The area around Camrose was first settled in around 1900. At that time the nearby settlement of Wetaskiwin was a major centre for pioneers; typically, it was the last stopping-off point before they set out in search of nearby land. The site that was to be Camrose was about a day’s journey from Wetaskiwin along the railroad, which made it a popular place on the route of pioneers. Soon businessmen and other settlers arrived to stay. The settlers came primarily from Scandinavian countries, such as Norway and Sweden, and many settlers also came from the United States. At that time the settlement was known as the hamlet of Stoney Creek. In 1904, Stoney Creek began receiving mail service, its first businesses began to open, and its first RCMP officer (Constable “Blue” Smith) arrived.
On May 4, 1905, the settlement was incorporated as the Village of Sparling, named for Reverend Dr. Sparling of Winnipeg.However, because the name was often confused with Sperling and Stirling, in 1906 the Village Council renamed the settlement to Camrose. In December 1906, Camrose was incorporated as a town.
From 1905 to 1914, there was a great deal of railway construction in the Camrose area. Camrose became a bit of a railroad hub, sitting on railways that connected to Edmonton and Calgary, as well as many of the smaller towns in central Alberta, such as Vegreville, Stettler, Drumheller, and Wetaskiwin. By 1914, twelve passenger trains came through Camrose daily. In those days the growth of Camrose was strongly linked with the railway.
On June 26, 1912, the first building of the Camrose Lutheran College (known as Augustana University College from 1991 to 2004) was opened. Today the campus continues as the Augustana Faculty of the University of Alberta.
Camrose has continued to expand, even as the significance of the railroads waned. It is now stretching out along Highway 13, and is becoming a major stop for travellers along that road. With the advent of the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose it has become even more oriented towards tourism and hospitality.