Chapter Eleven: Here and There
History of South Cooking Lake p. 184
Spilsted District p. 190
The History of Deville p. 192
The Amisk Creek Settlement p. 200
Lindbrook p. 206
Legend of Monarch of Beaver Hills p. 208
Districts that now make up the County of Beaver No. 9 p. 213
HISTORIES OF SURROUNDING DISTRICTS
Histories of the Deville, Cooking Lake, Amisk Creek, Lindbrook and Spilstead areas have been made available to the Tofield Historical Society. Since the pioneers of these districts were an integral part of the development of the area the Tofield Historical Society is pleased to include these histories of these contiguous areas in its book.
HISTORY OF SOUTH COOKING LAKE
Cooking Lake as a stopping place goes back to the days of old Carlton trail, the overland route from Winnipeg to Edmonton in the 1880’s. Around the turn of the century, the first homesteaders coming to this district used this trail named by the Indians. Cooking Lake in Cree means “place where we cook.”
Sheriff Robertson is one of the first names well known around Cooking Lake. He came with his family to that district in 1892. His mother was the first white woman to ever set foot on Kony Island, an island in Cooking Lake. He built a substantial lodge of native logs in 1898 on section 24, at South Cooking Lake. The lodge withstood the ravages of time and weather for more than 60 years and is still a landmark on the shore.
At that time, John MacFadden was camped on the shore of a small lake to the west which bears his name, “MacFadden Lake.” He had driven a horse herd up from Montana earlier that spring.
Next came Daniel Grummett who settled on the South shore in 1893, and has many descendants in the surrounding districts. The Grummett family kept the post office in Cooking Lake. On Saturdays the settlers came
from far and near on foot and on horseback to collect their weekly mail. Settlers from North Cooking Lake came across the lake to this post office. Distance meant little to Dan Grummett. He has been known to start to Edmonton on foot across country at five p.m. and be back by daylight with the box of shells he went for. He was also an excellent violinist and all of his family, three sons and two daughters, inherited his gift. A jack of all trades, he was also the carpenter when the Anglican Church was built in 1908, and built a fireplace of fieldstone for Sheriff Robertson.
From 1893 to 1906 Cooking Lake district filled up rapidly. One of the earlier settlers was Sid Edwards, 1901, who hauled freight from Edmonton to Cooking Lake and later with a team of oxen broke the first sod on many homesteads.
Mr. Keen, who had a greenhouse on the south shore, sold bedding plants in Edmonton, hauled via team and democrat over the Old Cooking Lake Trail. Eddie Keen, whose byline is familiar to readers of the “Edmonton Journal” is a grandson.
Mr. Walton’s four daughters and three sons made their home a popular one. It was a gathering place for the young people and 20 guests was a conservative number for Sunday supper.
Billy Murphy’s homestead is now part of the Alberta Game Farm.
Will Bufton’s homestead was west of the present Lakeview in 1902. Bert and Fred Williams and their mother were family friends in Chicago and they arrived in 1904.
The country south of Cooking Lake was rolling and heavily timbered. Mr. Chadwick had a saw-mill where the village now stands. Settlers hauled their own logs to the mill where they were sawn into rough lumber at
$4.00 per 1,000 ft. B.M. Many of the homesteaders were from the old countries and had been apprenticed to different trades. Working at their trade part of each year in Edmonton helped many over the first rough year Everyone lived off the land as much as possible. Rabbits and partridge, an occasional deer and even bear meat during the winter, were items of homesteaders’ menu.
The lakes were full of pike and mullet (jackfish) and suckers to the homesteaders) which made a welcome change in springtime. Wild ducks and berries of all kinds were plentiful all summer.
Trapping muskrats in the spring was also a source of revenue. Later on came the beef, cream cheques and small crops on every homestead.
Franklin School was built in 1908. Mrs. Portas., Mr. Walton and Brockett Moneypenny were the first trustees. Miss Gertie Stinson was the first teacher.
A few of the names who arrived before 1908 were Chambers on whose homestead Lakeview Pavilion now stands; Uprights who had the first B.A. service station in the village; Hepharts, Browns, Bradshaws, Portas, Bob Bell, Moneypennys, Morehouse, Haleys, Bairds, Chadwicks, Edgar Hayman, George Weslake (originally at Cooking Lake) Oswald Defieux and many more.
In the Cooking Lake district there were many homesteads filed on by single young men. So every male living alone on a homestead, whether he was 18 or 80, was called an “old bachelor.”
During the late winter of 1907 these bachelors held a meeting, appointed a secretary (Brockett Moneypenny) and each one donated one dollar to provide refreshment at what was to become an annual affair, “The Bachelor Ball”. It was the wind-up in the spring of the settlers’ social season. Formal invitations were sent out to more than 50 families, children and grandparents
included within a 20-mile radius. Sheriff Robertson loaned his lodge for the occasion. The music was furnished by Dan Grummett with violin and Art Quilley with a flute. The cooking was done by Mrs. Trudgeon (a daughter of Mr. Grummett) who was later to become Mrs. Murdock of Ministik. She was assisted by Ada Chambers. At twelve midnight sandwiches, cakes, even lemon pies, tea and coffee were served followed by an hour of impromptu concert, in which everyone participated.
Then the dance was resumed, lasting sometimes until daylight if the roads were bad. The labour, music, etc. were all donated free and the memory of these “get-togethers” lingers long in the memory of the old-timers.
Farther east on the south shore of Cooking Lake lies the Ministik Lake district. In 1910-11 there was quite a summer resort at White Sand Beach. There were several cottages built there.
There was a large boat (The Daisy Girl) owned by Mr. Firth and Mr. Hull, editor of the Edmonton Bulletin for many years. This boat met passengers from the daily C. N. R. train at North Cooking Lake and delivered them to White Sands on the south shore.
The first Postmaster in Ministik was Pete Anderson, and, later, his parents. They lived in a small house directly opposite the present consolidated school. They were a quaint old couple who spoke such broad Gaelic that a newcomer found it difficult to understand. The mail was brought out to Cooking Lake via team and buggy and then taken by horseback to the post-office. In wet seasons the horse would often bog down on the way.
Ministik School was built in 1909. There was a debenture taken out for $88. The lumber was bought from W. C. Swift of Tofield and hauled to the school site by Andrew and Archie Ferguson. Bob Mair, secretary, Peter McKerral and David Swabey were members of the first school board. The first teacher was a Mr. McCauley, who
boarded at the Robert George home, who were the first owners in 1908 of the homestead where the present school and Ministik Community Hall are now located. Church services were also held at this home. The first written record of the old school is in 1910, when fourteen pupils were enrolled from May until December inclusive. The teacher was Mrs. Irene Verge. The old school, still in good repair is used and owned by the United Church for weekly services. The original desks and the copper hand-bell which was used to keep order down through the years is still there.
The lakes were used for travel in winter; the ice was smooth travelling and often cut off many miles “as the crow flies”.
In 1912, Ed Donnelly took out a contract to build the main road right through to Tofield. He hired a crew of eight men with teams to use plows, scrapers, and fresnos, which were the only road machinery available. He moved his tent camp every few miles as the work progressed. Ernie Haley was one of the local men who worked on the road and his wife cooked for the men; their seven-year old daughter attended school from the road camp. The school was open all summer and closed January and February the first years. Deep snow and cold made it difficult for young children to attend. Maintenance of the road provided a source of revenue in the district later.
Bert Williams filled the sloughs on the side road leading to his homestead with the stones he picked off his first fields, covered the stones with dirt scraped from the hills to enable him to drive out to the main road.
Fred Butler, fresh from Agricultural College in Toronto, came to Ministik in 1909. He and Bert Williams and Myra George formed a debating society in 1910, which provided a social outlet for all.
Stanley George played on the Tofield Hockey team
several years. Mr. Eva and family lived on the homestead north of Bert Williams in 1907. They were, previous to that, missionaries in India.
Bill Stewart ran a saw-mill with a huge old steam engine for many years near the Ministik Lake.
Jack McNish, foreman of a lumber camp near Edson spent his summers on his homestead.
The first man on Atkinson’s place pushed his belongings from Edmonton with a wheelbarrow, but did not stay long.
The Camerons had the place where the present B-A Service Station and Coffee Shop is now.
Frank Doherty owned the quarter where the Catholic Church now stands, south of the hall.
Following are a few names of the first settlers: Wingroves, Bacheldor, Barnes, Olivers, Bosses, Ralph Ablett, Heitmans, Bert Robbins, Steele Murdoch, Dick Allen, Jack Blair, Quigleys, McBain, George Huff, Dick Wilson.
There was a quaint character on the west end of the lake who drove one horse and one steer for a team. He claimed that the dim trail leading past his place was made by rustlers driving stolen cattle to southern Alberta.
Ministik Lake itself and 10,000 acres of virgin territory is a Federal Sanctuary. By an order of the Minister of the Interior, in 1911, all vacant lands adjoining the lake and the smaller lakes beyond were set aside for sanctuary, to provide protection for the birds which migrate from one country to another. An agreement was signed in 1916 by His Majesty’s Ambassador Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, G. V. C. 0., and Mr. Robert Lansing, Secretary of State, U. S. A.
There are good houses and good cars and prosperity in Ministik and Cooking Lake districts, due in large part to the beef and cream cheques down through the years. - – – Irene Williams
The information for this article was obtained from Mrs. John Warner, nee Alice Spilsted.
This district was named after Charles Spilsted who after hearing of the wonderful free land in Alberta, left his English farm home in July 1903 with his wife, their six sons and one daughter for Canada. The family spent one year in Cranbrook, B.C., and another in Kimberly, B. C.
Mr. Spilsted spent two months driving with horses to many places around Edmonton before sending for his family to join him in October, 1905. He rented a house in Strathcona and here he left his wife, daughter, oldest son, and youngest son (to complete his education) while the others completed a log house and barn on the homestead which was ten miles west and two miles south of Tofield. In June, 1906, the family was re-united on the homestead. The trip to the homestead took two days with two teams and wagons over primitive trails, including corduroy roads, uncut brush and plentiful mudholes which could only occasionally be avoided. When the mudholes could not be driven around, both teams had to be hitched to one wagon. It made, says Mrs. Warner, an interesting trip for greenhorns!
Many people looking for homesteads were welcomed at the Spilsted home. The home became a stopping place, the guests sleeping on the floor, as was the custom.
Other early settlers in the district included the Chillman family, the Mickleboroughs, John Druce, Doanes, Mr. and Mrs. George Everitt, Harry Saul and Miles Bar-
row, Dawson Manners, George Perkine as well as others who were in residence for only a short time. Guy Owens who lived in the Ketchamoot district, had previously proved up a quarter section used entirely for slough hay which was later bought by the Spilsteds.
As the settlers increased in numbers the need for a Post Office arose. It was applied for under the name “Happyland” but the grant came in the name of “Spilsted.” When, later, the school was built, somehow the “Spilsted” was misspelled “Spilstead” and to the disapproval of the family, the latter spelling was retained. When the rural mail routes were established, the Spilsted office was closed but, until that time, Walter Mickleborough carried the mail once a week, in summer by democrat and in winter by jumper (sleigh).
Will and Carmen Spilsted were often called on to supply music for dancing and parties. Violin, guitar, organ and the occasional piano were the means of entertairmient by Will and Carmen for the pioneers of the Tofield area. Will and Carmen Spilsted lived in the town of Tofield during their retirement as did Bert and Polly Spilsted. The only living member of the Spilsted family in 1967 is the daughter, Alice, who married John Warner and lived in the Lakeshore district. Mrs. Warner now lives in Tofield. John Jr. the eldest son farms in the Lakeshore district. Herbert the middle boy lives with his wife Carol and sons Kevin and Christopher in Edmonton; John Jr. married Irene Bailey they have one son Bruce (who married Isla Hielter) and one grandson, Brian; Allan Married Joan Murray. Their children are: Michael, Lynn and James.
The Mickleborough family of the Spilsted area came from London. The family consisted of the father, three sons and two daughters, one of whom married Fred Doane a neighbour and moved away. On the Mickleborough farm, there was a fair-sized lake called Gamblen Lake but mostly known by the family name. All the neighbours were welcome to use Mickleborough’s home-built boat to go to the island in the lake where they could pick the
wild raspberries, gooseberries, cranberries, and black currants which grew in great profusion. For several years, a pair of vultures proved a great attraction on the island as they nested and raised their young.
The John Druce family were also English. The son, George, and daughter, Mary, (Mrs. Gus Schmidt) and Dorothy (Mrs. Ivan Broen) still live in the district. Miles Barrow married and his family grew up in the district; he has retired and lives with his daughter.
Percy Mason returned to England after several years and now lives near Canterbury by himself, still riding a bicycle at 82 years of age.
Dawson Manners left and opened a store in Jarrow. He married a Tofield School teacher.
THE HISTORY OF DEVILLE
On a cool October day in 1906, a group of five – four Irishmen – Sam and Jim Adams, John Coleman, John Morrow and an American from North Freedom, Wisconsin, Jack Dickie, wended their way east from Edmonton by the old base line trail for eighteen miles, then as best they could for another fifteen miles through brush, swamp and muskeg. They had pooled their resources to buy a team of horses, a wagon, and supplies for the coming winter.
They reached the north-east shore of Cooking Lake by nightfall – unhitched their weary horses, built a campfire, had a lunch, pitched their tent and bedded down for the night. Tomorrow each would be out scouting for a quarter section of land on which he would squat and establish a home. This land was part of the Cooking Lake Forest Reserve and although it was all burnt over and not yet surveyed or open for homesteading, its choice lay in the fact that it was good rich sandy loam. It lay in a sloping valley between Wannison Lake and Hastings Lake, with Cooking Lake on the west and Islet Lake on the east.
At one time this area had evidentally been an Indian hunting ground. Many a time the writer plowed up what was reported to be large balls of pemmican which was sun-dried buffalo meat, pulverized and mixed with melted fat and wild berries such as cranberries,saskatoons,, and bakapple. It was in balls as large as a football, and had been buried in the earth by the Indians for emergencies. It was tough as rubber but not decayed. Many Indian relics such as arrowheads, flint spear heads, stone battle axes, pemmican pounders and tanning scrapers were also turned up.
The main idea of squatting in this district was the rumor that the railway from Winnipeg to Edmonton might come through this location, and the settlers guessed it would be on the north side of Cooking Lake.
They decided to squat on a quarter section each, and by the end of November each had built a log shack of a kind in order to establish a claim. On Jack Dichie’s quarter, a large two-storey house was built and the five boys batched together for the winter. “We made our head-quarters there, and built a log barn. Everything possible was home-made–our beds were made from poles, mattresses were gunny sacks stuffed with hay; pillows were made from duck feathers, tables were native poplar; apple boxes nailed to the. walls served as shelves; we cooked on iron stoves. Throughout it all, we were warm, comfortable and healthy.
The winter of 1906 – 07 is remembered as the winter of the deep snows and low temperatures – sometimes as low as 60 below. We ate the odd partridge, but the writer hereby acknowledges his indebtedness to the lowly bush rabbit. Rabbits were eaten every day–stewed fried, and baked. We also had lots of pork and beef, as we could buy a dressed hog or a quarter of beef for five cents a pound from the occasional settler who would pass through with a load on his way to Edmonton. The Cooking Lake trail and the old Beaver Lake trail were the two highways travelled by the early settlers from Tofield and Beaver Lake districts. Such familiar
names as Francis, Cookson, Ingram, Woods and Shupe come to mind.
All the creeks and lakes had fish, and creeks flowed all winter. There were deer, elk, lynx, fox, mink and muskrats, and these meant ready cash for their fur and hides.
The only settlers near this part of the country when the squatters came were Peter Donald and his family. The Donalds whose grandfather homesteaded on a quarter section which is now Bonnie Doon in Edmonton, lived on the creek outlet of Cooking Lake. The Jonas Ward family lived on the creek on Hastings Lake at the northwest end. Another family was the Augustus Gladue family, who had a well established ranch at the outlet of Hastings Lake. He had moved from Beaver Lake years before to take advantage of the luscious pastures and hay meadows along Hastings Creek. Many a weary traveller between Beaver Lake country and Edmonton was glad to make camp at the Gladue ranch, and share the hospitality of the Gladue home. This ranch was the outstanding land mark in the district during the early days. Jack Saunderson lived on the west end of Cooking Lake. He was a Sioux guide with General Middleton during the Riel uprising. He came to Edmonton from Fort Pitt and was land guide for many parties around Edmonton. He ended up as a guide for Charlie Bremner, valuator and appraisor for the C. P. R. Charlie set him up on a quarter section of land on Cooking Lake, where he eked out a living trapping. Jack was quite a story teller, and was welcome wherever he went.
The settlers had guessed right about the railway for in the summer of 1907 the Grand Trunk Pacific surveyors came along, and construction gangs followed in 1908. By this time we had left the big house we shared during the winter, and had all moved into our own log shacks and improved them considerably. With the coming of the railway, other squatters began to come into the district, most of them squatting on the south end of the Forest Reserve. Among these earliest set-
tlers were: Alex Morrow, Hugh Adams, John Adams, Robert Adams., Bert Dunn, Jim Morrow, Hedley Bryenton, Charles Magee, William Doxee, John Watherston, J. M. Verge, Jim Scott, Fred Pennock, Peter Donald, Henry Donald, Roy and Guy Dunn, Jim McCaskill, R. Banford, William Ross, Teddy Owen, Bob McHarry, Walter Langton, Matthew Ferguson Sr., Andy and Archie Ferguson, Henry White, Julia Rowland, Pete Huston, Tom Scott, William Druiard, Jim Gray, Charlie Gray,Alex Love, Bob Donald, and Peter McKerral. I am mentioning these settlers as there are residents in the district today who will recognize many of these names.
With the coming of the railway, jobs were available working with the surveyors, cutting right-of-way, ditching, and building the grade for the railway. During the winter, earth was shovelled into miniature cars which were hauled by horses out to the grade on narrow gauge rails. I might mention that quite a few of the settlers were able to buy a team of horses or a yoke of oxen, and those who were fortunate enough took subcontracts building grade with a borrowed slip, and if they could double up with someone, they could get a fresno. This was slow hard work, but it paid $2.00 a day, and I honestly believe few of the settlers could have stuck it but for this ready cash. Many felt indebted to the late Mr. Jackson who contracted from Folley, Welsh and Stewart. He would give anyone a chance if they were willing to work.
When the grade was built and the steel laid, there were other jobs such as fencing and keeping the track level. There was no gravel, and the usual procedure when the track sank in the mud was to go into the bush and cut poplar poles, and haul them out, cut them into suitable lengths, jack up the steel and slip the poles under the ties. This was only good for a few days, at which time the operation had to be repeated.
By 1909 the railway was completed, and on August l3th, 1909, the writer rode from Tofield to Edmonton on the first passenger train from Winnipeg. By the
time the Grand Trunk was through, most of the settlers had a few cows, and cream cheques were the life savers from then on. As land was cleared, grain was grown, and hogs and beef cattle increased, and the settlers were beginning to feel well established.
Now that the district was well settled., requests were made to Ottawa to have the district thrown open for homesteading, and giving the squatters the right to file on their land. After much negotiating, and with the help of the Honorable Frank Oliver, Minister of the Interior at that time, the land was eventually surveyed, and the old squatters got their claims, paving the way for new homesteaders.
It is of interest to know how our district was named. Various names were suggested for the new settlement, such as Dickieville, for the senior of the first squatters. New Ireland and Erin were other names suggested. However, when the railway built their station, they bolted up a big twelve-foot sign on the front of it–“DEVILLE”, in honor of the Surveyor General of Canada at that time, C. E. Deville.
In time, most of the bachelors married, and as the community grew and families increased, there came the need for a school. The local school had its beginning at a public meeting held in Mr. Ross’ house in January 1912. Trustees were J. M. Verge, Mr. Kidney and Mr. Fowler. Money was raised by selling debentures to the Alberta School Supply Company. Interest paid was 6 1/2%. The site for the school was donated by the late John Coleman, who lost his life in the first World War. The school was built for $740.00 by Mr. Harrison.
The second annual meeting had four ratepayers present. At that time, the writer was elected president, and was connected with the board for the following 45 years when he retired and left the district. Early trustees were: Mrs. Mcmenomy, Mr. Fowler, Alex Love, Mrs. Bert Dunn, J. M. Verge, Mr. McCarty, Mrs. Owen Mrs. Bryenton, Alex Morrow and the writer J. Morrow.
Besides her active role as a trustee Mrs. Bert Dunn played a major role in helping the children. She gave much of her time in coming to the school to teach the children handicrafts, such as knitting, sewing, and woodwork which were exhibited in the Annual School Fair. Many of those children who now have families of their own, remember her helping hand with gratitude.
The school ran very successfully from its start in 1912, and had many pupils of which it is justly proud. In 1937, permission was granted to add another room to the school, to enable the students to take up to grade eleven. This was built for $415.00. Now two teachers were hired–a Junior High and a High School teacher.
The local school is no longer used, as pupils are now taken by bus to larger centers, under the Provincial Government’s new scheme. It is now used as a community center, so still serves a useful purpose in the community.
In the winter of 1912 – 1913 the first store was built in Deville by Mr. Jim Caskill and a partner who was a fur buyer. This store served the community for a short time, as it burned. In 1914 Mr. McIntosh built a store and in 1916 sold it to Jack Curlett Sr. About 1924, Mr. Curlett’s son Jack Jr. and his wife Laura took over.
Around the same time that Jack Curlett Jr. was operating his store, Alex Morrow kept a store on his homestead farm, a short distance north of Deville then built a new store south of the railway station. The two stores served the community until Curlett’s burned in 1930. It was never rebuilt. Morrow’ store has continued to serve the district.
The first mail in the district was brought by saddle horse from South Cooking Lake district to Mr. Watherson’s homestead. Later the Verge’s had it in their log home. When the railway was completed in 1909 the post office was moved to McCaskill’s store, then to McIntosh’s and Curlett’s store. When Curlett’s store burned, the post office was moved to Alex Morrow’s
store on February 24th, 1931, where it is at the present time.
In June 1956 Mr. Alex Morrow received a long time service badge for having given satisfactory service to the Post Office Department and to the people of Canada
Several churches have served the district over the years–the first is believed to have been the Anglican Church from Tofield. Services were held in December 1912, presumably in the school. A Catholic Church was built shortly after this date. The United Church held services in the school for many years, sending student ministers out from St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton. The Lutheran Church and the Mennonite Church have also served the religious needs of the community.
While Deville has become a prosperous district the struggling railway, no longer an asset to the district is slowly shrinking into oblivion. The stockyards, the elevators, the section gangs, water tank, and siding are all gone. Good roads, good trucks and good service have been a welcome substitute and nobody gives a second thought to the disappearing railway.
The early settlers are pretty well scattered today, and many have reached the end of the trail. Many of their families have enjoyed large holdings, and are enjoying the prosperity that well developed farms, good buildings, gravelled roads, electricity and gas brings. No longer are people dependent on trapping–this has been replaced by dairy herds, beef stock, hog and sheep raising.
The district is fortunate in having the Blackfoot Stock Association pasture adjoining it. This is a 40,000 acre community pasture which started in 1922, and runs about two thousand head of cattle per season from May 15th to October 15th,and is under the capable management of Mr. Jack Gray.
Texaco Exploration has done some drilling, and has struck a strong gas flow. Drilling is continuing from time to time.
When the district was transferred from the Beaver Municipal District to the County of Strathcona, a new era of road development started……..high grades, and gravelling of all main roads…….something the district had hoped for after many years of only “good weather” roads. Councillor Andy Adamson played a large part in bringing these services to our district; later it was taken over by Rodger Parker.
The latest acquisition to the district is the new Provincial public picnic park set up in 1926. This is a quarter section of land on the north shore of Hastings Lake, owned by the Provincial Department of Lands and Mines. It has half a mile of sandy beach, and good fishing with hackfish and perch. Many beautiful islands of spruce and birch dotted throughout the lake, making it a popular spot for boating, fishing and duck hunting. Our local Member of Parliament, Mr. Floyd Baker, played an active part in developing this project, and “Baker Beach” is fast becoming one of Alberta’s most beautiful public camp sites.
This is the story of Deville as the writer saw it. Looking back over those 58 years, I can sum it up in one phrase, “Those were the good old days”.
– John Morrow
THE AMISK CREEK SETTLEMENT
Mrs. Conrad Patterson, a former resident of the Amisk Creek district., wrote the following article.
The rich land along the banks of the Amisk or Beaver Creek together with the stream, teeming with fish, seemed an ideal location for a settlement to the Flaatens, Bergs and A. Erickson who arrived there in 1894. But these Norsemen soon found they had English neighbors. Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their son had located about a mile and a half south of the present Picnic Shelter. Then they dug a home in the bank, shored it up with boards, covered the roof with sod and were ready for winter.
Mr. Erickson filed on the quarter north of them and Rudolph Berg and his son Robert settled on the land just south of Donald Yoder’s farm.
No doubt they all hurried to the Dominion Land Office at Beaver Lake, N.W.T. to file on their homesteads but only Asa Erickson’s document is available. It is dated June 16, 1894, number 268.
In October the P.C. Moen family arrived and Flaatens made room for them until they could dig a shelter in the bank about half a mile to the north-west. There were no boards for walls and floor but it was home and the happy family moved in in November, taking Mr. Erickson as a boarder.
“It was crowded with Pa and Ma Erickson, Einar, ( a baby) and I, but oh it was fun!” said Mrs. Annie Patterson, at ninety-one.
The men were often away cutting logs but the women were too busy to be lonely. There were socks and mitts to knit, candles to make from tallow and made in a mould bought in Winnipeg. Mrs. Moen had a sewing machine and had been warned of the high-prices of materials in Canada, up to thirty cents a yard, so she had a good supply of calicoes to make up at five cents a yard
The news that Annie was working age soon spread and before she left for a position at Dr. Tofield’s, Mrs. Flaaten came over one evening and they made basques and skirts for themselves. They splurged that night and used two candles.
Annie’s dress was a cream flannel with brown dots and cost ten cents per yard. She did love that dress.
Mrs. Moen’s prowess as a midwife also spread and she helped bring many babies into the world. When she couldn’t go in the early days, Annie had to. She went to Brown’s and then to Major Fane’s, east of the lake She was to care for an invalid daughter but she had scarcely finished the supper dishes when Major Fane placed young Frank in her arms. He evidently was in a hurry to get on with the business of his country and caught them unprepared.
Annie held the baby before the fire and kept him warm until the midwife arrived. It was a cold, stormy night and the lady lived about five miles away around the lake; Annie kept boasting about the fine baby until the poor mother was frantic with worry. She was sure something was wrong with him, but her fears were groundless; he was perfect. He’s now a Conservative M.P. for Vegreville-Bruce. (Editor’s note: Major Fane resigned his seat in Parliament early in 1968.)
During the summer of 1895 the log houses were completed and the families moved in. Mr. Erickson was joined by his wife and daughter Alma. They brought some fine furniture and were the envy of the neighborhood.
Church services were sorely missed and when Presbyterian or Methodist preachers rode in, all the settlers gathered for worship and fellowship. There were no denominational divisions; they all used the same Bible all believed in the same God; each took his turn hosting his neighbours, serving as he was able. Sometimes the refreshments were pretty meagre but that didn’t count.
Occasionally the ministers served in other capacities. Rev. R.E. Findlay arrived at Erickson’s and found that gentleman suffering untold agonies with an aching tooth. The minister reached in his saddle bag for forceps, pulled the tooth and won a life-long friendship. No doubt he was invited in, to dry out after fording the creek, and given good Norwegian coffee.
The women longed for Ladies’ Aid and walked to Bardo whenever they could, carrying their precious shoes. Sometimes they knit as they walked, the yarn fastened with a device hooked in their belts.
Mrs. Moen was the Bardo Ladies’ Aid first Treasurer and Mrs. Flaaten and Mrs. Erickson were also Charter Members. They joined in on quilting, knitting, sewing, and talking, but all working toward a goal – a church.
However, in 1902, the ladies found it too far to go to Bardo; new settlers had arrived in their own community and they needed a church of their own.
Consequently, an Aid was formed. Mrs. P.C. Moen was elected President and Mrs. P.O. Flaaten, Sec.-Treas. Other members were Mesdames A. Erickson., P.O. Moline, Oleana Lillo, and the Misses Annie Moline and Annie Moen. These two young members became Mrs. Roy Carter and Mrs. Alfred Patterson.
The first dinner and sale was held at Moens in the spring of 1903. A $100.00 organ was purchased with the proceeds and church was held in the school. But the women wanted a church, so when their savings reached $400.00 the men were asked to pitch in. The congregation was canvassed, other donors gave generously, Alfred Patterson donated land for the church and cemetery, and with a capital of $1075, the Pederson Bros. of Round Hill were contracted to build the church.
The church was incorporated on Dec. 31, 1914, under the name of The Norwegian Lutheran Church of Amisk Creek. Charter members were: Mr. and Mrs. R.O. Berg, Mr. and Mrs. A. Patterson, Mr.and Mrs. P.O. Flaaten, Mr. and
p. 203 [numbered p. 204 in book, reversed with p. 203]
Mrs. Peder C. Moen, Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Moen, and Peter J. Aas.
Rev. Jothen, Pastor of the six-point Ryley charge conducted services bi-monthly.
The minutes of the congregational meetings were written in Norwegian until 1930 although English was used for most church services after 1920.
A basement was built in 1928 and a kitchen in 1938. For a period of four months the church was used as a school after that building burned.
Some of the remarks overheard at the Lutefisk dinners served in the basement were most amusing. One young girl was passed a plate of lefse. She took a piece and placed it beside her place. Her companion asked her, “Aren’t you going to eat it?” “Is that what you do with it!” was her reply. Spread with butter and sugar, it would have made a sticky napkin.
Mrs. Gray liked flat-bread but not that skin- bread and one man knew what lye did to his sink so he wasn’t taking any chances on eating lutefisk.
Membership was never large in the Amisk Creek church but we did have fifty-five children and adults receive baptism; thirty were confirmed, but only seven at Amisk Creek and eight couples were married there. The women kept abreast of changes in their organization, raised hundreds of dollars for charitable purposes, added improvements to the church and even installed the power after the congregation had given its consent providing we would pay the bills.
Let us turn back again to about 1900. With the arrival of new families it became apparent that a school must be built. Lawrence Anderson bought Berg’s quarter for $500.00, a magnificent sum, Gallaghers settled south of them, Sr. and Jr. P.O. Moline bought out the Browns, the William Lennie family and Hugh Black, settled east of them, L. Bolton, Andrew Patterson and his neph-
p. 204 [numbered 203 in book]
ew Alfred, John L. Gray, Peter Aas, the Lillo family and others made the settlement positively crowded.
A meeting was called, early in 1903, consisting of L. Anderson, Chairman, L. Bolton, Sec. and John. L. Gray was elected as treasurer. H. Black, a bachelor, donated land in tho south-east corner of Section 22 and the Amisk Creek School District, No. 799, N.W.T., was formed. A seal bearing this insignia was still in use in the minute book of 1937.
It was decided to build a 20′ by 26′ building. L. Bolton was asked to see M. McCauley about getting out 4000 ft. of lumber, debentures were issued for $410.00 and contracts were let as follows: W. Schultz for hauling lumber @ $5.00 per thousand, hauling lumber, nails, etc. from Wetaskiwin to Mr. Solberg for $42.00, delivering 2 cords of rock – A. Erickson, $12.50, laying foundations 1 1/2′ x 1 1/2′ – J. Adams – $10.00, building school – A. A. Story – $89.00 and seats for $l5.00, hauling and piling lumber – C. Adams – $4.00, digging 2 holes, 3′ x 4′ x 5′ – H. Gallagher, $1.50 and building 2 little houses – P. Aas – $9.00. The contract to rebuild in 1937 was let to A. Moen, and J. Ness for $2696.
The first pupils were Annie, Oscar, Nettie and Elmer Anderson, Alma Erickson., Einar Moen, Albert and Ingvald Lillo, Alex Lennie and Chanley Gallagher. They were greeted by John D. Gilchrist, a good teacher I am told . He must have been shrewd and a man of means as well, because in 1904 the board borrowed $197.00 from him at 8% to meet current expenses even though taxes had been raised from 3 1/8 cents per acre to 4 1/4.
The settlers worked hard but there was time for play too. Visitors were so welcome and when language proved a barrier, sign language was used. Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Flaaten had a great visit this way. Mrs. Erickson called on the Lennies, a fine Metis family. Mrs. Lennie dug some meat out of the ground, cooked it, spread a cloth on the grass and they sat down to enjoy the dinner. It was good even though it was skunk. Annie Moen
went to her first picnic at Rowlands and found the only refreshment was a barrel of lake water. She didn’t stay long. It was a long way home for supper.
I don’t know what the men did for amusement except play outlandish pranks on each other. I suspect they watched the girls because one by one the bachelors married or moved on. I know there were house parties, ice-cream socials, Christmas concerts, quilting bees, and I feel sure the men were there, too.
Some of the girls formed a basketball team. Mabel Vaughn, Inger Brocks, Mary Francis, Lena Anderson, Agnes and Emma Bruha had a lot of fun. Emma remembers playing Bardo and those Jensen girls!
Later football became the craze. A Young People’s Society was formed and young and old alike took part in the programs. Again all denominations became one. Of course this was in the late 20’s and communication and travel were no problem and I doubt we felt we were having as much fun as our forefathers had enjoyed under far more stringent circumstances.
The creek still meanders through the community but its channel has been diverted, bridged and dammed. Roads are gravelled and no longer is it necessary to skirt sloughs and then follow the creek’s twists and turns to reach school as Alma Adams did. Progress has set in; the progress has taken its toll.
The trend toward larger farms, the migration of young people to larger centres to seek employment and old folk retiring for a well-deserved rest has left many homes vacant. The school was moved to Tofield and now serves as the Historical Society Museum. The children are bussed to Ryley, and Ryley has become the centre for Luther League and 4H activities. More families have moved away.
Finally the church faced the insurmountable task of functioning with five families and a bachelor. The task was too great. But, before closing its doors, a
glorious Fiftieth Anniversary celebration was held in August, 1964.
The church was filled with former members and friends out: two charter members, Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Moen were duly honoured, there was great rejoicing but sadness too. Then in December, the doors were closed.
The little cemetery is kept by the young Patterson boys, Gary, John, David and Dennis and given a good trimming once a year by the sons and daughters of loved ones lying there. The church still stands as a symbol of fellowship enjoyed.
Although the community has dwindled, its spirit lingers; legends of its early days persist and many are the stories still being told.
Lindbrook School District was formed early in 1910. The first trustees were: Mr. Lindberg, Mr. Sherbrook, and Mr. Asa Rogers. Mr. C. Blake was the secretary-treasurer. While the school was being built, classes were in a log building on the homestead of Mr. A. Anderson from May to December. The new school was built by Asa Rogers, assisted by Mr. Sherbrook and Steve Sullivan. After December 1, 1910, classes commenced in the new school with the new teacher, Mrs. Fielding, who had just come out from England. Other teachers at Lindbrook in the early years were Miss Metherikk and Mr. McCall. Later, Mr. McCall was to be principal at Alberta College.
The little log building which had been used for a school was used as a granary when a few years later Mr. Anderson sold his farm to Mr. W. Hooper and Pete Holland. Mr. Anderson moved to Miquelon district south of Lindbrook; a son, Helmer, still lives there.
Lindbrook acquired its name from a combination of parts of the names of the two trustees, Lindberg and Sherbrook.
The C.N.R. completed its main line through Lindbrook in 1909. The first passenger service occured early in 1910. In 1914, the Lindbrook station was erected. It stood until just recently when it was sold. A. Parish and Heinbecker elevator was built near the station in 1933, but it was torn down in 1951.
The road to Edmonton in the early years was just a winding trail. Though it was improved somewhat during the years, it was not gravelled until 1930.
Lindbrook Store was built in 1919 by Percy Swain. However, he did not complete the job as he fell from his wagon while hauling supplies from the store. He broke his leg, gangrene set in, and he died. His brother-in-law took over and ran the store for a number of years.
Mr. Jack Leahy was well known throughout the district.
Those who were fortunate enough to have a telephone could order groceries and have them delivered by Mr. Leahy.The children would all be waiting to see his old touring car come in sight for they would be certain to find a bag of candy or packet of gum tucked away in the grocery bag.
Mr. Leahy sold the store to Clark and Hicks who in turn sold it to Mr. Silversides. The store later belonged to J. Bracegirdle, Brown and Timelus. F. Garford, J. Hooper and to its present owner, Charles MacLeod.
Other old timers in the Lindbrook area included the families of Stine, Glenn, Steve Sullivan, Otto Lindgren, John Wozencroft, Andrew Scott, Tam Porter, Ed Cookson, Tam Cookson, John Bailey, Frank Kortzman, A. Gill, G. Braaten, Mrs. A. Smith, A. McHeffey, George MacKenzie, Jack Appleby, J. Brown, 0. Jensen, Robert Logan, W.Lancaster, A. Frary, R. Hammersley, John Wilson, Paul and Jesse McMullen.
LEGEND OF MONARCH OF BEAVER HILLS
– by Irene Williams courtesy Winnipeg Free Press
R.D. (Bob) Harris of Canadian Wildlife Service and Keith Williams, project manager and field man for Ducks Unlimited, stood admiring magnificent elk antlers mounted high on the wall of the Williams’ home near Ministik Lake.
“By Jove, Keith.” exclaimed Harris as he measured the antlers for a second time, “will you look at this? They are a royal head; a real trophy! How did you get them?”
“Well, it’s a long tale, Bob,” said his companion as he strolled off, “but strange as it may seem, that rack that you have just measured may be the proof that an almost legendary tale that has been told for many years through the range of Beaver Hills.”
In this part of the Canadian West the country is rolling and well timbered, also dotting with innumerable lakes. It is an ideal game country and as late as 1900 one could travel by canoe, without portage, from Miquelon Lake, close to Camrose, right through the Beaver Hills via Oliver, Ministik, Cooking and Hastings Lakes to Beaverhill Lake between Tofield and Mundare.This route lies south and east of Elk Island Park situated on Highway 16 west of Mundare.
When Elk Island Park was being formed the moose and deer were very plentiful in that area but the elk were noticeably fewer in nunber.
Around solitary camp fires, however, the story oft repeated was of a giant bull elk who sank through the ice on Ministik Lake into twelve feet of water. The place was marked by hearsay as being one half mile west of the creek mouth which ran from Ministik to Cooking Lake.
The idea for Elk Island Park began in 1904 at which time 16 square miles were set aside as a game preserve and by 1908 the fencing of the original park area was completed. In 1913 the area was changed from its game preserve status to a National Park. It was not until 1922 that 36 sections (the southern part) were added to the park, with the addition of a few other small parcels of land from time to time.
There were many animals already within the fenced portion but the local residents, who originally requested that area be so preserved, were promised at that time that there would be at least 24 elk and 35 deer within the fenced area.
There seems to be no official record of the establishment of the fence or of the animals that were subsequently introduced, but there is a story handed down from one of the early settlers north of Cooking Lake who is now deceased.
Louie Daniel was his name. He was a Metis, well versed in the ways of the wild and a leader among men; slight build, weight around 135 pounds, wiry, with great stamina, about 5 feet 7 inches in height with jet black hair; an excellent horseman and a crack shot He was known far and wide as a matchless guide and a man to depend upon.
He was given the contract of rounding up a nunber of the wapiti and getting them inside the newly fenced area of Elk Island Park.
He chose 12 young men whom he knew he could depend on to do the right things at the right time in the woods. They were all well mounted and they travelled far to the south and east and established their camp on the Hudson’s Bay lands in the southern part of Beaver Hills They scouted the surrounding country for many miles during the next few days’ and, in so doing, they got the lie of the land and ascertained that game was plentiful enough for the drive.
Early one morning they broke camp and rode quietly many miles more, still to the southeast. In the chilly pre-dawn they separated, each one several hundred yards from the other, and started working their way slowly northward toward the park. There was no excitement just a quiet, orderly, slow trek forward with an occasional glimpse of an elk drifting ahead of them.
It was a slow, difficult drive as elk cannot be driven like cattle. They have to move forward more or less of their own accord without being panicked or hurried and in some places it took over two hours to move them 100 yards. The riders spread into a half circle behind and on each side with the game forming a sort of island in the centre., moving slowly but surely ever forward.
There was one gigantic bull elk with a set of antlers that made him outstanding that they had sighted early the first morning of the drive, and when the word was passed along to tighten up the half circle it was also to watch for this prize specimen. But as the days passed with never another glimpse of him Louie Daniels began to fear that the wily elk had eluded them, and he silently resolved to return and stay in the Beaver Hills until he got at least another look at him.
There was quite a section of fence laid flat and men spread far out on either side waiting as the last day waned and the drive neared the end. The animals were herded quickly and successfully into the park without ever guessing that they were to spend the rest of their lives within the enclosure.
Everyone was well satisfied with the drive except the man who planned it and he wanted that big elk.
Later he quietely prepared for a lengthy stay and went back into the hills. He was an experienced hunter, but for once he seemed to have met his match.
He got only one long shot at the fleeing form of the old monarch. Although he followed the tracks for two days he didn’t sight him again and had just about concluded that he must have missed when in the heart of the thicket he found where the old warrior had stopped to rest. When he went on there were uneven tracks as if the elk walked with a limp.
It was growing late in the day, so he hurried on, following the tracks, hoping to sight his quarry before dark. The elk was headed for the lake where the islands were close to shore. Although it was late in November the ice was not too safe.
“Surely,” thought Louie, “he will not risk crossing that spring-fed lake to an island.”
But the elk was wounded, weary and hungry and that was just what he intended to do. If he could get across and hidden securely in the little hay meadow that was invariably in the heart of the impenetrable thicket that formed each island his instinct must have told him he would be safe until his painful wound healed.
He was about half way across, in the centre of the channel where there was twelve feet of water, when Louie emerged from the bush and caught sight of him.
In the fading light it was hard to see but he took a chance on another long shot and the elk fell heavily. The ice cracked ominously and as the elk struggled to rise it sank beneath him.
As the early darkness settled like veiling smoke over the lake, a coyote howled eerily, and the waters closed silently over his head. So ended the last chapter in the life of the old monarch of the hills.
On a bright sunny day in June, many years later, with the waters of the lake a full 10 feet lower, around the same island appeared a green Peterborough
boat with a red-haired girl of 16 years and a small blond boy rowing. They detoured a few feet in their course to avoid what appeared to be a snag protruding from the water.
Suddenly the boy said, “Wasn’t it along here some place that elk was supposed to be? Let’s go back!!”
So with the curiosity of youth they backed water a few feet and discovered that it was horns they had seen.
The water was shallow and after a struggle in which they were in great danger of overturning their boat in the bottomless black mud which formed the boggy north shore, they succeeded in retrieving a magnificent set of antlers which belonged to the huge elk of the long ago.
Perfectly kept by the alkaline water, they are now polished and preserved for posterity. Mounted high above a doorway facing the rising sun, the ancient monarch keeps silent vigil over the Beaver Hills where he ruled so long ago.
“It’s a strange world isn’t it?” said Bob Harris looking speculatively at the rack. “You were the small boy, eh? You and your sister found the last resting place of the old elk.
“I can see why you grew up to be a naturalist, but it is a coincidence that you are with Ducks Unlimited working on the same old lake.”
ORGANIZATION OF DISTRICTS THAT NOW MAKE UP THE COUNTY OF BEAVER NO. 9
MUNICIPAL DISTRICT OF CORNHILL
In 1903 when the Local Improvement Ordinance was passed to provide for the organization of self-governing Local Improvement Districts this area consisted of four townships. The secretary for this set-up was the late Mr. Thomson. This organization existed until 1912 when the Rural Municipality Act was passed allowing nine townships to an area with six councillors.The area not being classed as an organized area became the Rural Municipality of Cornhill No. 487 and held its first meeting January 6th 1913 with five Councillors. The first Reeve was T. J. Glenn and T.J. Rogness the first Secretary. The name of the municipality was chosen at the first meeting. Quite a number of names were submitted of which Cornhill was one. The name is of historic interest also, it dating back to the 12th century in the City of London, England. A road running between Poultry and Leadenhall streets bearing the name of Cornhill for 700 or more years. It was suggested that the site was an ancient corn (grain) market, though of this there is no actual record. It is now a busy street. The name Cornhill had a pleasant sound and there were visions of plenty of food – hence the name was chosen.
1914 saw six Councillors elected. T.J. Rogness was secretary until January 1915, when other business obligations forced him to resign. John Weatherill, father of Harold Weatherill, later a councillor for this area, then became secretary and held the office until his death in March 1928. Routine business was carried or until this small district became a part of the enlarged District in 1943.
MUNICIPAL DISTRICT OF BEAVER LAKE NO. 486
The history of the Ryley District is very much the same as that of Viking and Tofield. Being situated between
the two the same trails were used and the living conditions of the pioneers were alike. A Post Office was set up for this area on the east side of Beaver Lake and one to the south.
The Ryley District is also a mixed farming area. The district had a large creamery and cheese factory which was destroyed by fire caused by a lightening strike in the late 1940’s. It now has a $100,000 milk drying plant. Coal of very good quality is also available from mines at the south end of the district.
Very few records of this District are available but according to one of the old timers first Councillors for the Local Improvement District were Mr.Golden., Mr. Albertson., P.P. Kjosness and John H. Hill. This area also began with four townships. It was still an L.I.D. in 1915 but had been enlarged to nine townships.
MUNICIPAL DISTRICT OF PATRICIA NO. 485
This District began as District 25-J-4 consisting of four townships and Councillors Eli Latham,Peter Nelson and J.W. Suddaby and met June 17,1905. Eli Latham was elected Chairman and one member took the minutes. July 1S, 190S a secretary was appointed. December 190S an election was held and one more Councillor was added, namely Mr. Hennessy. This added up to one Councillor for each township. The district remained as such until 1912 when five more townships were added, making a total of nine. Six Councillors were elected and the district was made into six divisions. The district being an Organized Local Improvement District operated under the Local Improvement Act of 1907. The number assigned ta it was 485. First meeting of this nine township area was held February 8, 1913.
MUICIPAL DISTRICT OF IRON CREEK NO. 455
This District began as District 24-J-4 consisting of four townships and Councillors George Loades, J.E. Kringen and Mr. Havener and met May 28, 1906. The next
meeting held August 4, 1906 saw C. Barber present – a fourth Councillor. This district remained as such until 1912 when it became an organized Local Improvement District No. 455 and five more townships added. First meeting of this area was held February 1, 1913.
The Provincial Government had Organized Local Improvement Districts operating under the Local Ordinance Act of 1907 and Rural Municipalities operating under the Rural Municipality Act of 1912. The Organized Local Improvement Districts were remaining as such and preferred the “wait-and-see policy.”
In 1918 the Provincial Goverment passed the Municipal Districts Act. Under this Act the Organized Local Improvement Districts and Rural Municipalities became Municipal Districts.
Local Improvement District No. 485 became the Municipal District of Patricia No. 485 and the first Reeve was M. McDiarmid.
Local Improvement District No. 486 [sic, shd. read 455] became the Municipal District of Iron Creek No. 455, first Reeve was Henry Ovens.
Local Improvement District No. 486 became the Municipal District of Beaver Lake No. 486, first Reeve was B. Lillemoe.
From the records it would appear that the Municipal District of Cornhill No. 487 had been a Rural Municipality in 1913. First Reeve of the Municipal District of Cornhill No. 487 was William Thomson.
1943 saw many nine township districts become a new enlarged district of which this area was one. The District included Municipal District of Cornhill No.487, Municipal District of Beaver Lake No. 486, Municipal District of Patricia No. 485 and Municipal District of Iron
Creek No. 455, a total of thirty-five townships. The number and name assigned to the district was Municipal District of Ryley No. 480. The first Reeve was Henry Ovens and the Secretary-Treasurer was J. W. McMullen, former Secretary-Treasurer of the Municipal District of Beaver Lake No. 486. The name given the District was for organization purposes only. At the meeting of Council March 13, 1943 the name was changed to Municipal District of Beaver No. 480. On April 1, 1945 the Department of Municipal Affairs assigned new numbers to many districts. This one then became Municipal District of Beaver No. 73.
As time went on it was considered necessary to change the boundaries so that the Municipal District and the School District covered the same territory. This meant that for School bus transportation boundaries had to be changed to suit natural barriers.
Effective January 1, 1955 some territory was added at the east end of the district., some on the south and a small portion to the north. Some was taken away on the west and the south west corner. This coterminous area covers approximately 1400 square miles.
First Reeve of the revised area was John P.Rozmahel and Secretary-Treasurer J.W. Letourneau.
In November 1957 the Municipal Council applied for County status and effective January 1, 1958 the Municipal District of Beaver No. 73 became the County of Beaver No. 9. The first Reeve being John P.Rozmahel, and Secretary-Treasurer Olof Monsson, Superintendent of Schools was H.A. Pike.
In December 1967 an addition was started to the County office located at Ryley. This was completed in late spring of 1968.
January 1, 1969 – Reeve of the County is J.H. Roddick; Secretary-Treasurer, A. Robert Cross and Superintendent of Schools, Marvin S. Bruce who, while on leave of absence, is replaced by W. Bock.