Brooks is a town of 13,000 in the middle of a near-desert climate with a shortgrass prairie environment called the “Palliser Triangle”. This region is suitable for ranching but not for farming, and is home to the Lakeside Packers plant. Early settlers built a irrigation aqueduct that in 1915, was then one of the largest concrete structures in the world, spanning 3 km of prairie. Brooks has 105,000 hectares (260,000 acres) of irrigated farmland and 400,000 hectares (1,000,000 acres) of prime grazing land. The aqueduct was operated until 1977, and is now a National Historic Site as a monument to the early engineers and farmers. Brooks is also a center for oil & gas production, with 26,000 wells in the area. South of town, Lake Newell is the focal point of the area’s recreation, providing sailing, windsurfing, fishing, hunting, and camping. Kinbrook Provincial Park is on the eastern shore of the lake.
The town was named when the post office was named for Noel Edgall Brooks, divisional engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Calgary from 1903 to 1913.
Annual events include: Kiwanis Ice Derby at Lake Newell (February), The Gather-a big sale of 10,000 cattle (March), Annual Trade Show (April), Little Britches Rodeo (June), Brooks Kinsmen Rodeo (June), Eastern Irrigation Ag. Society Fall Fair (August), Pheasant Festival Week (October).
Brooks and District Museum
.4 km south of Trans-Canada Highway
This museum covers local history over the past century, including Indian culture, the RCMP, early ranchers and homesteaders, the railroad, and irrigation. The museum includes several restored buildings including log cabins, a blacksmith shop, a railroad station and a church. It also has complete one-room school from Wardlow, Alberta, equipped with 1930 school books, and a North West Mounted Police barracks. It also features the 1903 National No. 2 Table Tool Drilling Rig, used in early Alberta oil & gas exploration. The museum is open from May Long weekend to September Long weekend. Open from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm daily. Allow 1.5 hours. They are also the visitor information centre for the area, and operator of Kiwanis Campground.
EID Historical Park and Museum
Scandia (10 km W on Highway 1, then 40 km S on highway 36)
The museum of the Eastern Irrigation District (EID) features horse-drawn machinery, irrigation equipment, early household furniture and artifacts, as well as native clothing. This museum is open from May 15 to Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
Dinosaur Provincial Park/ Tyrell Museum Field Station
20 km NE of town: take highway 873 north to 544, drive east past Patricia.
The park’s badlands ravines have unearthed the bones of dinosaur bones, that are millions of years old. Visit the Tyrell Museum Field Station, where scientists are continually unearthing new dinosaur skeletons, and evn new species. A world record 35 species’ skeletons have been found at this location. The field station is open from Victoria Day to mid-October. Admission: $2 adults, $1.50 youth. You can also fly over the park with Quickway Aviation in Brooks
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park
13 km south of Brooks off Hwy. 873
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park on Lake Newell includes a 167-space campground for RVs and tents, and a concession stand. The area is also home to the Kinbrook Marsh and Sven Bayer bird sanctuaries.