In the late 1890s, Americans from all across the United States discovered western Canada. They were looking for good, reliable crop and range land, and they came by the thousands, in trains and in wagons, with all their possessions, and they scattered far and wide across Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In a few short years, the American population in the region skyrocketed. In 1894, records showed just 50 Americans living in western Canada; by 1905, that number had jumped to 105,000. While small consular agencies had been set up in Lethbridge, Fernie and even Grand Forks, British Columbia to handle trade transactions on the rail and stage lines, there was no official U.S. presence in any of the region’s larger communities. Local leaders began calling for Washington to consider setting up shop in a bigger, more permanent way.
The Morning Albertan and the Daily Herald newspapers played a large part in this call for official representation. In several reports between 1905 and 1906, the papers covered the influx of Americans to the region. In early 1906, the Daily Herald reported that the United States House of Representatives had authorized the State Department to appoint a Calgary-based consul. Although there were also discussions considering Regina and Edmonton as possible locations for the office, Calgary was ultimately chosen for its proximity to rail lines and the large number of Americans already living and doing business in the quickly-growing community.
The Consulate General in Calgary opened its doors in 1906, one year after both Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces. Mr. E. Scott Hotchkiss was appointed Consul, and he arrived in July to look for suitable office space. By September 1906, the office was operating with Consul Hotchkiss and one half-time assistant.
Today, the Consulate has a staff of approximately 80 staff members made up of both American officers, and locally hired Americans and Canadians. It counts as part of its team colleagues in U.S. Customs and Border Protection at airport pre-clearance facilities in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary.