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Edmonton has a long, long history, with human habitation of the area beginning probably more than ten thousand years ago. Modern history of the area begins in the middle of the eighteenth century when the area first began to be explored by Europeans. The first permanent settlements in the Edmonton area were the rival fur posts of Edmonton House (Hudson's Bay Company) and Fort Augustus (North West Company), which were both established in 1795. These companies competed vigorously for the opportunity to purchase furs from the people of the First Nations, who traded them for items such as blankets, metal pots, guns, alcohol and beads. In 1821 the rival companies merged, putting an end to their bitter rivalry; the 1846 Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) Fort Edmonton has been reconstructed and is now a small part of Fort Edmonton Park.
Since only men were sent west to conduct the business of the fur trade, many fur traders from the Montreal-based North West Company (NWC) and the London-based HBC found Native wives and sweethearts. Their descendants are the Métis ("mixed blood") people. In the early 1840's, the first missionairies (Fr. Thibault and Rev. Rundle) arrive in Edmonton.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the Calgary and Edmonton Railway was constructed in the area. This brought increased travel in to the area and Edmonton became an official city in 1892. The area was particularly prosperous at this time as a result of the Klondike gold rush; 2,000 people came to Edmonton on the "Overland Route" to the Klondike River in the Yukon Territory.
Edmonton was named the capital of Alberta in 1906, to the dismay of Calgary to the south; a friendly rivalry has existed between the two cities from that time onwards. Shortly afterwards, it merged with a nearby city, creating a larger city which was divided by the river. By 1913, north and south Edmonton were connected by the High Level Rail Bridge traveling across the river.
Growth in the area continued unabated. In the middle of the twentieth century, a second type of gold rush came to the area. This time it was not gold, but oil, which was found in nearby Leduc in 1947. Industry thrived, as Edmonton became the industrial center of the Alberta petroleum business, while Calgary was the financial and professional hub of the oil industry. This continued through the end of the twentieth century when the oil industry there collapsed and poverty struck much of the Edmonton area, which had been more dependant on the oil industry than Calgary. Edmonton has been rebuilding since and focuses on tourism now as a major economic benefit to the area, although the recent oil boom in northern Alberta has also helped.
Travelers can read more about Edmonton by checking out the books listed at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g15... .