Brooks is a city in southeast Alberta, Canada, surrounded by the County of Newell. It is located on Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) and the Canadian Pacific Railway, approximately 186 km (116 mi) southeast of Calgary, and 110 km (68 mi) northwest of Medicine Hat. The city has an elevation of 760 m (2,490 ft).
The area that is now Brooks was used as a bison-hunting ground for the Blackfoot and Crow. After Treaty 7 was signed in 1877, homesteaders moved into the area to begin farming. Before 1904, the area still did not have a name. Through a contest sponsored by the Postmaster General, the area was named after Noel Edgell Brooks, a Canadian Pacific Railway Divisional Engineer from Calgary.
Brooks was incorporated as a village on July 14, 1910, and then as a town on September 8, 1911. Its population in the 1911 Census of Canada was 486.
In the 1996 Census, the population of Brooks reached 10,093 making it eligible for city status. Brooks incorporated as a city on September 1, 2005 when its official population was 11,604.
In 2010, Brooks celebrated the centennial of its incorporation as a village in 1910.
Located in the steppe region known as the Palliser’s Triangle, Brooks has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk). Winters are dry and cold, with little snowfall compared to the rest of Canada. Chinook winds, though less common than in areas west and especially southwest of Brooks, are not uncommon, and ameliorate the cold winter temperatures temporarily when they pass over. Wide diurnal temperature ranges are regular, due to the aridity and moderately high elevation. Low humidity is prevalent throughout the year. Most of the relatively scant annual precipitation occurs in late spring and summer, often in the form of thunderstorms. On average, the coldest month is January, with a mean temperature of −10.1 °C (13.8 °F), while the warmest is July, with a mean temperature of 19.6 °C (67.3 °F). The driest month is February, with an average monthly precipitation of 9.1 mm (0.36 in), while the wettest month is June, with an average of 74.2 mm (2.92 in). Annual precipitation is low, with an average of 301.3 mm (11.86 in).
The base of the economy of the City of Brooks is energy (oil and gas) and agriculture, with other sectors including metal manufacturing, food processing and construction. It is also a retail and service centre for the surrounding area.
Canada’s second largest beef-processing facility, owned by JBS Canada, is located in Brooks and ships meat across the country and internationally. In 2012, while the plant was owned by XL Foods, it released meat contaminated with E. coli, and was shut down for a month. The plant has over 2000 employees.
Arts and culture
Brooks has won the Communities in Bloom competition four times in a row. Brooks has won Tidiness and Community Involvement Awards at a national level.
The Brooks Public Library, with a collection of over 50,000 items, serves both the City of Brooks and the County of Newell.
The JBS Leisure Centre is the area’s main recreation centre. It includes one arena, a curling rink, an aquatic centre with a waterslide and wave pool, a gymnasium, a fitness centre, and multipurpose rooms. The complex was renovated in 2005 and again in 2016. Now the Brooks Public Library is within the JBS Leisure Centre.
In 2010, the Duke of Sutherland Park was redeveloped. It features baseball diamonds, a soccer field, a playground and a 3,200 ft (980 m)² waterpark with spray features for toddlers and a play structure for older children.
Also in 2010, the Centennial Regional Arena was completed after nearly a decade of planning and 18 months of construction. The multi-purpose facility seats 1,704 people. It includes corporate boxes, a running track, concessions, and a 200 ft × 85 ft (61 m × 26 m) surface. The arena is home to several user groups, including the Brooks Bandits. The arena also hosted the 2019 National Junior A Championship.
There are three provincial parks in the area: Dinosaur Provincial Park, a World Heritage Site, to the northeast, Tillebrook Provincial Park to the east and Kinbrook Island Provincial Park to the south. In addition, there are several other recreational sites in the area including the Rolling Hills Reservoir, Crawling Valley Reservoir, and Emerson Bridge.
The Brooks Aqueduct southeast of Brooks was built to transport irrigation water across the Eastern Irrigation District. It spans across a 3.2 km (2.0 mi) valley, about 20 m (66 ft) above the ground.
Brooks is home to the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey LeagueThe ice hockey team was awarded to Brooks in 1998 and embarked on its first season in 2000. They have helped produce current NHL players such as Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche) and Chad Johnson. The Bandits won the league championship in 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2019. They won their first National Championship (The Royal Bank Cup) in 2013 and repeated again by winning the National Junior A Championship in 2019.
There are two football teams in Brooks: the Roadrunners and the Buffalos. The teams comprise players from the local junior and senior high schools respectively. The Buffalos represented Brooks at provincial championships in 1989, 1995, 1997, and 2009, winning in the title in its last three appearances. The Roadrunners appeared at provincial championships in 1995, 2004, and 2007.
Brooks is also home to a Western Major Baseball League franchise named the Brooks Bombers. They will begin play in May 2016 at Elks Field in the Quad Ball Diamond Complex.
Brooks City Council consists of one mayor and six councillors. The last election was held in October 2017. Barry Morishita has been mayor since 2016.
Brooks has three high schools, three junior high schools, five elementary schools, three primary schools, and two alternative schools. The schools are operated by Grasslands Public Schools, Christ the Redeemer School Division (Catholic) and Francosud (Francophone). Brooks also has a satellite campus of Medicine Hat College.
Acute medical care is provided at the Brooks Health Centre.
Brooks is served by two radio stations, CIBQ-FM (105.7 Real Country), and CIXF-FM (Boom 101.1). Both stations are owned by Stingray Group.
Brooks has two distinct newspapers. The Brooks Bulletin is published every Tuesday, and has served Brooks and the County of Newell since 1910. It has a weekly circulation of 4,332 and is a paid subscription product.
The Weekend Regional is a second paper the Bulletin established in 2004 and it is published on Fridays. As of January 2010, it became a total market coverage product with a weekly circulation of 11,235.