Donalda has always been a small place but not without periods of growth and decline. It is interesting to trace its population since it was incorporated as a village in December 1912. By then the population was already 200.
Of course, at one time there was virtually no one living on a year-round basis where Donalda is located. Native people and later explorers and Métis came through but did not stay here, although Boss Hill on Buffalo Lake not far from Donalda became a major Métis settlement in the 1870s. But it was abandoned after the disappearance of the buffalo a decade later. Then came the first homesteaders in the 1890s and by the first decade of the 20th century, the countryside around Donalda grew full of immigrants, many from Scandinavia.
With the arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway in 1911, the village soon became a central place for farmers and ranchers in the area. The first official census information from 1914 shows that Donalda had boomed to a population of 250. There was, however, a decline to 150 during the First World War. After the War there was an increase to 275 by 1921, then another decline during the Depression years.
After World War II, the population of Donalda grew again, to an apogee of 318 people, probably a reflection of the general post-war boom. Since the 1960s the population of Donalda has remained relatively stable, between 230 and 278 people. The last census in 2011 showed 259 inhabitants. For information year by year, see: http://www.altapop.ca/villages/donalda.pdf
What will the future bring? Donalda certainly has the capacity to grow. But the economic base has been transformed, transportation is easier to larger centres, and the growth of Stettler and Camrose have created a critical mass for shopping and services making it hard for Donalda to compete. As a place to retire and for recreation, however, Donalda is a prime location.
Happy New Year to all our readers, and residents and visitors of Donalda!
Happy Birthdays these last days of December 2014 and first few days of January 2015 to Clay Awe, Ian Stone, Aveya Laye, Cindy Auton, Dusty Vikse, Amy-Ann Kotz, Duncan Charles, Harper Tantrum, Juston Clement, Raesha Berry. And to other birthday celebrants we may have missed who are bringing out the old year and ringing in the new, best wishes.