red Deer & District Museum

4525 – 47A Ave
(403) 343-6844

The museum’s exhibits depict local history and geography. The art gallery hosts a variety of art shows. Walking tours of Red Deer begins at the museum. The museum hours are Monday to Thursday noon to 5 pm, and 7 pm to 9 pm, Fridays noon to 5 pm, and weekends 1 pm to 5 pm.

Sylvan Lake

This town is 18 km west of Red Deer on Highway 11

Sylvan Lake is a beach resort town,along 11 km long Sylvan Lake, and has been a popular summer stop since 1901. Jarvis Bay Provincial Park has camping and picnic facilities.

Waskasoo Park

48 St, Red Deer, AB T4N 3T3
(403) 342-8159

This park stretches along the Red Deer River, from the Heritage Ranch to the River Bend Recreation Area in the city’s northeast. The park includes 50 kilometres of river-valley bike trails, several picnic sites, and an 18 hole golf course.

Red Deer, Alberta Area Map