Historic Boomtown

Boomtown communities sprang to life almost overnight around a century ago, spurred on by the expansion of the railways. This rapid development led to a very distinctive style of architecture, known as “boomtown”. This style was characterized by a decorative false front covering a more humble, gabled building behind it, typical of many buildings in the North American west at the turn of the 20th century.

Today, it is becoming more and more of a rarity to see it anywhere other than in the movies and your favorite John Wayne Western (except in Vilna, that is!).

More often than not, these little wooden boomtown buildings were consumed by the Great Fires that roared through many of Alberta’s early Main Streets. Luckily, Vilna escaped this shared fate. Its Main Street still boasts a variety of original buildings from the boomtown era, taking you back to the origins of the railway and the footprint it left behind.

Thanks to the efforts of many, we have preserved this history, the character of Vilna and its status as a true Alberta boomtown...


The Old AGT Building is one of Vilna's many recently restored wooden boomtown buildings.