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The first known European visit to the area near the town of Jasper occurred in 1810, when
North West Company explorer and fur trader
David Thompson reached this region with a party of voyageurs as part of his effort to find a trade route connecting the fur trading areas east of the Rockies to the Pacific coast, to ease the logistical problems involved in the fur trade in the prairies. Three years later, the company set up a depot here, which became known as Jasper House after the clerk (Jasper Hawse) who first worked there. However, the fur trade in Canada declined quickly, and the outpost was abandoned in 1884. In 1907, the Canadian government paid settlers in the region to leave so that it could establish Jasper Forest Park, which then became Jasper National Park in 1930.
The town of Jasper was established in 1911, with the arrival of the Grand Trunk Pacific rail line. The town was administered by bureaucrats in Calgary and Ottawa until Jasper became a municipality in 2001, and currently has a population of about 4,500. Under the new municipal arrangement, Jasper is governed and administered much like any other town anywhere else, however Parks Canada still retains jurisdiction in matters regarding land use and development. Jasper has managed to preserve a very small-town feel, ensuring that human activities do not disrupt too much the natural beauty of this wildlife preserve.