Altona, Manitoba, incorporated as a village in 1946 and as a town in 1956, population 4088 (2011c), 3709 (2006c). The Town of Altona is located 96 km south of Winnipeg and 13 km north of the Canada-US border. It was built on local initiative to emerge from Mennonite agricultural settlement in the fertile Pembina Triangle into a diversified regional centre.
The town site was established in 1895 on a Canadian Pacific Railway spur near the agricultural village of Altona, settled in 1880 as part of a reserve W of the Red River for Mennonites from Russia. Altona gradually surpassed nearby Gretna, expanding its service role to foster the region's Co-operative Movement in the 1930s and 1940s and indigenous economic endeavours such as oil seed processing; printing and publishing; paperbox, clothing and other manufacturing; a broadcasting station; and a retailing complex.
Altona's development reflected transformation of the hinterland from grain and livestock farming to more intensive production of oil seeds, specialty crops and poultry, enabling smaller farms and relatively dense settlement. Altona's population initially was more cosmopolitan than the hinterland; nonetheless, its sociocultural development reflected the tensions of the Mennonite experience in Manitoba in its adaptation to, or disaffection with, secularization and modernization.