Bow City Townsite

Survey of the Bow City townsite, circa. 1910-11 with additional concept plan for W1/2 10-17-17 W4 by Canadian Pittsburg (sic) Realty Company. Provincial Archives of Alberta

Once a mine had been opened along the south bank of the Bow River, Bow City Collieries Ltd. began to focus their attention on promotion of the townsite it has promised to build overlooking the south bank of the Bow River.

In 1910, an initial survey of the north half of 9-17-17 W4 was undertaken by J.F. Hamilton, a land surveyor from Lethbridge. The initial site plan envisioned a townsite bounded by a “proposed Government Park” to the north, and Railway Avenue to the south, running alongside the proposed Bow City Collieries Railway from east to west, and the Hudson Bay quarter to the west. Departing from the traditional C.P.R. grid design of the time, roadways would radiate in eight directions from the town centre, bearing names such a Bow City Avenue, Park Boulevard, and on the river bottom along the Bow River, the aptly named Riverside Drive. Bow City Collieries Ltd. promoted the “uniformity in the survey of the town” as “one of the most attractive features present in the townsite of Bow City”:

“The streets, radiating from a common centre, will materially reduce the cost of maintenance of the public highways, and, at the same time, make Bow City one of the most attractive and park-like towns, as well as admitting of the maximum of cleanliness in the streets at the minimum of expense.

If you consider the plan of the townsite of Bow City, you will find that Alberta Avenue, Saskatchewan Avenue and Bow City Avenue- the three great arteries which will carry the commerce and trade to and from the centre throughout the whole city- are 100 feet in width, while the Park Boulevard, Railroad Avenue and Main Street are 120 feet in width…”

A subsequent survey was undertaken at some point afterward, incorporating the balance of the section, bisected by the Bow Centre Collieries right-of-way. The survey included two additional avenues radiating diagonally towards the south called Hamilton Avenue and Henderson Avenue respectibly, presumably named after the surveyor himself; and the managing director of the Prairie Coal Company Ltd. , Charles H. Henderson.

One more survey of the area was undertaken for the Canadian Pittsburg Realty Company on lands owned by former Saskatchewan politician H.C. Pierce (under the name Bow City Townsite Co.), incorporating an additional 320 acres in the west half of 10-17-17 W4. The schematic, which was an extension of the existing 640 acre townsite owned by the Prairie Coal Company Ltd., included a right-of-way for the Bow City Collieries railway which veered to the northeast, along with a marshalling yard and roundhouse. Land was also designated for two public schools, a high school, a courthouse, and a city hall.

Dan and Ray Herrick, whose homesteads were incorporated within the townsite plan for Section 10-17-17 W4, and their brother Ed were hired to lay out the town lots with a plow, and to mark the lots with 30” steel stakes. For their trouble, the Herricks would have an avenue named after them, which ran eastward from the marshalling yards.

With a townsite staked out, all that was needed was a town to go with it.

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