As Latter-day Saint colonizers moved into the southern part of Canada's Alberta province in the late 19th century, they established communities such as Cardston, Magrath and Raymond.
With continued Church growth, it was announced in 1913 that a temple would be built in Cardston. The Cardston Alberta Temple was dedicated by President Heber J. Grant on Aug. 26, 1923.
With the dedication of the Edmonton Alberta Temple by President Gordon B. Hinckley on Dec. 11-12, 1999, Alberta had a temple to the far south and another in the north.
The gap in the middle will now be filled as President Thomas S. Monson announced in October 2008 general conference that a temple will be built in Calgary.
Having three of Canada's eight temples in one province is understandable, according to Elder Richard K. Melchin, an Area Seventy who lives in Calgary. He pointed out that 22 of Canada's 47 stakes are in Alberta.
Elder Melchin and Calgary Alberta West Stake President Stephen D. Miller met at the Calgary temple site and talked during a Church News interview Monday, Feb. 16, Alberta's "Family Day" holiday, about the new edifice to be built in their area.
They explained the history of the site where the temple will be built, something Elder Melchin is especially familiar with because of his service in a stake presidency and as an Area Seventy for many years.
More than 15 years ago, Church leaders in Calgary were asked to watch for property for possible future use, Elder Melchin said. He added that 20 acres were purchased by the Church beyond the far northwest reaches of the city in anticipation of residential development there. It came, and the Church was able to work out an arrangement trading its 20 acres for 10 acres in a more accessible area in the Royal Oak and Rocky Ridge neighborhoods.
When the need for a meetinghouse arose in the past decade, with thought of a temple in Calgary then still a dream, the Church sought from the city and was granted zoning for two buildings on the lot, Elder Melchin said.
When grading was done for the Royal Oaks meetinghouse on the south side of the lot, the ground on the north side was built up a few feet higher, providing an ideal setting for the temple.
The lot is on a hillside where there are unobstructed views of the majestic Rocky Mountains in the distance to the west and the impressive Calgary downtown skyline to the south.
The priesthood leaders said the location is inspired for other reasons. Stoney Trail, a new ring highway around the city, which runs by Royal Oak, is nearing completion, as is an extension of a public transit rail line which will end at a terminal less than half a mile from the temple.
"Though the temple will be in a remote corner of the city, it is going to have good access because of the way the transportation is unfolding," Elder Melchin said.
President Miller added that most members in Calgary will be within 20 minutes of the temple, a dramatic advantage over the approximately three hours it takes to drive to Cardston or Edmonton.
The news of the temple was received with "excitement and jubilation," by members in Calgary, President Miller said.
Several were sitting by him in the Conference Center when President Monson made the announcement, he said.
"Because we were so excited, we missed the announcements of the second, third and fourth temples and finally tuned back in to hear about the Rome temple," he said.
Commitment to missionary work and temple service precede the temple, the leaders said. For example, President Miller noted, the bishop of the Royal Oak Ward which meets in the building adjacent to the temple lot, visited homes in the area and invited residents to a barbecue at the meetinghouse. About 50 came and enjoyed the activity, President Miller said.
Along with sharing the gospel, "members are excited about opportunities to serve in and care for the temple," he added.
Elder Melchin and President Miller agreed that though the members in Calgary love the beautiful temple in Cardston and have attended there faithfully, they are happy to now look forward to a temple in their own city.
States/provinces with multiple temples
(including announced/under construction)
Alberta, Canada 3
Chihuahua, Mexico 2
New York 2
Sao Paulo, Brazil 2