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Fort Macleod
Macleod (1884–1913)
Town
Town of Fort Macleod
The NWMP fort in Fort Macleod, which is now a museum
The NWMP fort in Fort Macleod, which is now a museum
Country  Canada
Province  Alberta
Region Southern Alberta
Census division 3
Municipal district Municipal District of Willow Creek No. 26
Incorporated  
 • Town December 31, 1892 (as Macleod)
 • Name change April 1, 1952
Area (2016)
 • Land 23.41 km2 (9.04 sq mi)
Elevation 945 m (3,100 ft)
Population (2016)
 • Total 2,967
 • Density 126.8/km2 (328/sq mi)
Time zone MST (UTC−7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC−6)
Postal code span T0L
Area code(s) +1-403
American Hotel in Fort Macleod
The American Hotel
Fort Macleod & District Community Hall
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.

History

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. Fort Macleod was originally established in 1874 on an peninsula along the Oldman River, then moved in 1884 to the present town location. The Museum of the North-West Mounted Police is located in Fort Macleod.

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.

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.

Demographics

In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Fort Macleod recorded a population of 2,967 living in 1,226 of its 1,426 total private dwellings, a -4.8% change from its 2011 population of 3,117. With a land area of 23.41 km2 (9.04 sq mi), it had a population density of 126.7/km2 (328/sq mi) in 2016.

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 (346/sq mi) in 2011.

Geography

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.

Climate

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

The community enjoys frequent breaks from cold spells in winter when the Chinook wind blows down-slope from the Rocky Mountains. A Chinook on 27 February 1992 caused the temperature to rise to 26.5 °C (80 °F).

The highest temperature ever recorded at Fort Macleod was 102 °F (38.9 °C) on 7 July 1896, 18 July 1910 and 17 July 1919. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −49 °F (−45.0 °C) on 2 February 1905, 17 December 1924 and 28 January 1929.

Climate data for Fort Macleod, 1971–2000 normals, extremes 1876–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.8
(67.6)
26.5
(79.7)
27.8
(82)
32.2
(90)
34.5
(94.1)
38.3
(100.9)
38.9
(102)
37.2
(99)
36.7
(98.1)
31.0
(87.8)
26.1
(79)
17.8
(64)
38.9
(102)
Average high °C (°F) −1.3
(29.7)
1.9
(35.4)
6.7
(44.1)
12.7
(54.9)
18.0
(64.4)
22.4
(72.3)
25.6
(78.1)
24.8
(76.6)
19.1
(66.4)
14.3
(57.7)
4.2
(39.6)
−0.2
(31.6)
12.4
(54.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) −7.1
(19.2)
−4.3
(24.3)
0.4
(32.7)
6.0
(42.8)
11.1
(52)
15.4
(59.7)
18.0
(64.4)
17.2
(63)
11.8
(53.2)
7.2
(45)
−1.2
(29.8)
−5.8
(21.6)
5.7
(42.3)
Average low °C (°F) −13.0
(9)
−10.4
(13.3)
−5.9
(21.4)
−0.8
(30.6)
4.1
(39.4)
8.3
(46.9)
10.4
(50.7)
9.5
(49.1)
4.4
(39.9)
0.0
(32)
−6.7
(19.9)
−11.5
(11.3)
−1.0
(30)
Record low °C (°F) −45.0
(-49)
−45.0
(-49)
−36.7
(-34.1)
−23.3
(-9.9)
−15.0
(5)
−10.0
(14)
0.0
(32)
−2.2
(28)
−17.8
(-0)
−28.0
(-18)
−38.9
(-38)
−45.0
(-49)
−45.0
(-49)
Precipitation mm (inches) 21.0
(0.827)
17.8
(0.701)
27.5
(1.083)
37.7
(1.484)
57.2
(2.252)
61.2
(2.409)
46.5
(1.831)
50.0
(1.969)
46.2
(1.819)
18.9
(0.744)
20.2
(0.795)
20.9
(0.823)
425.0
(16.732)
Source: Environment Canada

Film

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.

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