When 29-year-old Robert Telford decided to put down roots along a creek just west of a lake, he was aware of the plans of a railroad coming through the area as tracks were being laid just south of his location. It is doubtful that when he and his new bride established a stopping place for travelers heading for Edmonton from Calgary that he visioned the area would become a major city in Alberta.
Telford was aware that there was a potential for growth as it was a natural stopping place first for stagecoaches and then the coming railroad. He knew that the soil was fertile and would be a draw for homesteaders. Telford could not have foreseen the discovery of oil and the impact it would have on the area or the development of an international airport on his doorstep.
In 1890, the area was known as Telford Place and that name might well have continued to this day if not for a chance encounter of a missionary and a telegraph official in 1891. With the arrival of the railroad in 1891, a telegraph office was opened and the company wanted a name for the station. It just happened that the station’s operator McKinley had decided that he would name it after the next person who walked into the office just as Father Hippolyte Leduc opened the doors to send a message to Father Lacombe. However, for the next eight years, locals often referred the area as Telford Place and it was shown on maps of Alberta.
The population saw an immediate increase in 1891 when it went from two (Telford and his wife) to five when the new station manager arrived with his wife and child. Growth continued for the next few years, but then the panic of 1893 resulted in more people leaving than arriving with many homesteads being abandoned. By 1895 the area was again drawing new settlers with many reclaiming the abandoned homesteads or establishing business to accommodate the needs of homesteaders and travelers.
As the century was drawing to a close there were enough people to establish a village. Lieutenant Governor Dewdney of the Northwest Territories had been provided a list of names by the Canadian Pacific Railroad given to them by Father Lacombe. On the list was Father Leduc’s name. Since the telegraph office was already named after Father Leduc, the Lt. Governor decided the new village should also be called Leduc. On December 15, 1899, Leduc was officially incorporated as a village and the name Telford Place disappeared from maps and into history.
Growth continued from 112 in 1901 to over 500 by 1906 and a year after Alberta became a province, Leduc became a town. Through the next forty years Leduc saw a slow steady growth that was affected by two World Wars and the Great Depression. In 1947 Leduc #1 arrived and would forever affect Leduc’s growth. From a population of 900 in 1947, Leduc grew to 2168 citizens by 1955. In 1960 the Edmonton International Airport opened to stimulate further growth.
By 1983 Leduc’s population had passed the 10,000 number required to become a city. By the end of the year Leduc became Alberta’s 13th largest city with a population of 12,700. Once again Leduc saw steady growth and by 2006 the city’s population had reached 16,967. Then the growth of the Leduc Business Park, the development of the Nisku Industrial Park, and the rapid growth of the International Airport resulted in another growth spurt over the past eight years. Today Leduc’s population has crossed the 28,000 mark and is in position to double the 2006 population by the end of the decade.
Telford Pace may no longer be on the maps, but the place that Telford established in 1890 has become the home of ten’s of thousands continues to grow with a bright future.