Stirling Agricultural Village National Historic Site of Canada

Stirling, Alberta
Stirling Agricultural Village National Historic Site of Canada (© Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada)
General view
(© Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada)
Address : 229 4 Ave., Stirling, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1989-06-22
  • 1899 to 1899 (Significant)
  • 1890 to 1915 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Charles O. Card  (Person)
  • Mormons  (Organization)
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Stirling Agricultural Village  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: Prairie Settlement Patterns


Existing plaque: In front of Village Office 229 4 Avenue, Stirling, Alberta

Stirling is Canada's best surviving example of a Mormon agricultural village. With its wide streets, large lots and grouped homesteads, it reflects the model community of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Stirling was established in 1899 by immigrants from the western United States who were hired to build the Galt Irrigation Canal. Paid partly in land around the village, these hard-working settlers brought this arid region of the prairies into agricultural production and thereby sustained their close-knit community life.

Description of Historic Place

Stirling Agricultural Village occupies one-square mile (260 hectares) of land in the heart of the short-grass prairie of southern Alberta, appearing as an oasis of trees and farmsteads amid a flat, open landscape. The one-section plat is laid out in a regular grid of wide streets with each ten-acre (4.1 hectares) block divided into large lots with widely spaced, wood-frame houses, agricultural outbuildings, gardens and animal pens. The village also includes a commercial area, a school and a church.

Heritage Value

Stirling Agricultural Village was designated a national historic site of Canada because it is the best surviving example of a Mormon agricultural village.

The heritage value of the village resides in its illustration of a typical Mormon settlement form from the turn of the twentieth century. It was introduced to southern Alberta by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who settled in this region during the Great Wheat Boom era from the late 1890s to 1914. The village of Stirling was founded in 1899 through a partnership between the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company and the LDS Church to bring American immigrants to build an irrigation canal and found two villages, Stirling and Cardston.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, February 1989; Commemorative Integrity Statement, 1996.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
the location of the village near the Galt Canal and the junction of two regional railway lines, the one-square mile plat with its grid plan created by 100-foot (30.5 metres) wide streets forming ten-acre blocks, divided into eight lots of 1.25 acres (5058.6 square metres), remnants of ditches, culverts, levees, cisterns, and an irrigation channel that drew water from the Galt Canal, abundance of vegetation including poplars, cottonwoods, pine, elm, ash, and fruit trees; berry and flowering bushes; carrigana hedges; pastures; and gardens, surviving traditional farmsteads with house set back 25 feet (7.6 metres) from the street at one corner of the property, a shelter belt of trees or bushes along the street in front and beside the house, barns and outbuilding grouped at the back of the property, a garden close to the house with a nearby root cellar, with remainder of the lot for corrals and pasture, separation of lots with fences of varied materials and design, the presence of a school and a Mormon church, the collection of houses, barns and outbuildings that survive from the pre-World War Two period in their surviving form and materials.