History of Mill Woods
The area now known as Mill Woods was, during the early 1800s, inhabited by the Papachase Indian reserve. When the reserve was forsaken for other localities, the area became part of a large agricultural segment known as Bruederfeld. Many settlers, mostly from Russia and Germany, arrived in the late 1800s to settle the area of Mill Woods. They ran a communal farm and had many ties to Bruederheim and the Moravian Church.
In 1969, to meet the growing needs for affordable housing, the City of Edmonton began its annexation of lands in the Bruederfeld area. In 1970, the City in conjunction with the Alberta Housing Corp., put into action a development plan and began purchasing nearly nine square miles of land (over 4,425 acres) from private owners in southeast Edmonton for “Mill Woods”. It received its name from Mill Creek, which drained the area.
The new community, highlighted in the Mill Woods Development Concept Report (1971), was intended “to create a showpiece of new urban growth that would be achieved by incorporating sound principles of social, economic and physical planning.” It was designed for low to middle income families and developed from scratch to be a community onto itself. Residential construction in the area begun in 1972 and accelerated through the 1970s. (Land sold at relatively low prices was in great demand and created a mad rush of would-be purchasers, some of whom were camped before the land sale office.) Growth in the early 1980s was slow due to a downturn in the economy, but accelerated again in the late 1980s. By 1987 the community numbered 65,000 residents and in 2003 exceed 86,000! The current ‘joke’ in Mill Woods is that if it separated from Edmonton, it would easily become Alberta’s third largest city. Amazingly, the Mill Woods population reflects an incredible diversity of races, languages, cultures and religions. (The area’s population represents over 85% of the world’s cultures and languages.)
The growth of Mill Woods has greatly benefited Edmonton. Revenues from the Mill Woods development have been invested in the Mill Woods Reserve Fund, which provided $118 million to finance a number of important city-wide initiatives. The fund has loaned the City money to purchase Century Place, Chancery Hall and the New City Hall.