Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is a specialized municipality in southwest Alberta, Canada. Within the Rocky Mountains adjacent to the eponymous Crowsnest Pass, the municipality formed as a result of the 1979 amalgamation of five municipalities – the Village of Bellevue, the Town of Blairmore, the Town of Coleman, the Village of Frank, and Improvement District No. 5, which included the Hamlet of Hillcrest and numerous other unincorporated communities.

Crowsnest Pass
Municipality of Crowsnest Pass
Scenery in Crownest Pass
Scenery in Crownest Pass
Official seal of Crowsnest Pass
Naturally Rewarding
Location within Alberta
Location within Alberta
Coordinates: 49°37′30″N 114°28′5″W / 49.62500°N 114.46806°W / 49.62500; -114.46806Coordinates: 49°37′30″N 114°28′5″W / 49.62500°N 114.46806°W / 49.62500; -114.46806
RegionSouthern Alberta
Census division15
 - Town January 1, 1979
 - Specialized municipalityJanuary 16, 2008
 • MayorBlair Painter
 • Governing bodyCrowsnest Pass Municipal Council
 • CAOPatrick Thomas
 • MPJohn Barlow
 • MLARoger Reid
 • Land370.15 km2 (142.92 sq mi)
1,310 m (4,300 ft)
 • Total5,695
 • Density15.4/km2 (40/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
Postal code span
T0K 0E0, 0M0, 0C0, 1C0
Area code403 / 587
Highways Hwy 3 (Crowsnest Highway)
WebsiteOfficial website
Former municipalities and unincorporated communities of the Crowsnest Pass area
Former municipalities and unincorporated communities of the Crowsnest Pass area


The communities in Crowsnest Pass owe their existence to coal mining. The first coal mine in the area opened in 1900. Its ethnic and cultural diversity comes from the many European and other immigrants attracted to the area by the mines. Through the years, coal mining suffered from fluctuating coal prices, bitter strikes, and underground accidents. All the mines on the Alberta side of the pass closed throughout the 20th century as cheaper with the opening of safer open-pit mines on the British Columbia side of the pass. An operating coal mine just across the British Columbia boundary in Sparwood continues to provide employment for residents living in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.

Crowsnest Pass is known for tragedy. In 1903, the tip of Turtle Mountain broke loose and decimated part of the Village of Frank. The event was heralded as the Frank Slide). In 1914, the Hillcrest mine disaster occurred near Hillcrest, killing 189 people. Spring floods occurred in 1923 and 1942. Periodic forest fires have swept the valley, including one in the summer of 2003 that threatened the entire municipality.

The area was a centre for "rum-running" during prohibition, from 1916 to 1923, when liquor was illegally brought across the provincial boundary from British Columbia. The legacy is celebrated at the restored Alberta Provincial Police Barracks, which is now an interpretive centre.

On November 3, 1978, the Government of Alberta passed the Crowsnest Pass Municipal Unification Act, which led to the formal amalgamation of Bellevue, Blairmore, Coleman, Frank, and Improvement District (ID) No. 5 on January 1, 1979.[4] The new municipality was granted town status and named the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.[4] A review of the amalgamation in 1983 concluded that the unification led to improved municipal services and housing within the new municipality.[5]

In the mid-1990s, the adjacent ID No. 6 was carved up with portions going to the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 on December 31, 1994, the MD of Ranchland No. 66 on January 1, 1995, and ID No. 40 on December 31, 1995.[6] Crowsnest Pass then amalgamated with the remainder of ID No. 6 on January 1, 1996, while ID No. 40 was absorbed by the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 on the same date.[4] The amalgamated municipality retained the name Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and its town status.[4] It subsequently became a specialized municipality on January 16, 2008.[4] The purpose of the status change was to enable membership in the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties for increased alignment with its neighbouring rural municipalities.[7]


The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is in the southwest portion of the province of Alberta.[8] It borders the province of British Columbia to the west, the Municipal District (MD) of Ranchland No. 66 to the north, and the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 to the east and south.[8] The Crowsnest River, which originates from Crowsnest Lake, meanders eastward through the municipality.[8] Parts of the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve are in the northwest and southern portions of the municipality.[8]

Communities and localitiesEdit

The following are the unincorporated places that were in Improvement District No. 5 prior to the amalgamation that formed the municipality of Crownsest Pass.[12][13]


Federal census
population history
Source: Statistics Canada[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][3]

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass had a population of 5,695 living in 2,759 of its 3,403 total private dwellings, a change of 1.9% from its 2016 population of 5,589. With a land area of 370.15 km2 (142.92 sq mi), it had a population density of 15.4/km2 (39.8/sq mi) in 2021.[3]

In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass had a population of 5,589 living in 2,567 of its 3,225 total private dwellings, a change of 0.4% from its 2011 population of 5,565. With a land area of 371.44 km2 (143.41 sq mi), it had a population density of 15.0/km2 (39.0/sq mi) in 2016.[21]

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass historical population breakdown
Component 2016 population[22] 2006 population[23] 1976 population[24]
Bellevue 397 803 1,186
Blairmore 1,475 2,088 2,321
Coleman 1,545 1,065 1,543
Frank 85 263 201
Improvement District No. 5 1,364 1,257 2,041
Improvement District No. 6 723 273
Total Municipality of Crowsnest Pass 5,589 5,749 7,292


The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is home to parts of the Castle Provincial Park in the southeast and the Castle Wildland Provincial Park in the southwest.[8]

Within the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, one can find the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre (Provincial Historic Site), an interpretive display at Leitch Collieries (Provincial Historic Site) near the former Passburg townsite, underground tours of the Bellevue Mine (Provincial Historic Resource), interpretive signs at the Hillcrest Cemetery (Provincial Historic Resource) and both the Crowsnest Museum and Alberta Provincial Police Barracks interpretive centre within Coleman National Historic Site. Pamphlets for self-guided historical walking and driving tours are available throughout the municipality.

The area offers hiking, fishing and mountain-biking in the summer, and in winter snowmobiling, a downhill ski hill (Pass PowderKeg), and a groomed cross-country ski area, and is about 70 kilometres (43 mi) from major ski hills at both Fernie Alpine Resort and Castle Mountain Resort.


  • Blairmore elected Canada's first Communist town council under mayor Bill Knight during the Great Depression.[25][26]
  • Crowsnest Pass was the site of a train robbery in 1920.
  • Alberta's first female mayor, Clemence Jepson (1914-2010), was elected in Bellevue in November 1963.
  • The gravy recipe for Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken was developed here.[27]
  • The frontier town in Disney's 1985 film The Journey of Natty Gann was shot here.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Alberta Municipal Affairs (2010-09-17). "Municipal Profile – Municipality of Crowsnest Pass". Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  2. ^ "Municipal Officials Search". Alberta Municipal Affairs. May 9, 2019. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities)". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Location and History Profile – Municipality of Crowsnest Pass" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. October 15, 2021. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  5. ^ Walchuk, Walter (1987). Alberta's local governments: people in community seeking goodness. Edmonton: Municipal Administrative Services Division, Alberta Municipal Affairs. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-7732-0014-2.
  6. ^ "Interim List of Changes to Municipal Boundaries, Status and Names: January 2, 1991 to January 1, 1996". Statistics Canada. February 1997. p. 248. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  7. ^ "Municipality of Crowsnest Pass: Report on the Corporate Review". George B. Cuff & Associates Ltd. October 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d e 2021 Provincial Base Map: Municipalities (PDF) (Map). Alberta Environment and Parks. July 26, 2021. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  9. ^ 2011 Municipal Affairs Population List (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. 2012-10-05. ISBN 978-0-7785-9738-4. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  10. ^ "Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) 2006, Economic Regions: 4815007 - Crowsnest Pass, geographical codes and localities, 2006". Statistics Canada. 2010-03-05. Archived from the original on 2013-05-25. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  11. ^ Crowsnest Pass Historical Society (1979). Crowsnest and its people. Coleman: Crowsnest Pass Historical Society. p. 241. ISBN 0-88925-046-4.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Population of Unincorporated Places of 50 persons and over, 1971 and 1966 (Alberta)". 1971 Census of Canada: Population. Special Bulletin: Unincorporated Settlements. Vol. Bulletin SP—1. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. March 1973. pp. 204–207.
  13. ^ "Geographical Identification and Population for Unincorporated Places of 25 persons and over, 1971 and 1976". 1976 Census of Canada. Supplementary Bulletins: Geographic and Demographic (Population of Unincorporated Places—Canada). Vol. Bulletin 8SG.1. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. May 1978. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  14. ^ "Table 4: Population and Total Occupied Dwellings, for Census Divisions and Subdivisions, 1976 and 1981". 1981 Census of Canada. Vol. II: Provincial series, Population, Geographic distributions (Alberta). Ottawa: Statistics Canada. 1982. p. 4.1–4.10. ISBN 0-660-51095-2.
  15. ^ "Table 2: Census Divisions and Subdivisions – Population and Occupied Private Dwellings, 1981 and 1986". Census Canada 1986. Vol. Population and Dwelling Counts – Provinces and Territories (Alberta). Ottawa: Statistics Canada. 1987. p. 2.1–2.10. ISBN 0-660-53463-0.
  16. ^ "Table 2: Population and Dwelling Counts, for Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions, 1986 and 1991 – 100% Data". 91 Census. Vol. Population and Dwelling Counts – Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. 1992. pp. 100–108. ISBN 0-660-57115-3.
  17. ^ "Table 10: Population and Dwelling Counts, for Census Divisions, Census Subdivisions (Municipalities) and Designated Places, 1991 and 1996 Censuses – 100% Data". 96 Census. Vol. A National Overview – Population and Dwelling Counts. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. 1997. pp. 136–146. ISBN 0-660-59283-5.
  18. ^ "Population and Dwelling Counts, for Canada, Provinces and Territories, and Census Divisions, 2001 and 1996 Censuses - 100% Data (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  19. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  20. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  21. ^ a b "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2016 and 2011 censuses – 100% data (Alberta)". Statistics Canada. February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  22. ^ "2019 Municipal Affairs Population List" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. December 2019. ISBN 978-1-4601-4623-1. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  23. ^ "2009 Official Population List" (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. September 15, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7785-7978-6. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  24. ^ Population: Geographic Distributions – Census Divisions and Subdivisions, Western Provinces and the Territories. Statistics Canada. June 1977. pp. 3–41.
  25. ^ CBC article - Blairmore elections
  26. ^ Blairmore the Red[permanent dead link] - Crowsnest Pass Promoter, Nov. 9 2007
  27. ^ Crowsnest And Its People, Crowsnest Pass Historical Society, 1979

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit