Innisfail History

The Town's origins date back to the mid-eighteenth century and continue to play a major role in the community's identity today.


The Early Years: Henday Arrives

The story of Innisfail’s long and illustrious history dates back to the fall of 1754, when Hudson’s Bay Company explorer Anthony Henday embarked upon an expedition to the area. Although Henday’s bid to convince the Blackfoot tribe to trade at York Factory in Manitoba proved futile, the explorer’s name and image have long since continued to be associated with the town’s history, and can still be found in many places around town today.


The Evolution: A Town is Born

The area later became known as Poplar Grove -- a popular stopping point along the Calgary-Edmonton Trail for stagecoach travellers, settlers and hunters among others who used the route. What began as a collection of shacks where they could stop for an overnight rest eventually grew into a permanent settlement, and thus, a town was born. The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1891 was accompanied by a new name for the then village: Innisfail -- a Celtic word, literally meaning ‘Isle of Destiny’. The Town of Innisfail was incorporated a short time later in 1903.


The Present: Innisfail Thrives

Innisfail is now home to some 8,000 residents, and continues to benefit from its prime location on the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor. Businesses small and large contribute to healthy and vibrant retail, commercial and industrial sectors, while regional tourism brings hundreds of thousands of tourists to the area every single year.

The Town of Innisfail is no longer simply a stopping point; it’s a destination to build and grow.