Early in the 20th century settlers had established a community known as Round Lake on the south shore of Kimiwan Lake in the area near what is now the site of the Hospital. Wagon trails led from the community to Grouard on the east, Spirit River on the west, and north to Peace River. In 1913-1914 Leon Giroux and a Mr. Bloom each built a stopping place and Ernie Reitze built a log stopping place and restaurant in the Round Lake community. This indicated that there was a lot of business and traffic in this vicinity.
Information from old Dominion Land Surveyor Maps of the surrounding
area show that old trails existed in 1910, however we have no data to show how old the trails were in 1910, nor if the Klondike's used this route. An
aboriginal person by the name of Mr. Ed Emard stated that aboriginal people, including himself used to trap through the area, particularly around Winagami Lake and Kimiwan Lake. The aboriginals that trapped in the area called the lake Kimiwan, a cree word meaning rain.
In 1914 the town site was selected by officials of the Edmonton Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway Company, and named in honour of Dr. John K. McLennan whose titles included vice president, secretary treasurer and purchasing agent of the new railroad. In those days streets were not paved,
and the town site was one half mile away from the established community known as Round Lake. This meant businesses not located in close proximity to the railway station would lose out when it was muddy; therefore the three businessmen relocated their businesses to the town site selected
by the railway company.
Early in January 1915, the steel reached McLennan and the first train station
was built. On November 7, 1915 a first class passenger train was scheduled to leave Edmonton and arrive in McLennan the following day. In 1918 the railway company sold its first residential lot to Mr. Percy Jones and on this property the first house was built. To this day that house still stands.
On February 1, 1944 McLennan was incorporated as a village and four years later the population boasted and McLennan received town status on
February 11, 1948. A few murals still exist to provide a pictorial history of
the town. Each mural has an information scroll to provide a brief historical perspective of our community.
One of the Murals in McLennan, AB
Two History Books of McLennan & District have been published entitled Trails and Rails North, Volume I and II. Volume I was published in 1981 and the second volume in 1999. Volume II is available for purchase at the McLennan Town Office and the McLennan Municipal Library.