• Dawn Riley

From Breage To Vermilion


Imperial Block, built in 1912. Photo prairie-towns.com

Did you know that Vermilion hasn’t always been known as Vermilion? Like many rural communities in Alberta, the land they occupy now is not necessarily where they started. In Vermilion’s case, Matthew Brimacombe was the first postmaster of the community of Breage, approximately 5 km east of present-day Vermilion. Established in 1904, Breage was named after his hometown in Cornwall, England.

It was the arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway that brought present-day Vermilion together. In 1905, the post office was relocated to the railway station and the area was renamed after the red clay that was abundant around the river banks. Brimacombe followed the post office, and eventually became Vermilion’s first mayor in 1906. Between 1906 and 1914, the Vermilion Brick Factory produced over 1.5 million bricks with the clay, contributing to the growth of downtown Vermilion, including the Imperial Block in 1912 on the east end of the downtown core.