Red Deer (pop 100,000, 2016) sits in aspen parkland, in a region of rolling hills. The city is a centre for oil and natural gas extraction and related industries and also for agriculture and agricultural services. It is also a regional centre for administration with a courthouse and provincial building. There is a large commercial district/business park called Gasoline Alley just south of the city limits.
The Cree peoples called the river on which Red Deer stands Waskasoo Seepee, which translates to "Elk River". However, British traders translated the name as "Red Deer River", since they mistakenly thought elk were European red deer. Later, the settlers of the area named their community after the river. The name for the modern city in Plains Cree is a calque back from English of the mistranslated, mihkwâpisimosos, literally "red type of deer", while the name of the river is still wâwâskêsiw-sîpiy or "elk river".
Prior to European settlement, the area was a gathering place that was inhabited by Aboriginal tribes including the Blackfoot, Plains Cree and Stoney. European fur traders began passing through the area in the late 18th century. Into this ethnic mix, the Métis peoples also emerged.
A native trail ran from Montana in the south across the Bow River near Calgary and on to Fort Edmonton. About halfway between Calgary and Edmonton, the trail crossed the Red Deer River at a wide, stony shallow used by First Nations peoples and bison, commonly known as buffalo, since ancient times. The shallows, now known as the Old Red Deer Crossing, are about 7 km (4.3 mi) upstream from the present City of Red Deer.
With the establishment of Fort Calgary by the North-West Mounted Police in 1875, traffic increased along what was by then known as the Calgary and Edmonton Trail. After the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Calgary, traffic along the C & E trail increased substantially. A trading post and stopping house were built at the Crossing in 1882 and a permanent settlement began to develop around it.
During the 1885 Riel Rebellion, the Canadian militia constructed Fort Normandeau at the Crossing. The fort was later taken over by the North-West Mounted Police who used it until 1893.
With the decimation of the bison by hunters, the Aboriginal tribes who relied on them for food, clothing and shelter were also in decline. The fertile lands around the Red Deer River were attractive to farmers and ranchers. One early settler, the Reverend Leonard Gaetz, gave a half-share of 1,240 acres (5.0 km²) he had acquired to the Calgary and Edmonton Railway to develop a bridge over the river and a townsite. As a result, the Crossing was gradually abandoned. The first train from Calgary to Edmonton passed through Red Deer in 1891.
Red Deer had a massive influx of settlers in the early 1900s. Because of its location midway between Edmonton and Calgary and the fertile land that supported profitable mixed farming, Red Deer developed primarily as an agricultural service and distribution centre. A further boost came in 1907 when it was chosen as a major divisional point for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Two other railways, the Alberta Central Railway and the Canadian Northern Railway, entered the community in 1911. Red Deer underwent a large land boom.
World War I brought a sharp end to the boom. Red Deer emerged as a small, quiet, but prosperous, prairie city.
Growth returned to the city with the outbreak of World War II. Red Deer was chosen as the location of a large military training camp, the A-20 Camp which was located where Cormack Armoury, the Memorial Centre and Lindsay Thurber High School are now. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan built two air bases to the south of the city at Penhold and Bowden.
By roughly 1991, the Canadian Pacific Railway had been removed from the inner city; the track now runs parallel to the city outskirts. The most prominent landmark of the railway remaining is the CPR bridge spanning the Red Deer River, converted to a walking trail shortly after the track removal.
- The Queen Elizabeth II highway (Highway 2), allow about 1 hr 20 min to drive from either Edmonton or Calgary main airports.
- Red Deer Regional Airport does not have scheduled airline service (as of June 2020). It serves charter flights and general aviation.
- A Red Deer Shuttle Service (☏ ) offers door-to-door service to/from Calgary or Edmonton.
- Red Arrow and sister brand Ebus offer direct service from Edmonton or Calgary.
- Rider Express. Bus service from Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary, and Vancouver.
The Bus is the only form of public transportation and is a good way of getting around the city.
A couple of taxi companies (Alberta Gold and Associated Cab) operate in the city. They can get busy during rush hours or Friday nights, but are usually fast.
- 1 Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, 30 Riverview Park (Hwy 2 north, just north of 32 St), ☏ . Over 6,000 square feet with more than 7,000 artefacts of Alberta sports history. Interactive hockey rink, baseball pitching field and alpine skiing machine.
- 2 Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary, 6300 45 Ave, ☏ , fax: . Nearly 300 acres of federally-protected migratory bird sanctuary with 5 km of trails, a bird blind and viewing decks. No skiing, jogging, pets or cycling are permitted in the sanctuary.
- 3 Historic Fort Normandeau, 28054B Range Road 382, Red Deer County (five minutes west of Red Deer on 32 St), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Noon-5PM (Victoria Day-end June), noon-8PM (Jul-Aug).
- 4 Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery (Red Deer & District Archives), 4525 47A Ave, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. free.
- Biking – Red Deer Mountain Bike Park. At the north end of Red Deer, east of Gaetz Avenue and west of Riverside Drive between 77 Street and Chiles Industrial Park. Features many cross-country trails, and trails designed for stunts.
- Horseback riding at Heritage Ranch, 25 Riverview Park, ☏ , fax: . Part of the Waskasoo Park system, Heritage Ranch's equestrian centre is open year round, offering horse drawn wagon rides, trail rides, and pony rides. Coffee shop on site.
- Cross Country skiing. Cross-country trails throughout the town, including around Heritage Ranch, Great Chief Park and Red Deer College. Riverbend also has a large set of trails, but a ski pass is required - call +1 403-343-8311 to obtain a daily or season pass.
- Ice skating at Bowers Pond, in Great Chief Park.
- Canoeing, Blindman or Red Deer rivers. Plenty of launch/recovery sites near the city.
- Red Deer Rebels, Westerner Park Centrium, 4847A 19th Street, ☏ . The Rebels are a Western Hockey League junior ice hockey team.
- 1 Bower Place (Bower Place Shopping Centre), 4900 Molly Banister Drive. More than 120 stores and services including Hudson's Bay, H&M, Toys "R" Us and Shoppers Drug Mart.
- 2 Parkland Mall, 6959 50 Avenue (Gaetz Avenue (Hwy 2A) & 67 St (Hwy 11)).
- 3 Southpointe Common (19 St (both sides) between Gaetz Ave and Taylor Dr).
- 4 Gasoline Alley, Red Deer County (Highway 2, just south of Red Deer city limits). Tourist services on both sides of Hwy 2; big box retail on the west side of Hwy 2 (accessed from Mackenzie Rd)
- 5 Downtown Red Deer. More than 75 stores.
- 6 Village Mall (Gaetz Avenue (Hwy 2A) & 67 St (Hwy 11)). Powercentre, across from Parkland Mall.
- 7 Gaetz Ave Crossing (22 St between Gaetz Ave and Taylor Dr).
As the hub of Central Alberta, Red Deer has a lot of great places to eat.
- 1 Blue Dragon, 7611 49 Ave, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 11:30AM-8PM, F 11:30AM-9PM, Sa 2:30-9PM. Hidden away in an industrial area, but well worth the hunt. Authentic Cambodian cuisine. Many dishes are spicy, so ask to make them mild.
- 2 [dead link] China Ben, 7464 50 Ave, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 11AM-10PM. Chinese food, good buffet, fast delivery, always a coupon on the menu.
- 3 Le Chateau Restaurant, #101D 5212 48 St, ☏ . Chinese.
- 4 Momo Sushi, 4819 48 Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, 4:30-8:30PM. Very good sushi, inexpensive combination specials.
- 5 Mongolie Grill, #101B 5212 48 St, ☏ . M Tu Th 11AM-8:30PM, W F 11AM-9PM, Sa 11:30AM-9PM, Su noon-8AM. Mongolian restaurant.
- 6 Noodle House Vietnamese & Chinese, 4815 48 Ave, ☏ .
- 7 Pho Thuy Duong (The Vietnamese Restaurant), #4 5108 52 Street (in strip mall near city centre), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM. Popular Vietnamese dishes like pho (large bowls of soup) and bowls of cold vermicelli noodles topped with meats and vegetables. Friendly and professional, food appears quickly (even at lunch) and prices are pretty good. $6-9 per dish.
- 8 Red Deer Buffet, #35 6320 50 Ave, ☏ . Lunch and dinner buffet, good selection of Chinese and Western food. Daily 11AM-9PM.
- Shiso Japanese Restaurant (on Gaetz near downtown). Decent sushi. Good lunch buffet on weekends with long line-ups after 12:30 or so. If you can't wait, a restaurant next door serves fairly authentic Chinese dim-sung with a lounge offering Western food.
- Sushi Sushi, 4909-49 Street. OK sushi. OK price. Better places out there.
- Dino's Family Restaurant, 4617 Gaetz Avenue (downtown). Awesome pizza and pasta, 2 for 1.
- Hickory Smokehouse, 4909-48 Street.
- Las Palmeros. Mexican.
- Saro's Greek Restaurant, 4914-52 Street.
- Velvet Olive, 4924 Ross Street. Tiny venue for misc artists as well.
- Café Noble & Bakery, 5005-50 Ave.
- City Roast Coffee, 4940 Ross Street.
- Mia's Café, 4929 Ross St..
- Stella's Riverside Café, 5012-58 Street.
Pubs and taverns
- Albert's Family Restaurant, 5020-47 Ave. Also pretty fun to drink at, kind of a banger/old timer atmosphere. $1 draft and free pool on Sundays.
- Original Joe's Restaurant & Bar, 4720-51 Ave (Downtown near the clubs). Patio, dinner and drinks.
Like much of Alberta, Red Deer is experiencing a thirst for local craft beer.
- 1 Troubled Monk, 5551 45 Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 11AM-8PM, F Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 11AM-7PM. Brewery and distillery, with homemade non-alcoholic pop in nicely appointed taproom.
- 2 Belly Hop, 8105 Edgar Industrial Drive, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. F 4-7PM, Sa Su 2-6PM. Boutique brewery with sizeable patio.
- Best Western Inn & Suites, 6839 66 Street, ☏ , toll-free: .
- Black Knight Inn, 2929 50 Avenue, ☏ , toll-free: .
- Comfort Inn & Suites, 6846 67 Street, ☏ , toll-free: .
- Days Inn, #1000 – 5001 19 Street., ☏ .
- Holiday Inn Express, 2803 50 Avenue, ☏ .
- [dead link] North Hill Inn, 7150 50 Avenue, ☏ . Quality Inn, Lion's Den Pub, Wild Bill's Sports Bar.
- Ramada Red Deer, 4217 50 Avenue, ☏ .
- [formerly dead link] Red Deer Lodge, 4311 49th Avenue, ☏ , toll-free: .
- Sheraton Red Deer, 3310 50 Avenue, ☏ , toll-free: . From $180.
- Super 8, 7474 50 Avenue, ☏ , toll-free: .
- Radisson Hotel Red Deer, 6500 67 Street, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bed and Breakfast
- [dead link] Apples and Angels Bed & Breakfast, 288 Lampard Crescent, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- [dead link] Dutchess Manor Spa & Guesthouse, 4813 54 Street, ☏ .
- La Solitude B & B, RR #4, ☏ , fax: .
- McIntosh Bed & Breakfast, 4631 50 Street, ☏ .
- [dead link] Poplar Ridge Bed & Breakfast, RR #1, Site 2, Box 47, ☏ .
- [dead link] Rolyn Hills B & B and Guest Ranch, RR #2, ☏ , fax: .
- Springbett Bed and Breakfast, 4445 Springbett Drive, ☏ .
- Fawn Meadows Bed & Breakfast, Cabins & RV Park, 2201 - 18 Avenue, Delburne, toll-free: .
The Red Deer area code is +1 403.
- Sylvan Lake. About a 20 minute drive west, this is Central Alberta's summer playground with a relaxed beach town atmosphere and fun on the water.
- Lacombe. To the north, this town features charming well-preserved brick buildings and a popular microbrewery. Nearby Gull Lake also has pleasant beaches.
- Rocky Mountain House and David Thompson Country. Alberta's Rocky Mountains, but far less busy than the national parks.
- Stettler. To the east on the dry prairie. Features a heritage railway with steam locomotives, and beaches at nearby Buffalo Lake.
- Calgary. The gateway city to Banff and the Rocky Mountains.
- Edmonton. Alberta's capital city, variously branded as the 'festival city' and 'winter city'.
|Routes through Red Deer|
|Edmonton ← Lacombe ←||N S||→ Innisfail → Calgary|
|Wetaskiwin ← Lacombe ←||N S||→ Innisfail → Olds|
|Rocky Mountain House ← Sylvan Lake ←||W E||→ Alix → Stettler via|