Making their mark

Communities of Olds and Didsbury full of rich history and community values

As the Calgary and Edmonton Railway (today known as Canada Pacific Railway), started rumbling across Alberta, small towns and villages dotted the boundaries of the track, including Olds and Didsbury.

Olds

Incorporated as a village in 1896, Olds was named for Canada Pacific Railway traffic manager George Olds. Early industry in the town was a brick plant. In 1913, Olds College would be constructed and grow to become one of the most in-demand agricultural education institutions in Canada.

Today, the college is part of the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development, a group that also includes the Town, Olds Regional Exhibition and Chamber of Commerce.

“We feel those are our key partners and stakeholders we need to engage with all our decisions,” said Mayor Judy Dahl.

Dahl said the partnership is a driving reason behind the town’s growth in recent years – especially as the community of 10,000 continues to expand.

“When I am able to look at (the) monthly building permit stats, (I) realize that we are extremely gifted to be able to have a balance in our community of residential, commercial, industrial and institutional. That is really a key growth indicator for us.”

In 2014, Olds had 42 single-detached building permits worth just over $14 million; 18 commercial building permits valued at $4.8 million; five industrial worth $3.4 million and five institutional at just under $16 million.

Olds is further distinguishing itself from its rural counterparts through the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development O-NET. The television, high-speed Internet and phone service for the community is set to include free community Wi-Fi.

“The big thing is this enables people to use their phones, tablets, iPads and much more,” said O-NET general manager Bill Dunbar. “As the network grows, it’s going to be of great value to our community and guests.”

Didsbury

Like Olds, Didsbury benefited from the Calgary and Edmonton Railroad, with town construction beginning after a train station was built in the area in 1904. Today, the station remains a popular location for community events.

The town has maintained its rich history in other ways, too, culminating in a 2010 Heritage Survey that identified 136 sites of potential heritage value. In 2011, the Heritage Collaborative Inc. focused on 25 of those sites approved by council in 2012.

The two properties designated so far are the J.V. Berscht building constructed in 1925, significant for its association with early commercial development in Didsbury; and the Alberta Government Telephone (AGT) building constructed in 1920.

Making history these days is Didsbury’s mark on the film and television world as the town was a location for the popular FX series Fargo.

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