Carstairs is believed to have been settled in the early 1880s. A survey map shows the location of the Sam Scarlett ranch with the Rosebud River and the Calgary-Edmonotn Trail crossing the land. By 1890 the railway and telegraph between Calgary and Edmonton was being constructed. The first employees that can be recollected were Mr. Main as station agent, Billie Warren as section foreman (about 1902), and Chester Stearns, Steam Engineer, as pumpman, in 1905.
By 1900 settlers were arriving in numbers. The train station was a hub of activity as it was the only building here. It was used for church service, mail service and meeting hall.
Mr. E.W. Stone of Canmore was Carstairs’ first businessman and first citizen, although Mr. W. McCrimmon was the first to be born here in 1893. In 1901, Mr. Stone built a general store and soon businesses were sprouting everywhere. A livery barn was soon built and “u-drive buggies” were big business as prospective land seekers rented them to explore the area. The community continued to grow, and in 1901, a one room school was built, closely followed by the cemetery.
By 1906, the Carstairs Journal records boasted that Carstairs had “two hotels, two hardware stores, three general stores, five agricultural implement dealers, two livery stables, two lumberyards, two blacksmith shops, two real estate firms, a millinery shop, a dentist, a lawyer, two physicians, one drug store, one telephone office, a public hall, two barber shops, a poolroom, a newspaper, three churches, two feed stores, a photographer, a jewellery store, one meat market, a planing mill and woodworking establishment, one laundry, an elevator, and more coming all the time. Keep your eye on Carstairs and watch it grow!”
This brief reminiscence of the early days was culled from the Carstairs History Book, “Beyond Our Prairie Trails”. There are two volumes of the books which make for a fascinating read. They can be purchased locally or browsed through at the Bob Clark Municipal Library. Also, the Roulston Museum is a wonderful resource for discovering and learning about the early days of Carstairs and area. As you can see, Carstairs established itself as a thriving community many years ago and is to this day, committed to the preservation and maintenance of a wholesome and prosperous lifestyle. Carstairs’ friendly hospitality shines throughout the year and that is why tourists, families and businesses alike, are attracted to the Town of Carstairs.
Excerpt taken from Town of Carstairs Website.