On February 27, 1889, 33 visionary pioneers signed the certificate of formation, officially launching the first Edmonton Board of Trade. Edmonton wasn't yet a city and the economic base for our prairie community was not so distinctly rooted in energy but in agriculture. These innovative pioneers banded together with a common goal – they believed that Edmonton’s prosperity for the future lay in communication with and transportation to the outside world. From that day forward, the Edmonton Board of Trade, renamed the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce in 1928, committed to providing practical growth opportunities, quality services and strong member support to the community at large.
The Edmonton Chamber accomplished its first major goal of developing a rail line to our growing city by 1891. Two years later, after the lobbying for the rail link began, the first train pulled into South Edmonton. With this crucial rail line development, Edmonton was officially linked to the outside world by modern transportation.
In 1901, twelve years after its inception, the influence and support of the Edmonton Chamber was increasingly visible. The organization was involved in the development of Edmonton water and sewage facilities, fire alarm systems and the addition of a public school to support future generations of local entrepreneurs. Four years later, in 1905, Alberta was proclaimed a province and the Edmonton Chamber excitedly travelled to Ottawa to make Edmonton our province's capital. With city status, the Edmonton Chamber broadened its horizons and refined its services to keep pace with the growth of the new bustling metropolis.
By 1914, the Edmonton Chamber was actively involved in many aspects of our young, thriving city. The outbreak of the First World War interrupted economic progress in Edmonton—as it did throughout the world. The Edmonton Chamber had been instrumental in building a city its members could be proud to call home. Though it was not apparent to citizens of Edmonton at the time, the war marked the end of an economic era. Edmonton's boom days, when streets were lined with people buying land, fortunes were made and the city's wooden mansions were built, were over. For the Edmonton Chamber, this was a period of immense opportunity, which motivated its resourceful members to continue to work hard.
The arrival of the 1930s brought the Great Depression. Edmonton suffered along with every other community in North America. At the height of the depression, membership in the Edmonton Chamber dwindled to a record low of 119 members. Despite very low resources, the Edmonton Chamber promoted recovery by advocating public works projects, such as the construction of highways.
After the discovery of oil in Leduc in 1947, the Edmonton Chamber switched into high gear with a focus on economic growth and a clear vision for the rapidly developing Edmonton urban centre. The discovery marked the beginning of Edmonton's development as a refining and petrochemical centre and the base of the oilfield supply industry. As an important piece in the international energy puzzle, Edmonton’s new-found affluence spurred unprecedented growth in local business, private home development and the government alike.
By 1963, as a mature, sophisticated organization, the Edmonton Chamber continued to broaden its scope as it imagined new ways to serve its members. The Edmonton Chamber embraced diverse challenges, from air services to tax policies, to federal, provincial and municipal debt.
In 1978, the Edmonton Chamber moved to the sixth floor of the 25-storey Sun Life Place. For its first time, it had headquarters with ample space to host a variety of events, including executive meetings, press conferences, seminars, and networking gatherings. To support its communications and reach in this exciting period of growth, the Edmonton Chamber launched its own in-house newspaper, Commerce News.
The Edmonton Chamber underwent sweeping changes in the 1980s. The downturn brought on by the fall in world oil prices and intensified by the National Energy Program took its toll on member businesses. The resourceful Edmonton Chamber survived and, in 1986, set its sights on one of its most ambitious projects—an in-depth study on the privatization of government services. The reports in the study were a reflection of the Edmonton Chamber's long-held belief in free enterprise, which influenced the future of the Edmonton market.
In 2000, the Edmonton Chamber jumped into the 21st century with the launch of edmontonchamber.com. Keeping up with its growing membership, on July 8, 2004, World Trade Centre Edmonton, a downtown meeting facility for business, became the proud home of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.
2020 marks our 131st year of serving businesses in Edmonton. Looking back, the Edmonton Chamber is proud to have shared its many accomplishments with the distinguished, hard-working residents of this city. Looking forward, the Edmonton Chamber is determined to continue its work to create the best environment for business. The Edmonton Chamber has become a part of doing business in Edmonton, offering policy advocacy, education and networking events, growth opportunities and numerous services to its members. The Edmonton Chamber is proud to have been passionately involved in the formation of our great city and looks forward to a future filled with more successes that continue to build the place we call home.