‘Ponoka’ means elk in Blackfoot. The community originated in 1891 as a delivery point along the Calgary-Edmonton Trail. When the CPR arrived in 1895, the town site was known simply as “Siding 14” until an unknown railway employee wrote the name “Ponoka” on a sign to identify the community. Ponoka was incorporated as a town in 1904 and grew as settlers arrived from eastern Canada and the American Midwest. The community of Ponoka boasts a vibrant, rural lifestyle in the heart of central Alberta. Nestled in the picturesque and lush Battle River Valley, Ponoka is still one of Alberta’s ‘best kept secrets’. The Town of Ponoka is home to some 6,500+ residents that enjoy the clean and scenic rural charms.
Ponoka features many wonderful attractions and facilities. Ponoka provides family entertainment year round. Quality of lifestyle is a priority in Ponoka. This is supported and enhanced by the many recreational and cultural facilities – ice arena, curling rink, indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, racquetball courts, ball diamonds, soccer pitches, horse shoe pitches, a bowling alley, fitness centers, parks and picnic areas, and top notch rodeo/equine facilities and events. Ponoka also has a bingo hall and a movie theatre. For the golfing enthusiasts, Ponoka boasts two top notch golf courses - Wolf Creek Golf Resort (27 holes) & the Ponoka Community Golf Club (18 holes).
Hikers, joggers and bikers can enjoy the paved trail system along the beautiful Battle River Valley. J.J. Collette Natural Area is also just south of Ponoka and features 635 acres of rolling landscape with trails for orienteering, hiking and nature observation. RV parking and camping is available in the Stampede Park. 100 serviced stalls, and 100 unserviced stalls are available from May to September.
For the history buff, Ponoka has the Fort Ostell Museum, which houses pioneer artifacts and memorabilia of the Ponoka area. The museum is located beside Centennial Park which also features mini-golf and the world’s largest bucking horse – ‘The Legacy’. Check it out! Also in Ponoka, located on the Stampede Grounds, is the Cowboy Museum. Discover some history of the Ponoka Stampede.
Residents and tourists alike can ‘Cowboy Up’ in Ponoka at the Annual Ponoka Stampede which will run from the end of June to the July long weekend. Since 1936, rodeo fans and professional cowboys have headed to the Ponoka Stampede. Check out the very entertaining raw rodeo action with six days of professional cowboys and cowgirls at their best. Experience the thrill of the amazing Chuckwagon Races as well. For the urban explorer, experience Ponoka’s unique shops and restaurants. Discover Ponoka’s historic downtown. Many buildings have been restored to their former glory. The quaint, turn-of-the-century streetscape is a delight to explorers and niche market shoppers.
Various Agri-Tourism events are also characteristics of the Ponoka community. This includes a County Fair in August, Farmers Market from May to September, and various equine events. Other community events include the Ultimate Car Show in July, a Vintage Bike Rally in July, and Downhill Soapbox Derby in September.
Ideally located along the thriving Calgary-Edmonton Corridor - one of the fastest growing markets in Canada, Ponoka is positioned for growth. Ponoka’s strong community lifestyle appeal and ideal location offers opportunities for all. Business and industry benefit from the outstanding access to the Queen Elizabeth II Highway. Calgary is only 2 hours south, Edmonton is 1 hour north, and Red Deer is just 30 minutes south. An added feature is the local industrial airport with CANPASS, and the Edmonton International Airport that is only 45 minutes away.
Ponoka is a service hub for both the oil and gas industry and the agricultural sector. Ponoka also has an innovative and thriving manufacturing sector. Ponoka is also known for its leading edge mental health and brain injury centre.
Ponoka is on the move and has something for everyone. Make Ponoka a destination. We welcome you to discover what Ponoka has to offer!!
The Energy Sector
Lying in the heart of energy-rich Central Alberta, Ponoka is home to a number of energy resource services and supply companies who have located close to the source of the abundant oil and gas reserves. One of those energy-based industries is EnCana, which has its regional office for all of Central Alberta located in Ponoka.
Another major player in the energy sector that makes Ponoka home is Kinetic Projects, a leader in the manufacturing of compressors, compressor stations, pump stations and pipelines, all of which are crucial to the success and future growth of the western Canada oil and gas industry. Kinetic Projects was the first tenant of Ponoka’s expanded Froman Industrial Park after it outgrew its initial location and, like the expanding sector it serves, soon had to expand its own 2,000 square meter manufacturing and warehouse complex.
In addition to energy resources exploration, development and manufacturing, Ponoka is also home to transportation services which work closely with the oil and gas industry, hauling supplies into the oil patch and gas fields of Central Alberta as well as transporting products from the wellhead.
Agriculture used to be summed up as farming and ranching. Faced with economic downturns resulting from international market pressures and trade policies, farmers have had to diversify to the point where traditional farming and ranching practices have been expanded to include ventures including the production of more exotic stock such as emus, bison, ostrich and elk.
Ponoka sits at the center of two distinct soil zones. The rich, black soils to the east consistently yield above-average grain crops, while the grey wood soils to the west are ideal for producing barley, forage crops and for grazing cattle. The combination of these soil groups makes the agricultural land in Ponoka County a valued and highly sought after natural resource which adds greatly to the overall economic benefit of the community.
Current estimates place farming capital in the Ponoka area at a market value in excess of $1 billion annually with the greatest percentage of the amount being attributed to the livestock industry – a major mainstay for the agricultural sector of the traditional economy of Central Alberta.
Vold Jones Vold Livestock Auction (VJV) has been an integral part of the Ponoka picture for more than 40 years. The renowned auction has established an international reputation as being one of North America’s leading markets and is headquarters for the Canadian Satellite Auction.
With an expert staff of 60 people, VJV is recognized as being the largest livestock auction market in Canada, selling more than 222,000 head of cattle through its system of three sales rings and its state-of-the-art sales technology. The efforts and success of VJV have served to establish Ponoka as the “Cattle Capital of Canada.”
Recent years have seen dramatic increases in pork production as well as expansion of dairy, sheep, poultry, horses and honeybees reflecting the wide, modern-day diversification in agriculture.
The importance of the livestock sector is reflected in the crop production trends, with barley, mainly for feed purposes, being the dominant crop. Close to 570,000 hectares are being seeded to barley in the direct market area on an annual basis. Other crops grown in the Ponoka area include canola, wheat, oats, field peas and rye.
Another aspect of agricultural diversification is the existence of market gardens, nurseries and greenhouses that exist throughout Ponoka County as well as specialized operations including the Meyer Seed Potato Farm operation located just north of Ponoka.
Commercial diversification throughout Ponoka County is reflected in the Town of Ponoka’s business support community including value-added agricultural industries that compliment the farming community. Two new feed plants are among the industries located in the town’s industrial areas.
Agricultural consumption of fuel, fertilizer, equipment, livestock, veterinary services and associated goods and services contribute an estimated $120 million per year to the Ponoka economy.
The Town of Ponoka and Ponoka County thrive on a comprehensive transportation system that includes road, air and rail links, providing access to suppliers and markets alike.
One of Canada’s major international airports, Edmonton International, is 45 minutes north on Highway 2, connecting Ponoka to the rest of the work via numerous daily domestic and international flights. For those requiring surface transport, Western Canada’s primary north-south transportation link – Highway 2 – travels past Ponoka’s front door, and provides easy access to a much larger marketplace as well as prompt delivery from suppliers located beyond the border of the community.
Highway 2, which runs from the Canada-US border through Calgary, past Ponoka to Edmonton and points north (Peace River and Grande Prairie), has been long established as an integral part of Canada’s ground transportation system. It is designed to accommodate commuter, tourist and commercial/industrial traffic, including multi-trailer and semi-transports. Several transport companies, Greyhound bus lines and courier companies provide service to Ponoka on a regularly scheduled daily basis.
Ideally located, Ponoka is easily accessible from five other major urban centers – Edmonton, Leduc, Camrose, Wetaskiwin, and Red Deer, all of which lie within a 100 kilometer radius, while Calgary is only 200 kilometers to the south.
Highway 2A runs parallel to Highway 2 and provides a more scenic, historical and slower paced route for tourism and local services linking Leduc, Wetaskiwin, and Hobbema. For access points east and west, Highway 53 passes through Ponoka, providing that all important link to agriculture, oil and gas resource areas, commercial and tourist attractions in both directions.
Business and recreational visitors often use the 950 meter (3,097 feet) lighted, paved runway at Ponoka Industrial Airport. “Labrie Field” is located just south of Ponoka about 3 km on Highway 2A. An added advantage of Ponoka's airport is that it is the only airport in central Alberta with the CANPASS service - which allows flyers to clear customs quickly.
A short drive south down Highway 815 takes you into the Joffre/Prentiss area, the pulse of the expanding petrochemical industry with the multi-million dollar developments of Nova Chemicals at Joffre and DOW Chemical at Prentiss. Both sites create house and employment in Ponoka with the easy 25-minute commute.
Ponoka is an excellent retail location with a great variety of ultra-modern grocery outlets, hardware, pharmacy, and restaurants, clothing and general purpose as well as specialty stores all catering to the growing needs of a growing community and rural area.
Ponoka is also home to a number of major financial institutions with local branches in Ponoka, including Community Savings Credit Union, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank, and ATB Financial. These institutions provide financial leadership for Ponoka and area.
For those who may not meet traditional financial institution requirements, the East Parkland Community Futures and Business Development Corporation, the Agriculture Finance Services Corporation (AFSC) and the Alberta Farm Services Corporation all provide alternative financing for area residents with special or unique financial assistance, and for residents who possess and display and entrepreneurial spirit in establishing new business ventures. East Parkland CBDC, which provides special funding for young people, is advanced through the highly successful Fortune Hunters program. This program allows youth interested in the business world the opportunity to apply for start-up money for short-term summer business ventures. These funding sources are able to provide specialized business counseling services and programs in support of new enterprises.
Ponoka is also home to a community newspaper, the Ponoka News, which is “dedicated to the promotion of Ponoka” through its weekly publication schedule, reaching a primary circulation market of 19,000. The broader, trading area for many commercial/industrial enterprises based in Ponoka encompasses an estimated 70,000 people. The more aggressive entrepreneur can reach a market of one million people.
The Ponoka area embraces the Alberta Advantage, making the most of an aggressive provincial apprenticeship program that produces the highest percentage of workers with a post-secondary education in Canada. By capitalizing on the Alberta Advantage, Ponoka is able to offer a core of highly skilled trades people.
A substantial number of members of the local labor force are involved in agriculture and agricultural-related operations accounting for approximately 23 per cent of the area’s labor force. The health/social services sector accounts for approximately 11 per cent while education and other services accounts for approximately 7 per cent each. These are the top five groups of employers in the area.
The largest percentage of health care/social service workers in Ponoka and area find The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury (formerly named Alberta Hospital Ponoka) to be their place of employment. One of Canada’s major psychiatric hospitals, The Centennial Centre is recognized as a world leader in the area of brain injury research and rehabilitation treatment. Its on-site nursing school works closely with the Grant MacEwan Community College School of Psychiatric Nursing program.
The Ponoka Aquaplex is equipped with a diving tank, 25 meter pool, wading pool, whirlpool and sauna. Recently the pool has been redesigned and upgraded with the help of the community, businesses, municipal and provincial governments. The Aquaplex provides lessons for all ages, early bird swims, adult swim, family swim and many other swimming programs designed for the community. The Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex houses two ice surfaces, an outdoor rink, six curling sheets, two racquetball courts, a handicraft room, concession booth and licensed lounge. The Complex is also home to the annual Black Elk Hockey Camp in August and the Ponoka Farmers Market from May to October each year. The winter months are very busy hosting ice surf time to figure skating, minor hockey, curling, skating programs and family skates.
The Hamilton Skateboard Park offers hours of fun for the 'boarders' in Ponoka. A community effort made possible the building of the park in 2007.
There are approximately 12 ball diamonds, five soccer pitches, a 400 meter track and field facility and several horseshoe pits in and around Ponoka. The Diamond Willow Trail System is a great way for walkers, cyclists and in-line skaters to enjoy trees, open space and wildlife along the beautiful Battle River valley. The 6 km of paved path, which is now part of the Trans Canada Trail, wanders along the valley amongst the waterfowl, songbirds and wildlife.
The Ponoka Community Golf Course is billed as Ponoka’s 'best kept secret'. This challenging 18-hole course is set among the lush trees and rolling terrain. This is an excellent course for any golfer.
For a Scottish-links style course you only need to drive 10 minutes south of Ponoka to Wolf Creek Golf Resort. Wolf Creek is the home of the annual Henry Singer Alberta Open Tour. This 27-hole course will tests your skills as it is rated as #18 of the Top 20 Courses in Canada.
Ponoka has several community organizations and service clubs, as well as many more recreation and sports programs available to residents. Please contact 403-783-4431 for more details and a complete listing.
Ponoka Jubilee Library
The Ponoka Jubilee Library is a member of the Parkland Library System. Located in Ponoka’s downtown, the Jubilee Library offers a variety of services to the Town residents.
Ponoka is home to the Fort Ostell Museum which is a tribute to Ponoka's past and is located in the Lion’s Centennial Park. Also of interest is the Cowboy Museum which is a recount of the story of Ponoka's rodeo cowboys and cattlemen. It is located on the Stampede grounds in the Tourist Booth.
Special Annual Events/Attractions
- Annual Ponoka Stampede
- Farmers’ Market
- Spring 'Twist-Off' Bullarama
- Great Ponoka Car Show
- Vintage Bike Rally
- Annual Downtown Giant Garage Sale
- County Fair & Horse Show
- Black Elk Hockey Camp
- Downhill Soapbox Derby
Ponoka is in the David Thompson Health Region. The Ponoka Hospital & Care Centre is an acute care and long-term care facility providing services to the entire region. The hospital is fully equipped for general medicine, obstetrics, surgery, pediatrics and emergency use. It is supported by an in-house laboratory and radiology facilities. Ponoka also has 2 medical clinics, a medical laboratory, physiotherapy clinics, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, a psychologist, a denturist, a Community Health Centre, a mental health clinic and a 64 room seniors lodge, and the 72 Bed Northcott Care Facility. The Centennial Centre for Mental Health & Brain Injury (formerly known as Alberta Hospital Ponoka) is a nationally renowned psychiatric and brain damage treatment centre and educational facility.
Programs include adult psychiatry, substance abuse, rehabilitation, as well as treatment and brain injury. Education Daycare/Nursery Ponoka has daycare that is open to children from infancy to school age, as well as day homes which provide specialized child care for working parents.
Ponoka is part of the Wolf Creek Public School Division #72, with headquarters in Ponoka. Schools in Ponoka include:
- Crestomere School [1-9]
- Diamond Willow Middle School [6-8]
- Mecca Glen ECS School
- Mecca Glen School [1-9]
- Ponoka Central ECS School
- Ponoka Composite High School [9-12]
- Ponoka Elementary School [1-5]
- Ponoka Outreach School
- Primary & Elementary School
- Ponoka/Rimbey Adult Learning Center. Separate Schools
- St. Augustine Catholic School Private Schools
- Adventist School
- Ponoka Christian School
Sources: Information in this profile has been provided from a variety sources including AlbertaFirst.com Ltd. and each community’s website. If you find inaccuracies or information you feel needs changing, please contact us directly at George@TheTeam.com stating the correction and the source of your information. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy, currency and reliability of the content and data, it is not warranted to be correct.