Early in the 20th century the area around what us now the town of Oyen was an empty land. The buffalo and the Indians were gone and the Palliser report had declared the area unsuitable for the growing of grain. But when the land was advertised as the Last Best West and the news of a railway arrived, settlers poured in.
In 1908 Andrew Oyen walked from Spokane, Washington to the Oyen district where he took up a homestead. He couldn’t spend the winter there as he had only a tent for shelter, so he worked his way west and found employment. When he returned in the spring of 1909 he was delighted to see a column of smoke coming from the side of a hill. Settler number two had arrived.
By 1911 a man called Billy Bishop had established a stopping place, a tiny store and blacksmith shop known as Bishopburg. However the railroad did not purchase Bishop’s land.
The Canadian Northern Railway purchased land from Andrew for the town site. In the fall of 1912, the railway arrived in Oyen and on January 17th, 1913, Oyen incorporated as a village.
Oyen is proud to bear the name of this fine Norwegian family whose descendants still live in Alberta.
The Oyen & District Historical Society has published 2 History Books on the Oyen District entitled Many Trails Crossed Here, Volume I and II. Volume I was published in 1981 and the second volume in 2007. Volumes are available for sale in the Oyen Town Office.
201 Main Street
Oyen, Ab. T0J 2J0
Ph (403) 664-3511