During 1869 to 1876 the Canadian West experienced devastating smallpox outbreaks resulting in significant loss of life and the British authorities authorized the establishment of a territorial health laboratory in Regina. The formation of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan on September 1st, 1905 necessitated the establishment of an independent Provincial Laboratory. Laboratory Services provided by the North West Territorial Laboratory in Regina became the Provincial Laboratory of Saskatchewan.
Rapid population growth in both provinces outstripped the capacity of a single laboratory and the Government of Alberta elected to establish its own Provincial Laboratory. On December 2nd, 1907 the Provincial Laboratory in Edmonton was created by Order-in-Council as a branch of the Department of Agriculture. Dr. D. G. Revell was appointed Director and Provincial bacteriologist. The Provincial Lab was housed in the Terrace Building and the mandate was to provide services related to public health in bacteriological, chemical, and pathological investigations including medico-legal exams.
Communicable disease activities initially focused on detection and prevention of typhoid fever, diphtheria and tuberculosis, including vaccine production, outbreak investigation and examination of domestic water and milk supplies. Other services provided were animal health procedures which included examination of chicken and cattle blood samples. Supply stations were established, chiefly in drug stores and samples were delivered to the laboratory via railway throughout the province. Between 1907 and 1908, the Provincial Laboratory completed 600 examinations.