Edmonton ĕd´məntən [key], city (1991 pop. 616,741), provincial capital, central Alta., Canada, on the North Saskatchewan River. The center of the largest metropolitan area in Alberta, Edmonton, known as the Gateway to the North, is located in the center of the province between the fertile valleys of the south and the rich resources of the north. It is a major market center for farm and petrochemical products, and has an economy based on the production of oil, coal, and natural gas. Other industries include lumbering, meatpacking, flour milling, and dairying.

The city is on the site of Edmonton House, an important 19th-century trading post, and is also the site of the West Edmonton Mall (1981), North America's largest. The Univ. of Alberta (1906), Athabasca Univ. (1972), and other education institutions are in the city. Edmonton's National Hockey League team, the Oilers, was the dominant team in the 1980s, winning five championships (1984–85, 1987–88, 1990) under the leadership of Wayne Gretzky. Canadian football's Eskimos also play there.

The dominant center for the western fur trade during the 19th cent., Edmonton grew slowly in the 20th cent., relying on its agriculture-based economy. Before World War II it was only the ninth largest city in Canada, but the discovery (1947) of petroleum at Leduc, Redwater, and Pembina transformed Edmonton into one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. Its population increased more than sixfold from 1941 to 1987.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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