Exshaw – Wikipedia

Hamlet in Alberta, Canada

Exshaw is a hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Municipal District (MD) of Bighorn No. 8.[2] Located approximately 90 kilometres (56 mi) west of downtown Calgary and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) east of Canmore, Exshaw is situated within the Bow River valley north of the Bow River.

The hamlet was once located within Rocky Mountains Park later Banff National Park, with the original park entrance being only a couple miles east of Exshaw.


Sir Sanford Fleming named Exshaw after his son-in-law, E. William Exshaw (15 February 1866, Bordeaux – 16 March 1927; of Anglo-Irish descent; and sailing Olympic gold medalist at the Paris 1900 Summer Olympics), who with Fleming helped establish the Western Canada Cement and Coal Company. William Exshaw visited in 1908 when a banquet was held in his honour by the staff of WCC&C.

Robert D. Hassan, an American mechanical engineer, was hired in 1906 to build a mill in Exshaw, Alberta for the Western Canada Cement and Coal Company. He was assisted in building the plant by Alexander Graham Christie, 1880–1964, a mechanical and electrical engineering graduate from the University of Toronto, who later in 1909 became associate professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin, and in 1914 joined the School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Although the original cement plant was further west, the community has had a large plant for many years. The cement plant, now owned by Lafarge North America, is the main industry in the community. The limestone is quarried on the mountain north of the plant.

Exshaw townsite with plant from the east, looking west.

A number of other plants and quarries are in the area east and west. West is Baymag calcined magnesium oxide plant, and east, Graymont lime and limestone products plant.

Edwin Loder organized a company, Loders Lime, to take over lime kilns already in operation at the community of Kananaskis, approximately 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) east of Exshaw. Due to the need for more capital a new company was incorporated in 1906 and a new plant completed by 1908. A peak on Door Jam Mountain, above the hamlet and plant, is named after him. The Loder name is still connected with the area.

Roy Zeller (c. 1896-1947)[3] from Kitchener, Ontario, and married to Lucille, 1896–1982, established together a garage in Exshaw about 1926. During the summers Lucille ran the Bowfort Service Station and tea room nine miles (14 km) west of Exshaw, at ‘The Gap’. They retired to the New Westminster, British Columbia area in 1943 or 1944.

In 1935, Mr. Zeller recognized the three Doukhobor bandits, Posnikoff, Voyken and Kalakous, who had shot Sergeant T. S. Wallace, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, near Banff, which led to their capture.

Bruno Gerussi, a Canadian television actor who is best known for the lead role in the CBC series The Beachcombers, grew up in Exshaw.


East of Exshaw are smaller company town communities of Kananaskis (lime plant), which is not the recreational area of the same name, and Seebe (power dam), which is now closed but proposed for future residential redevelopment. A small ranch area, now mainly dude ranches, is also near the hamlet. Of note is the Brewster’s Kananaskis Ranch & Golf Course, which sits on the original homestead property of Bud Brewster and has remained in the family’s possession since the 1880s.

A number of smaller parks with camping facilities have also developed in the east Bow Valley. Directly across the Bow River south from Exshaw is the Hamlet of Lac des Arcs although no bridge connects the two hamlets.

A dam on the Bow River is east of Seebe.

The smaller Exshaw Mountain, 1783 m (5850 ft.), is north of the hamlet, and is locally known as Cougar Mountain. Across from the community south beyond Lac des Arcs is Heart Mountain, known as an easier scramble. People often marry outdoors on this mountain because of the heart shape.

Exshaw Creek, locally known and identified on the Highway 1A bridge as Canyon Creek, runs through the hamlet. In 1958, Alan McGugan, et al., identified a new species of the pelecypod Megalodon in a river cliff of Exshaw Creek and gave the new specific name M. banffensis, for the proximity of the Banff area.

The eastern portion of the hamlet is on the flood plain for Jura (pronounced Yurah) Creek. In 1937, P.S. Warren described outcrops on the banks of Jura Creek, naming these the Exshaw Formation. The Jura Creek valley is known to provide a good introduction to some Front Range geology, with the exposed formations including the Palliser (Devonian), Exshaw and Banff (Mississippian). The naming of Jura Creek was from misidentified Jurassic fossils, which are actually Paleozoic, not Jurassic, in age.

Grotto Creek, 3 km west, has pictographs, including a possible “fluteplayer” Kokopelli image that may be from the Flute Clan of the Hopi tradition.

The local area is known for wildlife, despite the industrial development. Duncan MacGillivray, with explorer David Thompson on his survey of the Canadian Rockies, first encountered a bighorn sheep, near Exshaw, on 30 November 1800, which led to the specimens collected and subsequent scientific naming. Mount MacGillivray, to the west of Heart Mountain, is his namesake.


In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Exshaw had a population of 449 living in 170 of its 185 total private dwellings, a change of 9% from its 2016 population of 412. With a land area of 1.55 km2 (0.60 sq mi), it had a population density of 289.7/km2 (750.3/sq mi) in 2021.[1]

As a designated place in the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Exshaw had a population of 412 living in 164 of its 178 total private dwellings, a change of 13.8% from its 2011 population of 362. With a land area of 1.58 km2 (0.61 sq mi), it had a population density of 260.8/km2 (675.4/sq mi) in 2016.[17]


Exshaw is the largest hamlet in the M.D. of Bighorn No. 8, which also includes the hamlets of Benchlands, Dead Man’s Flats, Harvie Heights and Lac des Arcs, as well as rural ranchland west of Cochrane. The M.D. of Bighorn No. 8’s municipal office is located in Exshaw.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d “Population and dwelling counts: Canada and designated places”. Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  2. ^ “Specialized and Rural Municipalities and Their Communities” (PDF). Alberta Municipal Affairs. January 12, 2022. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  3. ^ “Genealogy Information for roy zeller Ancestry”.
  4. ^ a b “Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and designated places, 2006 and 2001 censuses – 100% data (Alberta)”. Statistics Canada. July 20, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  5. ^ a b “Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and designated places, 2011 and 2006 censuses (Alberta)”. Statistics Canada. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
  6. ^ Fifth Census of Canada, 1911 (PDF). Vol. Special Report on Area and Population. Dominion Bureau of Statistics. February 27, 1912. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  7. ^ Ninth Census of Canada, 1951 (PDF). Vol. SP-7 (Population: Unincorporated villages and hamlets). Dominion Bureau of Statistics. March 31, 1954. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  8. ^ Census of Canada, 1956 (PDF). Vol. Population of unincorporated villages and settlements. Dominion Bureau of Statistics. October 25, 1957. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  9. ^ “Population of unincorporated places of 50 persons and over, Alberta, 1961 and 1956”. 1961 Census of Canada: Population (PDF). Series SP: Unincorporated Villages. Vol. Bulletin SP—4. Ottawa: Dominion Bureau of Statistics. April 18, 1963. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  10. ^ “Population of unincorporated places of 50 persons and over, 1966 and 1961 (Alberta)”. Census of Canada 1966: Population (PDF). Special Bulletin: Unincorporated Places. Vol. Bulletin S–3. Ottawa: Dominion Bureau of Statistics. August 1968. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  11. ^ “Population of Unincorporated Places of 50 persons and over, 1971 and 1966 (Alberta)”. 1971 Census of Canada: Population (PDF). Special Bulletin: Unincorporated Settlements. Vol. Bulletin SP—1. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. March 1973. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  12. ^ “Geographical Identification and Population for Unincorporated Places of 25 persons and over, 1971 and 1976”. 1976 Census of Canada (PDF). Supplementary Bulletins: Geographic and Demographic (Population of Unincorporated Places—Canada). Vol. Bulletin 8SG.1. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. May 1978. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  13. ^ 1981 Census of Canada (PDF). Place name reference list. Vol. Western provinces and the Territories. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. May 1983. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  14. ^ Census Canada 1986: Population (PDF). Alberta: Population and Dwelling Counts – Provinces and Territories. Statistics Canada. June 1977. pp. 12–1 to 12–2. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  15. ^ “Table 16: Population and Dwelling Counts, for Urban Areas, 1991 and 1996 Censuses – 100% Data”. 96 Canada (PDF). A National Overview: Population and Dwelling Counts. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. April 1997. p. 184–198. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  16. ^ “Population and Dwelling Counts, for Canada, Provinces and Territories, and Census Divisions, 2001 and 1996 Censuses – 100% Data (Alberta)”. Statistics Canada. August 15, 2012. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  17. ^ a b “Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and designated places, 2016 and 2011 censuses – 100% data (Alberta)”. Statistics Canada. February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017.

Further reading[edit]