Historical overview of Innisfail

Historical overview of Innisfail

It doesn't matter if you are looking for the town of Innisfail Canada or Australia, we give you everything you wanted to know about both.

Innisfail, Canada’s Isle of Destiny

Located in Central Alberta, the town of Innisfail features scenic views of the Canadian Rockies and outdoor activities for the whole family from hiking and water skiing to fishing and horseback riding.


With a population of just under 8,000, Innisfail has a small town feel with the liveliness of a large city. It’s a surrounded by open plains and waterways. Napoleon Lake is located near the center of town while Gleniffer Lake, the Red Deer River and Dickson Dam are just minutes away. Getting to Innisfail is also easy as it is located on west side of the QEII Highway  along the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor.


A Rich History

Innisfail was first called Poplar Grove before the Canadian Pacific Railway renamed the area after the Celtic word meaning “Isle of Destiny”.


Englishman Anthony Henday became the first European to step foot in the area when he and a group of traders, accompanied by Cree Indians, visited in 1754. Sent by the Hudson Bay Company to trade furs, Henday and his party camped on the shores of Napoleon Lake.


The first settlers to the area arrived in the mid-1800s and were largely Icelandic and Danish. With its scenic views and abundant water and wildlife, these settlers decided to put down roots in Innisfail. You can still experience their heritage by visiting the Hamlet of Dickson or Historic Markerville just outside of town.


In 1886, a pair of Americans, Napoleon Remillard and Arthur Content, settled just south of Innisfail, which was then still known as Poplar Grove. Five years after their arrival, the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Poplar Grove and trains were running within a year later. An existing road was also extended to reach Edmonton.


With travel becoming easier to and from the area, more homes and businesses began to pop up. In 1891, the area got its first office and soon after, Poplar Grove was renamed Innisfail.


The town of Innisfail was officially incorporated on November 20, 1903. With vast open plans, the beef cattle industry began to thrive as did grain harvesting. To this day, Innisfail hosts grain elevators for many of the large grain companies. It also has one of Canada’s largest livestock auction markets.

A Variety of Attractions


The Innisfail area has plenty of exciting attractions for every member of the family. Opened in 1972, the Innisfail and District Historical Village preserves and shows off the history of the area. Open from the middle of May through Labour Day, there are self-guided tours available to allow for exploration of the grounds. The village also hosts special events including annual Canada Day celebrations on July 1 each year as well as afternoon tea each Friday from June to September.


Meet some famous movie stars … animal movie stars that is. Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail features bears, tigers, raccoons and porcupines that have appeared in movies such as Anchorman, Dr. Doolittle 2, RV, Air Buddies and more. The park is also the home of renowned bear trainer Ruth LaBarge. Ruth and her famous bears perform the Bear Awareness show twice a day at the park where Ruth shows off her exotic bears and provides interesting and helpful information. There are a variety of other daily shows at the park as well.


The park features wildlife indigenous to Canada as well as exotic species from around the world. It’s a great place to see and learn about Canadian wildlife and the park’s mission to help care for native, orphaned animals.


The Daines Rodeo Ranch is a working ranch and host of the annual Innisfail Professional Rodeo each June. This annual event has been ongoing for 40 years and draws cowboys from all over Canada and the U.S. The ranch does more than just rodeo as it hosts the Ivan Daines Cowboy Country Music Picnic in August featuring a variety of artists.


If hiking and camping are your thing, the town’s Parks and Trails System offer a variety of scenic walks and hikes while Anthony Henday Campground provides safe and expansive campsites.


Innisfail is also home to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Dog Training Facility. It is the only one of its kind in the country and is open from May to October. In addition to learning about how the RCMP trains its service dogs, the facility also offers private dog training and buys, sells and breeds dogs.


In July and August, you can pick your own strawberries at the Jungle Farm just north of town. Its greenhouse is open in May and pumpkin patch in the fall. The farm also offers hayrides and a corn maze and hosts a variety of events throughout the year.


Learn about the history and Icelandic heritage of Innisfail at the Stephansson House Historic Site and the Markerville Creamery. Go back in time and see where renowned Icelandic-Canadian poet  Stephan G. Stephansson wrote his poetry or visit the creamery that was originally built in 1902 and has since been restored. Guided tours are offered during the spring and summer and the creamery server authentic Icelandic food and ice cream at the Kaffistofa Coffee Shop.


With is scenic vistas, abundant recreational activities and rich history, Innisfail is the perfect place to find your own travel destiny.

Innisfail Canada

Innisfail Canada


Innisfail is a small town of around eight thousand people, located in the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor in central Alberta, Canada. Named after a Gaelic word for Ireland, (“Inis Fáil”, or “Isle of Destiny”), the origins of the town date back as far as October 1754, when Anthony Henday travelled to the area to meet with the indigenous Blackfoot people in an attempt to arrange trade. When Henday received an indefinite answer from the Blackfoot, he assumed his offer had been refused, and returned with the answer to York Factory.


History and Founding


For a century thereafter, no more trade was attempted, and the area remained unexplored by Europeans during that time, until the Rev. John McDougall began a trail that led from Edmonton to Morley, passing through the then-unfounded Innisfail, circa 1873. In the 1880s, stopping houses began to appear on and around the trail founded by McDougall, and Innisfail (then known as “Poplar Grove”) became known by travelers and tradesmen.


With the 1891 construction of a railroad, Innisfail became suddenly popular. Its first proprietor settled there in 1891, and by the early 1900s, Innisfail had formed into a village. Early business included several cafés, the Hotel Alberta, the Union Bank and the Opera House.


Today, the town boasts two landmarks to its heritage, namely the Anthony Henday Campground, named after the first European to explore the area, and the Innisfail & District Historical Village. The Village, which aims to “bring the past to life”, showcases faithful reconstructions of the original Innisfail buildings, and from June to September hosts Friday afternoon teas that are open to the public. During the summer a number of heritage events are held in the Village, including its own Canada Day celebrations, day camps and even ghost tours. Opened in 1972, the Village spans over two acres of land and contains seventeen buildings. From Mid May to Labor Day the Village is open to the public, though out-of-season viewings are available by appointment.


What to Do


Aside from the Village, Innisfail is home to a number of attractions and local parks, as well as several annual events. For budding cowboys, check out the annual Innisfail Professional Rodeo. Held every year in June at the Daines Rodeo Ranch, this 40-year-old tournament is a spectacle for all to behold, and hosts rodeo fans from all over the US and Canada. If you’re visiting a little later in the year and feel like wearing your dancing boots, August sees the ranch host a second annual event, the Ivan Daines Cowboy Country Music Picnic – a fun time for all the line-dancing family.


If you’re more into the great outdoors, the  fantastic Discovery Wildlife Park is definitely for you. This family-friendly attraction offers an insight into local and national indigenous wildlife. Open 7 days a week from May to October each year, the park is spread over 90 acres of land, and acts as a wildlife reserve and rescue center. Opened in 1988, the park aims to actively conserve wildlife and educate future generations about the importance of nature preservation. There are over 3 dozen species of orphaned animals housed in the park. These animals are bears, moose, wolves, tigers, deer and even porcupines, and daily presentations by trained wildlife experts and park rangers allow visitors to get up close with the animals.


However, it has to be said that one of the most popular features of the park has to be the Movie Star animals. The park’s furry celebrities come in the shape of bears, raccoons, tigers and porcupines, and have starred in films such as Anchorman, Dr Doolittle 2, and Grizzly Falls. A rare chance to meet some real, down to earth animal celebrities, the park hosts a twice-daily Bear Awareness show. Filled with famous bears that appear on numerous cast lists, the show aims to educate visitors on the behavior of bears, teaching safe practice in bear country.


If you’re more into domestic critters than roaring wildlife or the clopping of hooves, a cute and cuddly afternoon can be had at the RCMP Police Dog Training Facility. Open Wednesdays at 1.30pm May-October, the facility allows members of the public to watch as the puppies and dogs are trained for duty. This is the only training center for dogs in the whole of Canada, so if you’re in the area, make sure you don’t miss out on these Mountie-aiding antics.


Finally, if you’re just in Innisfail on business, or looking to unwind, why not try the Innisfail Golf Club! Home to 27 holes, the club was originally founded in 1924 as a mere nine hole affair, but has since expanded, increasing to 18 holes in 1986 and finally to 27 in 2006. A beautiful course set amidst coniferous forest, the course boasts a challenging game with a gorgeous Canadian backdrop.

Innisfail Australia

On the Cassowary Coast in Northern Queensland lies the beautiful town of Innisfail. Famed as one of Australia’s wettest towns, this tropical region is known for its banana and sugar industries, as well as gorgeous coastal views, and has actually only had the name “Innisfail” for around a hundred years, having been renamed from “Geraldton” in 1910.


Settlement History


Formerly home to the Mamu (an Aboriginal Australian tribal people), Innisfail has a bloody history, stemming from the territorial rivalry between the five indigenous Mamu clans and the European settlers who arrived to the area on the ship Maria in 1872. The Maria’s voyage did not have a pretty ending; it was actually wrecked on the Australian coastline, near the mouth of the Johnstone River, which is named after Robert Johnstone, a sub-inspector charged with rescuing survivors of the Maria’s crew. In an account of his first view of the area, Johnstone wrote in his diary:


“A most glorious view appeared – a noble reach of fresh water, studded with blacks with their canoes and catamarans, others on the sandy beaches; deep blue fresh water expanding to an imposing breadth” (1872).


However, although Johnstone admired the natural beauty of Innisfail, it would seem he did not favour the local Mamu clans. In September 1873, whilst escorting explorer George Dalrymple around the area, he reportedly attacked members of the tribe, in one of the first of many such conflicts between the indigenous Aboriginal people and the foreign explorers and tradesmen that invaded the area throughout the 1870s and 1880s.


After nearly two decades of bloodshed over foreign interest in Innisfail (mainly from European red cedar cutters and Chinese gold prospectors), the Mamu clans broke down, either simply dispersing around the area, or otherwise assimilating with the foreigners.


Today, the township is multi-cultural, with large populations of residents from both Aboriginal and European descent. As a small community with less than ten thousand residents, the area is served by only two secondary schools, though it is an extremely popular tourist destination and hosts at least four festivals annually (namely, the Kulture Karnival [sic], Feast of the Senses, Festival of Innisfail and the Feast of the Three Saints). The town is said to have a good sense of community spirit, and smaller events throughout the year – such as the Harvest Festival, the Innisfail Rodeo and the Annual Show – are designed to enhance the community feel. The town has managed to keep up its sense of community despite the devastation caused by tropical Cyclone Larry, which struck the area in March 2006.


What to Do


Despite its tiny population, Innisfail has a number of fun activities on offer, and is even home to an award-winning heritage attraction and caravan site, named Paronella Park. Opened to the public in 1935, the park is built on 5 hectares of land and surrounded by tropical forest containing over 7,500 tropical plants and trees. Located by Mena Creek Falls, the park hosts generous holiday cabins, a picturesque castle, picnic grounds, tennis courts, bridges and even its own tunnel, and has been awarded a multitude of state and national awards for tourism and heritage.


If you run out of things to do at Paronella Park, however, Innisfail still has a whole host of activities available. If you’re looking for more laid-back entertainment, a night at the historic Babinda Munro theater is an amazing way to take in some of the area’s historical architecture whilst enjoying some modern movie-going fun. This restored movie theater was originally built in 1956, but was crushed by Cyclone Larry, 50 years after its original construction. Restored in the aftermath of the cyclone, the theater is now up and running again, and boasts the largest theater screen in North Queensland.


As an area of outstanding natural beauty, Innisfail is a fantastic place for any nature-lover to visit. From the Great Barrier Reef, which is only a stone’s throw away in the warm ocean off the Cassowary coastline, to the Innisfail Crocodile Farm, the region is an explorer’s haven, and is popular with hikers and birdwatchers. If you’re not sure quite where to go, there are a number of tours available. Tours range from simple wildlife watching to full-on adventures involving island-hopping, snorkeling and even spear-fishing. For hunters, there are also guided trips that teach the art of hunting with bow and arrow, allowing visitors to hunt safely and legally, and to pick up the ancient skill of archery.


Finally, if you’re still not feeling entertained, Innisfail is also home to a beautiful composite 18 hole golf course. Opened in 1925, this historic course is set in lush tropical surroundings, and is described as some of the greenest golf in all of Oz. No doubt, this is a great way to relax and enjoy the tropical climate.

History and Facts of Innisfail Australia

History of Innisfail Australia 

The primary inhabitants of the Town of Innisfail region were constituted by five societies mainly from the Mamu people. They followed migratory lifestyles and lived in the rainforest, while moving from one river to another in string-bank canoes. Among these five societies were the Cassowary Tribe, whose trademark dresses of scarlet and yellow feathers distinguished them from others. They lived on the Tchuken Bora Ground off of the Johnstone River.

The people of Djirrribal or Jirribal can still be found today, living in their original territory of Murray Upper in the south of Tully. These people still follow their 40,000 years old lifestyle of hunting and gathering, and have also maintained their original language. All these Aboriginal people have protected their lands bravely and resisted against any foreign occupation.

It was in 1872 when the first incursion happened in the form of survivors of the shipwreck called Maria that reached the coast close to the Johnstone River. At that time few of the locals helped them, while there were few others who opposed. Robert Johnstone, who was a sub-inspector, arrived looking to rescue the survivors. He later punished the locals who were accused of abusing the survivors. He also wrote some rave reviews about the area. Later on, with the help of some vigilante Native Troopers, Johnstone attacked the Mamu people using rifle fire, and accompanied the explorer Dalrymple plotting the watercourse.

During the 1870s and early 1880s, when the European cedar cutters and the Chinese gold chasers came to this place, they were inflicted heavy casualties by the Manu people. After the suffering defeat, the Europeans once again sent their Native Police, but this time with much superior firepower they were able to overcome the indigenous people and dispersed the remained Mamu landowners.

Location and Approach

The Innisfail town has a total population of about 9000, and is considered the center of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, that contains about 19000 people. It can be found on the Cassowary Coast between Barrier Reed areas and the World Heritage Rainforest, which was named after a popular native bird.

Some Facts about Innisfail

Cairns airport is quickly developing into the fastest growing airport destination among local and international travelers. It sustains an all-weather airport as almost every other airline is using their facility.

As the road service is well equipped, almost every coach company offers travelling routes from north and south.

Innisfail is located on the Bruce Highway. So if you are interested in moving to the west with Atherton Tablelands, you have to use the Palmerston Highway. It covers huge productive land of 101,000 square kilometers that produces grains, mangoes, avocado, potatoes, and tobacco, along with several dairy products. You will also find a small production of coffee, and melons, which shows there is diversity of pocess,

The town is quickly transforming into the service center for major chain stores such as Super Cheap Auto, Betta Electrical, Harvey Norman, Retravision, Home Hardware, Warehouse, Country Target, Kmart, IGA, Woolworths, and Coles. There are also many national and international food chains operating in the region like KFC, McDonalds, and Subway etc. All these chains of stores and eateries have scattered across Cairns and Townsville, and are providing excellent service for the locals and visitors.

There is a deep water port located near Mourilyan Harbour that serves cargo and freight ships within the region.

The place became famous for growing sugar and producing timber, after it was first settled around 110 years ago. The economy is still based around these two businesses, as total revenues sore in the excess of $87 million for sugar, and $55 million for cane.

At the moment there are around 180 growers of papaya covering the area of 500 hectares. They have worked hard to ensure they maintain the quality standards that they are famous for. All papaya growers follow a chart that sets very high standard for the production of fruit. This fruit is labeled and sold under the ‘Innisfail Naturally Ripened’ red sticker, and has proved to be a highly successful.

The Ornamental horticulture is a developing industry, and lot of people are investing in the business, and are always exploring future export markets.

The aquaculture industry is also developing fast with the production of prawns and barramundi. There is a huge overseas market for its hatched prawns.

The banana farms in the region of Cassowary Coast are known for growing a wide range of horticultural yields. The warm weather and lot of water is the basic requirement for the production of fruits such as Lychee, Papaya, Rambutan, and Passionfruit. Farmers are growing high quality fruits on regular basis and sell them at above average market price.

In addition to the fruits, farmers are also planting a wide range of spices and vegetables like Turmeric, Lemon Grass, Pepper, Carambola, Black Persimmon, Longan, and Sapodilla etc.

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