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North America > Canada > Prairies > Alberta > Central Alberta > Red Deer

Red Deer

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Red Deer, Alberta's third-largest city, is in Central Alberta between Calgary and Edmonton.

Understand[edit]

Downtown Red Deer

Red Deer (pop 100,000, 2016) is located 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. A large commercial district/business park called Gasoline Alley has developed in recent years 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".

History[edit]

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.

Get in[edit]

Map of Red Deer
  • The Queen Elizabeth II highway (Highway 2), allow about 1 hr 20 min to drive from either Edmonton or Calgary main airports.
  • Air Canada flies to Red Deer Regional Airport with onward connections in Calgary.
  • A Red Deer Shuttle Service (+1 403 318-0795) offers door-to-door service to/from Calgary or Edmonton.

Greyhound Canada

Greyhound Canada terminated all services in Western Canada and Northern Ontario effective October 31, 2018.

  • Red Arrow and sister brand Ebus offer direct service from Edmonton or Calgary.

Get around[edit]

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.

See[edit]

Do[edit]

  • 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, +1 403-347-4977, fax: +1 403-347-7794. 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.

Buy[edit]

  • 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. Bower Place (Q4950861) on Wikidata Bower Place on Wikipedia
  • 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 located on the west side of Hwy 2 (accessed from Mackenzie Rd)
  • 5 Downtown Red Deer. 75+ Retail businesses
  • 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).

Eat[edit]

As the hub of Central Alberta, Red Deer has a lot of great places to eat.

Asian[edit]

  • Blue Dragon. Hidden away in an industrial area, but well worth the hunt. Authentic Cambodian cuisine. Many dishes are spicy, so ask to make them mild.
  • China Ben, 7464 50 Ave, +1 403 343-2760. Chinese food, good buffet, fast delivery, always a coupon on the menu.
  • Le Chateau Restaurant, 5212-48 Street. Chinese.
  • Momo Sushi (near city hall, library and bus station). Very good sushi, inexpensive combination specials.
  • New Year Restaurant, 6712 50 Avenue, +1 403-346-2202. Very good Chinese food.
  • Ngoc linh Vietnamese, Gaetz Ave and 68 Street. Closed Sunday. Vietnamese.
  • Noodle House Vietnamese & Chinese, 4815-48 Ave.
  • Pho Thuy Duong (The Vietnamese Restaurant), 4 - 5108 52 Street (in strip mall near city centre), +1 403 343-2720. 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.
  • Red Deer Buffet. Lunch and dinner buffet, good selection of Chinese and Western food.
  • 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.

Western[edit]

  • Dino's Family Restaurant, 4617 Gaetz Avenue (downtown). Awesome pizza and pasta, 2 for 1.
  • Hickory Smokehouse, 4909-48 Street.
  • Las Palmeros. Mexican.
  • Pita Pit, 5111-49 Street..
  • Pizza 73, 4912-43 Street..
  • Saro's Greek Restaurant, 4914-52 Street.
  • Velvet Olive, 4924 Ross Street. Tiny venue for misc artists as well.

Drink[edit]

Cafés[edit]

  • 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.
  • Tim Hortons. Eight locations throughout the city. Two of these (4217-50 Avenue and 6721 Gaetz Avenue) are open 24 hours.

Pubs and taverns[edit]

  • 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.

Sleep[edit]

Hotels[edit]

Motels[edit]

Bed and Breakfast[edit]

Connect[edit]

The Red Deer area code is +1 403.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Red Deer
EdmontonLacombe  N Alberta Highway 2.svg S  OldsCalgary
WetaskiwinLacombe  N Alberta Highway 2A.svg S  Merges with Alberta Highway 2.svg
Rocky Mountain HouseSylvan Lake  W Alberta Highway 11.svg E  ENDS at W Alberta Highway 12.svg E


This city travel guide to Red Deer is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.