Bow Island is an Alberta town located on Highway 3, about 33 miles west of Medicine Hat, 320 km southeast of Calgary, and 100 km north of the U.S. border.
The community was first settled in 1900 and became a village in 1910. Confusingly, north of the town of Grassy Lake (22 km/15 miles west) the confluence of the Bow River and the Oldman River form an Island called “Bow Island”, and just south of Bow Island a waterfilled depression in the surrounding area was called “Grassy Lake”.
In the early 1900s, the Town of Bow Island was one of the first towns in the province of Alberta to have natural gas wells, which were and operated them until the franchise was sold to a private company. In the early 1950’s irrigation was extended to the Bow Island area creating over 110,000 acres of highly productive farmland.
The first pivot sprinkler system in Canada (they water a circle of farmland, pivoting around a central point., all powered by the water flowing through the sprinkler system) was erected on a farm near Bow Island in 1961. A decade later, the first linear sprinkler systems in Canada were put into operation in the Bow Island area, and in 1982 a completely automated distribution system was installed by the St. Mary’s River Irrigation District (SMRID).
Bow Island Attractions
Pinto MacBean Statue
See the 18-foot-high statue of the “Pinto MacBean” mascot, adjacent to Highway No. 3, showcasing the importance of the edible bean industry to the town. Several agri-processing companies are located here including Bow Island Dry Edible Bean Plant, and Alberta Sunflower Seeds Ltd. (Spitz).
Forty Mile Reservoir
The town’s Forty Mile Reservoir is popular for water sports, fishing, and hunting. There are plenty of family activities at the seasonal Bow Island Swimming Pool with AquaClimb Wall, the Bow Island Golf Club has nine holes, or park your RV at Centennial Park Campground.