History

The RID was incorporated on March 11, 1925. Prior to that time, the area had been part of the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company and later the CPR. This portion of the system was purchased from the CPR by the water users of the Welling, Raymond and Stirling areas. The area has been irrigated since July of 1900 when water began to flow through a constructed canal built under contract with the LDS church. As part of the contract the church was required to create two new towns having at least 400 inhabitants each, at the end of the contract. These towns are Stirling and Magrath. The Town of Raymond was founded a little later by a wealthy LDS industrialist and Philanthropist, Jesse Knight. The town was named in honour of his son Raymond. Mr Knight established the first sugar beet factory in Alberta located in Raymond and encouraged local farmers to support this new venture. Over the years the sugar industry has moved away from the RID but is still a vibrant industry in the Taber and Vauxhall areas where some 18,000 acres of sugar beets are grown and processed each year. Today the RID consists of just over 46,000 acres of irrigated land. The main crops grown here are hard wheat, alfalfa, canola and barley.  A history book covering the first 100 years of the St Mary’s project was completed in the year 2000. This is a comprehensive history including the MID, RID, SMRID and TID. It is available for sale at the RID office for those interested. Over the past 30 years the RID with assistance with funding from the Province has been engaged in rehabilitating the entire irrigation works system of the district. Currently a total of $670,000.00 dollars is spent on rehabilitation each year with the water users contributing 25% of these funds. The districts focus is to see all open ditch earthen laterals replaced with a closed pipeline system. The district is well on its way to accomplishing this goal. Due to the close proximity to the Milk River Ridge there is a great deal of gradient available that can be used to deliver water under gravity pressure without the use of pumps and energy to power them. Currently the RID is following a master plan that will eventually see at least 85% of its water users receiving gravity pressurized water to their farms. This will result in no longer requiring the use of fossil fuels to power unneeded pumps.