In 1903, the then “North-West Territories” of Canada comprised a vast area which extended from Manitoba west to the British Columbia border and north to the Arctic Ocean. Federal policies were encouraging migration west, and by 1911 the population of Edmonton had reached a staggering 30,000! As population numbers increased, the Methodists in Edmonton saw the need for an institution of higher learning. And so, in 1903, the Edmonton District of the Methodist Church established Alberta College to provide high school and early university training. The school met first in the new Freemasons’ Hall on 102nd Street south of Jasper Avenue, until a new building could be erected.
With increasing population, the need for ministers in the west also increased, and in 1908 Alberta College decided to form a Faculty of Theology – at the same time making the decision to cross the North Saskatchewan River into the City of Strathcona and to join there in the foundation of Alberta’s new provincial university.
St Stephen’s College was the first building to be occupied on the University of Alberta campus. Under the name of Alberta College South it was originally a Methodist Theological College and residence – fondly remembered as “St. Steve’s” by thousands of graduates of the University of Alberta who lived in the College residence during their university days. The original St. Stephen’s College building was renovated in 1979 and now serves as the home of the Historical Resources Division of Alberta Culture. A new college was built in the 1950’s, and is situated next to the original building, in the heart of Edmonton’s University of Alberta.
St Stephen’s College has been an active part of Church and society in Alberta since the founding of the Province. As the Province has changed and grown, so has the College. Between 1968 and 1971, the College experienced a major transition in its mission. What has resulted from the vision and efforts of volunteers, staff and supporters is a singularly unique and effective model of ecumenical theological education.