Camrose is a city in central Alberta, Canada, amid some of the richest farmland in the prairies. It is a relatively small city which originally grew up along a railroad and now grows along Highway 13. Camrose is a scenic community with many parks, leading to its moniker "The Rose City". Camrose offers a relaxed lifestyle with a large population of retirees.
The area around Camrose was first settled in around 1900. At that time the nearby settlement of Wetaskiwin was a major centre for pioneers; typically, it was the last stopping-off point before they set out in search of nearby land. The site that was to be Camrose was about a day's journey from Wetaskiwin along the railroad, which made it a popular place on the route of pioneers. Soon businessmen and other settlers arrived to stay. The settlers came primarily from Scandinavian countries, such as Norway and Sweden, and many settlers also came from the United States. At that time the settlement was known as the hamlet of Stoney Creek. In 1904, Stoney Creek began receiving mail service, its first businesses began to open, and its first RCMP officer (Constable "Blue" Smith) arrived.
On May 4, 1905, the settlement was incorporated as the Village of Sparling, named for Reverend Dr. Sparling. However, because the name was often confused with Sperling and Stirling, in 1906 the Village Council renamed the settlement to Camrose. There is no factual evidence about the reason for the choice of the name Camrose, but it is generally thought that it was named after the Village of Camrose in Pembrokeshire, South Wales. In December 1906, Camrose was incorporated as a town.
In 1906, Camrose opened its first newspaper, The Camrose Mail, which was replaced in 1908 by the Camrose Canadian, which is still published to this day. In March 1907 the town erected a building for town administration, which also held its first police and fire station. In October 1907 men from Alberta Government Telephones set up Camrose's first telephone exchange, and by 1908 about fifty residents had telephone access. 1911 saw the construction of Camrose's first power plant.
From 1905 to 1914, there was a great deal of railway construction in the Camrose area. Camrose became a bit of a railroad hub, sitting on railways that connected to Edmonton and Calgary, as well as many of the smaller towns in central Alberta, such as Vegreville, Stettler, Drumheller, and Wetaskiwin. By 1914, twelve passenger trains came through Camrose daily. In those days the growth of Camrose was strongly linked with the railway.
On June 26, 1912, the first building of the Camrose Lutheran College (known as Augustana University College from 1991 to 2004) was opened. Today the campus continues as the Augustana Faculty of the University of Alberta.
During World War II, the Camrose Fairgrounds converted to an army training grounds. About ten H-Shaped huts were built, as well as mess quarters, medical building and a storehouse. Thousands of Canadian boys came to Camrose to receive their basic training.
Camrose became a city on January 1, 1955. By 1958, Camrose had converted the old post office into the new City Hall. In 1954, however, Camrose had sold the old town hall to the federal government, so in the interim the city council met for almost three years in the hall of the local Methodist Church.
Camrose has continued to expand, even as the significance of the railroads waned. It is now stretching out along Highway 13, and is becoming a major stop for travellers along that road. With the advent of the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose it has become even more oriented towards tourism and hospitality.
Camrose was host to a popular Alberta Music Camp for upwards of 40 years, named MusiCamrose, until it later changed to MusiCamp Alberta, now hosted in Red Deer, Alberta. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in the summer of 2007. It was founded by Peterkin.
Camrose is home to the popular Christmas treat, the Christmas sausage, which can be bought in the winter season. Fred Duggan and his butcher invented these. (The Duggan family is one of the four founding families of Camrose.)
On Wednesday, October 26, 2005, a single lottery ticket worth $54,000,000 (the largest in Canadian history) was sold in Camrose. The ticket belonged to seventeen oil industry workers.
In August 2006, Camrose held a Founders Day when four men were inducted as founding fathers of Camrose.