The Town in Saskatchewan That’s Also in Alberta

On September 1, 1905, the government of Canada officially created the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, carving the two out of the Northwest Territories. The two provinces share the 110th meridian west as their common border, with Alberta to the west of the line and Saskatchewan to the east. The meridian also runs through the city of Lloydminster, as seen roughly in the map below (the red box is Lloydminster), dividing the municipality into two parts.

So which province is Lloydminster in?It depends.

Lloydminster was founded on November 25, 1903, predating the two provinces by nearly two years. The original settlers of the town, before choosing the location for Lloydminster, knew that the Canadian government was likely to turn parts of the Northwest Territories into a full-fledge province, but that inevitability wasn’t a concern for them. What the Lloydminster settlers didn’t know, though, was that the federal government was strongly leaning toward creating two provinces out of the area. Nor did they know that the powers-that-be were choosing the 110th meridian as the border. By the time the decision to create two provinces became well known and, ultimately, official, it was too late — Lloydminster was a thriving frontier town and home to roughly 500 people. And then it was split down the middle.

As a result, Lloydminster straddled the border, half in Alberta and half in Saskatchewan. When other towns have had similar problems with state or provincial borders, one of two solutions is common: either the border moves, allowing the town to remain together but in only one of the two new areas, or the town becomes two towns, each with their own government. Lloydminster opted for the first route and asked that the border running down the 110th be moved slightly so that the city could be entirely within Saskatchewan. But for reasons unclear, the Canadian government rejected the request.

So Lloydminster simply remained part of both provinces. And it also remained one town, with one city hall, seen below — and therefore, with one municipal government.


This, of course, causes a few problems. First, there’s the glitch with Daylight Saving Time. As the Canadian Business Journal explained, Alberta follows Daylight Saving Time during the summer, while most of Saskatchewan opts not to. It’d be odd for a town to be split across a time zone (and only for a few months a year), so Lloydminster pretends that all of it is in Alberta and switches. Similarly, when it comes to provincial sales taxes (PST), Lloydminster follows the Alberta rule — Saskachewan has a 5% PST while Alberta has a 0% rate — making the Saskatchewan contingent in Lloydminster the only ones not subject to the PST. But on the other hand, as Conde Nast Traveller notes, Lloydminster’s residents — including those on the Alberta side — partake in Saskatchewan’s publicly-funded and operated health care system, and the schools follow the Saskatchewan curriculum. In many cases, the town simply chooses the laws it likes most.

But that’s not always the case. As the Financial Post reported, there are some differences between the two sides. Telephone service, for example, is provided by different companies, and the Saskatchewan side is more expensive. The Saskatchewan citizens also pay a higher income tax and capital gains tax, and the companies in Saskatchewan pay more in taxes their counterparts in Alberta. As a result, housing prices and business growth are both higher on the Alberta side. And the two sides vote in different provincial and federal elections — the Alberta side has a representative in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, the Saskatchewan side has representation in its Assembly, and each side elects different members to the House of Commons.

Regardless, the dual-province nature of the town has become its defining characteristic. It is reflected in the town’s flag, seen here; in its official seal, here, and even in front of city hall, seen above. Those orange pillars aren’t just decorative — they’re designed to designate where the border between the two provinces runs. But they’re not quite in the correct place. Because Lloydminster was founded during an era before GPS and other precise surveying tools and techniques, the town’s main road doesn’t quite sit on the 110th meridian — it’s off by a few meters. But, its close enough to create the weird interplay between rules and municipalities discussed above.

AnchorBonus Fact: If you went to college, Saskatchewan wants you to move there — and may be willing to make it worthwhile for you, too. Depending on what type of degree you have, Saskatchewan has a program which gives “a rebate up to $20,000 of tuition fees paid by eligible graduates who live in Saskatchewan and who file a Saskatchewan income tax return.” The offer does not require that you attend a school in Saskatchewan or Canada, for that matter, although not all schools meet the requirement of the program.

From the Archives: Three places where borders create weird problems: Kentucky, US/Canada, and Netherlands/Belgium. And,

Take the Quiz: How well do you know the Canadian national anthem?

Related: A Tales of Two Cities.