The Municipal District of Acadia No. 34 is part of Palliser’s triangle in east central Alberta, also known as the ‘dry belt’. Incorporated in 1913, the MD of Acadia is home to 493 residents spread across 1,076 square miles. With the Red Deer River on its south boundary, the MD of Acadia borders Saskatchewan to the east and the Alberta Special Areas on all other sides. The geography alone tells a story of a unique community and its continued survival and prosperity for over 100 years. The MD of Acadia is a small but strong rural community that owes everything to its proud and hardworking residents.
The first settlers of the MD made the journey from Broderick, Saskatchewan, in 1909, a distance of 150 miles, first settling on the Red Deer River. Others followed suit from Calgary and other areas, leaving behind shelter and security to settle a largely unknown frontier. Even having faced innumerable hardships, pioneers recognized the possibilities of the heavy land and rich soil in the MD of Acadia, which in turn has allowed generations to establish homes, communities, and farms. After more settlers arrived and the population grew, there was an effort to establish a local government. Thus, a petition was sent to Edmonton and was granted on December 8th 1913 establishing the Rural Municipality of Acadia No. 241 of ten townships was formed. In January of 1914, after taking two more townships, the Municipal District of Acadia was renamed from No. 241 to its present No. 34.
The troubles of the 1930s hit most of Western Canada hard, particularly drought stricken Southern Alberta. As a result, the Province of Alberta collected failing municipalities and organized them into Improvement Districts and Specials Areas, the latter of which exists today. However, after a long hard fight, the people of the MD of Acadia convinced the government to remain an independent Municipality, making the MD of Acadia the only county in the region to do so.
In 1932, as a drought relief measure, dams at the south and west of town were built. Further relief was doled out at $7.00 per family per monthly, with an extra dollar for every child, and relief cars were shipped in from the Federal Government. Initiatives such as these helped ease the dire situation and as the rain began to fall again, the development of power machinery followed soon after, allowing farms to grow more corp and become profitable, allowing the area to prosper.
An essential piece of any small rural community is the railway. Established in Acadia Valley in 1927, the local rail line remained operable until June of 1990. When first talk of disbanding the Acadia Valley railway in 1981 occurred, many argued that the MD, for its size, was one of the highest producing grain areas in Alberta. However, the decision was made for the railway to be abandoned, resulting in the Pioneer Elevator being demolished in 1990 after serving the area for 64 years.
Fortunately, most other community landmarks continued to exist and prosper, including the Community Hall, which was built in 1949 with major renovations in the 1970’s and 2015; the curling rink, constructed in 1976 and attached to the original arena, which was built in 1967 as part of the Canadian Centennial Project; the Acadia Valley Municipal Reservoir, which opened in 1986 after an intergovernmental financing effort between the Province and the MD; and the new arena, which was built on the grounds of the previous, and opened in 2013.
As with many prairie communities, water or its lack thereof, has always been a significant issue in the MD of Acadia. Thus, in 2000, the M.D. received grant funding, and along with ratepayer buy-ins, the Valley South Coop was built, providing a waterline that brought water to over 30 farms in our rural area. Then In 2014, the MD of Acadia received substantial government funding through the Water for Life Program to tie into the Henry Kroeger regional water line, which was completed in 2014.
The MD’s centennial was celebrated in 2012 in conjunction with several local farms celebrating their 100 years of operation. These festivities along with the many other events that occur in the MD of Acadia each year would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our many volunteers and local organizations. The Community Club, the longest running club in Acadia Valley, has been around since 1916. The Rec Club, Sunset club, and Knights of Columbus are other important organizations that have consistently improved our community and brought people together for many decades. These Clubs continue to donate both time and money to individual causes and events and to our local school, which is one of the pillars of our community.
The first school in Acadia Valley opened in 1915 and had only five students at first. In 1965, the present school was built and renamed Warren Peers School in honor of one of the founders of our MD. Every year, the hard working staff members of WPS help shape and educate our children and those from surrounding communities. And we hope these young people will take up the cause of community betterment that their parents and grandparents did before them. Acadia Valley is a place like no other, with over a hundred years of farming and community, there is a strong sense of community running through our veins.
The MD of Acadia has many benefits and advantages thanks to our land and the people who live and work on it; however, we face our fair share of challenges as well. With the decline of the oil and gas sector and economic volatility, people are leaving the area to seek opportunity elsewhere. Further, with an uncertain agriculture environment across Western Canada, farmers and ranchers continue to operate with a watchful eye on the weather and the market. To confront these challenges, we must diversify our economy and encourage young people to remain rural by having economic, social and cultural opportunities here for them. Thus, the MD of Acadia consistently tries to improve the tangible and intangible infrastructure of our municipality by promoting volunteerism and upgrading buildings, parks, and roads. We hope to improve our economy by working with our provincial and regional partners to realize such untapped potential as renewable resources, farmland irrigation, and tourism. Our community is strong and we intend to work toward making it stronger in every possible way.