Apparently we can use some kind of built in WordPress web analytics tool to find out which search terms people enter into their web browsers to arrive at RETROactive. Curiously, over the past few days, there have been a number of searches for the origin of the name Andrew, which is a village in east-central Alberta. There is nothing on RETROactive that will provide that information, so I figured I would make the origin of the name of the Village of Andrew the subject of this post. So, anonymous searching person, I don’t know if you are still out there, but This One’s For You!!!

Andrew is a village located in east-central Alberta, approximately 70 km northeast of Edmonton and 45 km NNW of Vegreville. The community is named for prominent, early resident Andrew Whitford, who was a member of the large Métis, Whitford family that resided in the vicinity of Victoria Settlement. The nearby Whitford Lake, Whitford Creek and the hamlet of Whitford are all named for the family.

Andrew MapAndrew Whitford was born about 1830. It appears that he worked as a freighter and travelled extensively throughout the North West Territories. In 1885, he served as a scout during the North-West Rebellion, for which he, along with other scouts and militia members, received two adjacent quarter sections of land. Whitford selected the SE and SW quarters of Section 32, Township 56, Range 16, West of the 4th Meridian. He was widely acknowledged as a leader in the community; issues of the Edmonton Bulletin note many instances of his support for local charitable causes and his frequent support for orphaned children and destitute families in the Star/Whitford/Andrew region through the late 1890s. He also served as a founding trustee and later treasurer of the local school district, which was established in 1895 and called, fittingly enough, the Whitford School District No. 393. In the spring of 1901, a small pox epidemic broke out in east-central Alberta. Andrew Whitford contracted the disease and passed away on April 26. A short obituary appeared in the May 3, 1901 issue of the Edmonton Bulletin:

Died, at Whitford on April 26th, 1901, Andrew Whitford, aged about 70 years of small pox and complications. The demise of Mr. Whitford removes from our midst a man of universal respect and an old land mark of the west who could tell many reminiscences of early life between old Fort Gary and Vancouver. He was a trusted and worthy scout of ’85, and saw much of the stirring rebellion. At his death he was treasurer of Whitford P.S.D., April 26, 1901.

Main Street of Andrew, Alberta, ca. 1930. Photograph by Nicholas W. Gavinshuk, Provincial Archives of Alberta, G208.
Main Street of Andrew, Alberta, ca. 1930. Photograph by Nicholas W. Gavinchuk, Provincial Archives of Alberta, G208.

John Borwick, a long-time guide and early settler in the same region, operated a stopping house at NW28-56-16-W4, near the junction of the Winnipeg Trail and the Calgary-Pakan Trail. Following Whitford’s death, Borwick named the stopping house the Andrew Hotel, in honour of his friend and long-time compatriot. Alongside the Andrew Hotel was a store owned by Ed Carey. On March 1, 1902, a post office was established and given the name Andrew. Eliza Borwick, John’s wife, was the first postmaster. A small, but thriving rural community began developing around these three facilities.

In 1928, after much lobbying by area residents, the Canadian Pacific Railway built a line through the region and surveyed a town site at SE32-56-16-W4 on the north side of the tracks. The rural community of Andrew was located mostly on the neighbouring quarter section to the southeast. The Andrew Hotel, the post office, the store and most of the rest of the community moved to the new surveyed town site. Fittingly, the new town site of Andrew was located on one of Andrew Whitford’s original quarter sections. Two years later, on June 24, 1930, Andrew was erected as a village. According to 2011 Census of Canada, the Village of Andrew has a population of 379, down from 465 in 2006.

Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Place Names Coordinator


National Topographic System Map Sheet: 83 H/16 – Willingdon


53° 52’ 42” N & 112° 20’ 07” W

Alberta Township System:

Sec 32 Twp 56 Rge 16 W4


Approximately 70 km northeast of Edmonton and 45 km NNW of Vegreville.

Additional Resources

More information about the Village of Andrew can be found in:

Andrew Historical Society, Dreams and Destinies: Andrew and District, (Andrew: Andrew Historical Society, 1980).

Cathy Chorniawy, Commerce in the Country: A Land Use and Structural History of the Luzan Grocery Store, (Edmonton: Alberta Culture, Government of Alberta, 1989).

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