It's a massive shock that turns Canadian politics on its head: the NDP has won a majority government in Alberta.  

"I think we might have made a little bit of history tonight," leader Rachel Notley told her supporters Tuesday night. "Friends, I believe, that change has finally come to Alberta. New people, new ideas and a fresh start for our great province."

The NDP won 53 ridings. Wildrose took 21 seats, while the PCs took 10. There was a tie in one Calgary riding — Calgary-Glenmore — between the PCs and NDP. A recount will take place in the next few days. 

The Liberals and the Alberta Party each claimed one seat. 

Notley believes the election was record-setting in terms of the number of women elected.

The Wildrose Party will be the province's Official Opposition, and leader Brian Jean has been elected in his riding of Fort McMurray-Conklin. 

The long-governing PC Party dropped to third place. The outgoing premier Jim Prentice told his supporters late Tuesday that he had resigned as party leader and had resigned his seat.

"My contribution to public life is now at an end," Prentice said.

The NDP won just over 41 per cent of the popular vote, the Wildrose got 24 per cent and the PCs were at about 28 per cent — roughly what was reported by many pollsters in the run-up to the election.

Voter turnout was 58.1 per cent, according to Elections Alberta.

Alberta election voter turnout

A Canadian Press graphic showing the turnout for past provincial elections in Alberta. (Canadian Press)

Rachel Notley to be Alberta's new premier

Notley is Alberta's next premier. Her campaign was touted as having "shades of Jack Layton," referring to the late federal NDP leader.

The NDP's previous best showing in Alberta was in 1986 when the party took 16 seats, but by 1993, it was shut out of the legislature.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated Notley on her win.

"I look forward to working with future Premier Notley on issues of importance for Albertans and all Canadians, including creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity across the province and country," Harper said in a statement issued Wednesday. He also offered thanks to Prentice, a former minister in his cabinet. and wished him well in his future endeavours.

Chart: Alberta votes 2015 seat change

The Alberta election seat change shows big NDP gains and big PC losses. (Canadian Press)

Alberta is traditionally Canada's most conservative province, but anger at the long-governing Progressive Conservative Party seems to have spurred an orange wave that has swept over most parts of the province.

Prentice called the election in April with 70 out of the 87 seats in the legislature. It was touted as a coronation for Prentice, once a Conservative MP recruited to fix the party's woes following the resignation of Alison Redford.

He had asked Albertans to give him a mandate after bringing in a "bad-news" budget when the election was called.

But over the campaign, there was a shift in momentum. It became a three-way horse race between the PCs, Wildrose and NDP.

Notley a leader 50 years in the making

Notley was born with orange roots.

Her father, Grant Notley, was the provincial NDP leader from 1968 until he was killed in a plane crash in 1984.

After Brian Mason resigned as NDP leader last year, Notley easily defeated her opponents to win 70 per cent of the vote.

The NDP won the majority of Calgary's ridings — areas where the PCs were supposed to hold onto power.

The NDP also swept the provincial capital and made gains in rural northern Alberta.

Chart: Alberta 2015 election results

Alberta 2015 election results, including the tie ("undecided") in Calgary-Glenmore. (Canadian Press)

Alberta Party wins seat

Greg Clark secured the Alberta Party's first seat in the provincial legislature. He led his party to more than two per cent of the popular vote.

Clark beat out former education minister Gordon Dirks in the riding of Calgary-Elbow.

Only three of Prentice's cabinet ministers won their seats: Wayne Drysdale, Manmeet Bhullar and Ric McIver.

Albertans also punished the Wildrose floor-crossers in tonight's vote. All of the MLAs who migrated to the PCs last year lost their seats.

Liberal Leader David Swann managed to hold onto his seat in Calgary-Mountain View, but the party only received roughly four per cent of the vote. Swann is now the only Liberal MLA in the Alberta Legislature.