Coal-Mining Town Beginnings
Taber was settled by homesteaders in the late 1890s and initially was a coal-mining town. Coal was mined in Taber and shipped to Medicine Hat, first on the Oldman River steamers and, later by narrow gauge railway. Mining declined dramatically in the late 1920s, however the extensive development of irrigation in Southern Alberta led to a major recovery in the early 1930s.
Founding of a Sugar Factory
Irrigation brought with it the production of sugar beets and by 1950, a sugar beet processing plant had been built. Roger's Sugar Ltd. (formerly, the Alberta Sugar Company) operates the only sugar factory in Alberta and it is the largest employer in Taber. The sugar factory is a landmark which can be seen clearly from Highways #3 and #36.
Naming of Taber
There are many stories of how the town received the name Taber, but the one usually accepted is that it was named for Mt. Tabor in Palestine. However, the story is told that in 1903, with the arrival of the first Mormon settlers from the USA, they established a hamlet at what was known then as Tank #77 on the Medicine Hat-Lethbridge Railway.
Later, with the establishment of a post office, it was decided by the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) to name the station Tabor. The station's letterhead and various forms came through printed Taber. When the settlement was incorporated in 1907, the name was changed to Taber, making the name of the town and the post office uniform with the records of the CPR.
A Centennial Celebration
In 2005, Taber was one of five communities that celebrated its centennial birthday concurrent with that of the province.
There is So Much More to Discover
Taber's history spans many decades, and there is still so much left for you to discover about our origins, industries, places, and people. If you want to learn more about the many pieces in Taber's history, the best source in Town is the Taber Irrigation Impact Museum!