Archive for September, 2016|Monthly archive page

Stewart Cruikshank – by Marcel DeZutter

In Alix, Alberta on September 30, 2016 at 9:37 AM

Stewart Cruickshank was born at Keene, Ontario….

Around the turn of the century he arrived in Lacombe, Alberta, where he sold real estate and did carpenter work.  While there he married Minnie Schwerdfiger, who came from the Provost country.

When the Canadian Pacific Railroad was built east, the Cruikshanks moved to Alix.  Stewart had a real estate office here…. Stewart also helped build the Red and White Store….

He and Mr. Yarwood bought three quarters of Section 5,Tp. 39, R. 41, and part of Section 8, Tp. 39, R.41 in partnership.  This land lies along Buffalo Lake in the South Buffalo Lake School District.  In 1922, Tom Cruikshank, Stewart’s nephew, moved up from Fox Valley Saskatchewan, and bought out Mr. Yarwood’s share of the land.  When the old Grand Hotel was demolished in Alix, Stewart bought the lumber and built a house on the farm.  The name “Grand Hotel” was visible on the boards for some years.

Stewart was a great entertainer and was very well read. He loved to play bridge….

Mrs. Cruikshank passed away in 1933, and Stewart in 1945.  They are buried in the Alix Cemetery.

This article is excerpted from Gleanings After Pioneers and Progress published by the Alix Clive Historical Society, 1981, Friesen Printers, Calgary.

W.G. Heath by W.G. Heath (in a letter to Mrs. Alice Nielsen)

In Alix, Alberta on September 22, 2016 at 9:14 PM

I cam to Edmonton…March 26th, 1912.  I noticed in the paper that Stanton School, Alix, wanted a supply teacher for a few weeks….

I phoned Mr. C.C. McDermand and told him I had taught in Ontario…. We met as arranged. He had a team of horses and a wagon….

On our way to his place I asked him if he knew of a place where I could stay.  He asked me if I could milk….He told me he was very busy getting ready for spring on his farm, and that his wife wanted some help in getting up the cows from the pasture, milking and separating.  He said if I would accommodate them they would give me room and board.  Well, I told him I would.

The next morning he took me to the school and introduced me to the pupils, some 25 of them, in all grades One to Eight…. I taught for six weeks and was paid the huge sum of sixty dollars….

This is one thing I will never forget.  When I was a boy, I set traps…and I always got muskrats and learned how to pelt them.

Near McDermand’s farm was a small lake and a great many muskrats.  I used Mr. McDermand’s shot gun and traps while I was there and I got 12 muskrats and sold their hides for 60 cents each.  Mrs. McDermand was a wonderful cook.  When I pelted the muskrats, she warned me to be very careful of the carcasses.  She would take those carcasses and do something with them.  She soaked them in a brine of some kind for a few days and then cooked them.  At first the thought of eating muskrat made me ill.  However after tasting the meat I really thought it very good.

This article is excerpted from  Gleanings After Pioneer and Progress  published by Alix-Clive Historical Club, 1981, Friesen Printers, Calgary.


from “Valentine F.Neis – By B. Parlby”

In Alix, Alberta on September 15, 2016 at 9:20 PM

Born in 1846 at Hessendarmstead, Germany, he came to America with his parents when he was only 5 years old.  The voyage across the Atlantic took 42 days in the sailing craft of that time.  The family came directly to Illinois…

Neis came to Canada in 1886 and spent 4 years in the gold mines of Findlay Creek, B.C.  From there he came to Calgary in 1890….He must have had some first hand knowledge of the Buffalo Lake area before this, for it was he who told the Westheads about the good ranching country which attracted them here….

Valentine Neis must have taken up a homestead near Lamerton as early as 1891, or possibly earlier, for numerous entries in Walter Parlby’s diaries for 1892 mention his coming through along the Buffalo Lake Trail…. [T]he diary lists both Valentine and his brother,Henry, as amongst the group who helped in the building of St. Monica’s Church in 1895.

There were only a very few white settlers here at the time, and necessary supplies had to be brought from west of Ponoka….. He met his future wife and they were married in 1897….

Neis continued to do hundreds of miles of travelling through the country, Wetaskiwin to Ponoka, doing custom threshing with his horse power outfit which was the first threshing machine in the district, or witching wells….

Thanks to the Calgary Daily Herald, Sat. Nov. 28, 1936 and the Herald Magazine, Sat. Jan. 25, 1964, and Glenbow Archives.

This article is from the book Pioneers and Progress, a history of the Alix-Clive area printed in 1974 by DW Friesen and Sons Ltd., Calgary.  Copies of it and of its follow-up Gleanings are available for sale at the Alix Public Library, Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, and Alix Home Hardware




Stories of Pearl McDermand nee Gessleman from Pioneers & Progress

In Alix, Alberta on September 10, 2016 at 10:35 AM

The Pearl (Gessleman) McDermand Story from Two Articles in Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974,  Friesen, Calgary

From “The Gessleman Family – by Elaine Van Alstyne

One of the earlier families to settle in the Stanton District was that of … Mr. & Mrs. Edward Gessleman.  Their move to Canada occurred fairly early in life….[in 1912-13]

In March 1920….[t]he Gesslemans moved to a farm adjoining the land they had owned originally.  Living quarters had to be erected on the undeveloped land, so a hastily constructed garage was put up….But the house was not the only difficulty, they had no well, and, because of frozen ground did without one all that winter.  One thing they had plenty of, however, was snow, but as soon as that melted and the ground thawed, they dug what turned out to be a flowing well.

It was on July 30, 1920, that the Gessleman’s(sic) first daughter, Pearl Marie, was born.

From “Charles and Pearl McDermand”

We were both born and raised in the Stanton District, Charlie just east of the school, and Pearl, nee Pearl Gessleman, west of the school.  We were married in 1941 and lived in Charlie’s folks’ yard, in a small house that had been built of native poplar luber by Grandpa Mac in the early 1920’s.

In the fall of 1942, we moved our house a mile south…and started out on our own.

In 1966, we sold our dairy herd and went into beef cattle, after milking for 25 years.

One of the highlights of our life was when the power came to our area.

We have three children, Darryl… Lynne… and Gail.

We feel it is quite unique that we have both lived continuously within a two mile radius of our birthplace for over fifty years.

Alix Board of Trade

In Alix, Alberta on September 9, 2016 at 8:46 AM


The first Alix Board of Trade was organized in 1910 or earlier.  The officers were S. Cruikshank, President; And G.W. Frederick, Secretary.

In their first booklet about Alix, the following people contributed letters: W.J. Carroll, J.N. Guss (Content P.O.), Charles Stothard, Philip Neis (Lamerton P.O. Box 58), Charles E. Stone, Nora C. Trench, S. Cruikshank, C.M. Yarwood, and E. Goater-E.M.H. Parlby.



The organizational meeting was held in the U.F.A. Hall on February 4, 1946.  The officers were: President, Norman Palleson; Vice-President, Stewart McGimpsey; Secretary Treasurer, Len Johnson.

Various activities and projects have been sponsored by the Board of Trade and Agriculture or assisted by this group.  Delegations were sent to the Department of Highways to promote the paving of the number 12 Highway.

A very active committee investigated the possibility of a Municipal Hospital for Alix which was later refused on the grounds of location and was placed in Bashaw, Alberta.

Assistance was given in all possible ways during the building of the Arena.

Promotion has been given to the establishment of the Local Fire Brigade, Christmas street lighting, 4H Clubs and the Alix Lake Development.


These articles are from the book Pioneers and Progress, a history of the Alix-Clive area printed in 1974by DW Friesen and Sons Ltd., Calgary.  Copies of it and of its follow-up Gleanings are available for sale at the Alix Public Library, Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, and Alix Home Hardware



In Alix, Alberta on September 8, 2016 at 8:53 PM

From Lamerton to Mirror

From “William George Merkley – as remembered by Mrs. Pearle (Merkley) Heumann”

During the summer of 1903, we moved to Lamerton.  It was at this point that my father opened up his own farm implement and harness shop….  Later my father managed the Lamerton hotel for many years….  We attended the school at Spotted Lake and also attended the school after it was moved to land south of Lamerton.  The Mirror cemetery now occupies this space.

On July 11, 1911 the townsite of Mirror was put on sale by the Grand Trunk Company and the Transcontinental Townsite Company.  Prior to this date, several sections of land were purchased from several farmers.  The town was named after a paper in England called London Daily Mirror.  My father’s land was amongst those sections.  We moved into town where a lot had been given to my father, who built a house and our family lived there for several years….

The railroad found that they had bought too much land.  Some of the land was returned to its former owners.  My father was one of those who again owned his old homestead.

This article is from the book Pioneers and Progress, a history of the Alix-Clive area printed in 1974by DW Friesen and Sons Ltd., Calgary.  Copies of it and of its follow-up Gleanings are available for sale at the Alix Public Library, Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, and Alix Home Hardware






Eve Keats

In Alix, Alberta on September 2, 2016 at 12:00 PM
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Eve Keats, a founder of the museum and a continuous volunteer and board member, at the museum’s 40th anniversary

Eve Keates, nee Allan, was born at home September 22, 1929 on Tanglefoot Lake Farm north of Alix, Alberta to James Rennie Nicol Allan and Olive Elizabeth Allan (nee McDonnell), just weeks before two major events of world importance. The Person’s Case of October 18, 1929 – which her great-aunt Irene Parlby and four other prairie women made possible, and the Wall Street Crash of October 29, 1929 – which began the Great Depression – shaped her life and the lives of many others of her generation. Another event also impacted greatly on Eve’s life: when her father joined the army to fight in World War II, she and her brother, Jim helped their mother to look after the farm. Her indomitable spirit was likely shaped in large part by all of these experiences.

All of Eve’s childhood was spent on the farm and she studied at Hickling and Alix Schools. As a young person, she always loved learning and had a spirit of adventure, no doubt partly inspired by the many visitors to Tanglefoot Lake Farm, who brought stories of travels to many parts of the world. She also loved music and played the ukulele, which she took up again at age 83 following a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, a place she has loved for many years. As a farm child, obtaining an education was very challenging, and involved Eve travelling long distances on horseback or bicycle in inclement weather and occasionally boarding in town with strangers. She furthered her formal education, working as a student waitress and obtaining scholarships so that she could earn a diploma in Home Economics from Olds Agricultural College. She also studied in Calgary at Garbutt’s Business College while working as a short order cook nights and weekends. In later years of her career, she earned a Local Government Administrator’s Certificate.

In keeping with her spirit of adventure and sense of curiosity, Eve travelled alone by ship to Great Britain in 1949, where she stayed for 9 months. She also lived and worked in Toronto, Calgary, and Banff and Yoho National Parks, and Vancouver working in many different fields including the hotel industry, hospital dietetics, and administration; her experience working in administration spanned many different industries – transportation, pulp and paper, automotive, banking, customs brokerage, publishing and manufacturing.

While working in Vancouver, Eve met Keith Keates while skiing on Seymour Mountain; they married in 1954 and had two children, Rennie (1958) and Dale (1962). She spent the early years of marriage working to support Keith’s university studies and his career as a teacher in communities in BC and Alberta. She was later a full-time homemaker while her children were growing up, and cared for her mother who had moved to live with Eve and her family after her husband’s death. As a family, they enjoyed many years of downhill skiing and hiking. With her family and her mother, she returned to the Alix area permanently in 1971, moving back to the family farm north of Alix. Eve and Keith ran a country farm vacations operation for several years and she held a position on the Board of Directors of the David Thompson Country Tourist Association. In the late 1970s, she assumed the role of Municipal Administrator of the Village of Alix, from which she retired in 1986.  During her years working with the Village, Eve was instrumental in the development of many of Alix’s assets, including the nature trail around Alix Lake.  She also oversaw a building boom during which time the population of Alix increased from 585 to 902. Following retirement, she also worked with the Alix Agricultural Society and the Alix Economic Development Committee.

Eve has always been actively involved as a volunteer in the communities in which she has lived, committing her time to endeavours such as 4-H, Save the Children, the Boys Club, IODE and the United Church, including CGIT. In 1980, she was also appointed for three years as a rural Central Alberta representative to the Senate of the University of Lethbridge. Since her retirement, she has continued to be a very active community leader, artist and volunteer, especially with the Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, Alix Food Bank, Parlby Creek Brusketeers, and the United Church. She has also continued the work she began when she was the Municipal Administrator by participating on the Board of the Alix Nature Trail Society, and she was the Co-Chair of the Alix Centennial Planning Committee. In 2008, Eve was recognized with a Caring Canadian award by the Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, who presented the award at a ceremony in Calgary. Since her husband’s passing in 2007 – following a lengthy illness during which time she was full-time caregiver – she has continued to be deeply involved in her community. Any endeavour that enhances and supports human welfare, preservation of and education about local history, the arts, education, and nature and the environment garners her keen interest and support, and she helps out in numerous informal ways with people young and old.

Over the years, Eve has also enjoyed travelling – no doubt inspired by her adventuresome spirit and by her first trip abroad. She has travelled in many parts of Canada and the US including the Hawaiian Islands, California and Arizona, and to Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Morocco, Zanzibar and Kenya, where she visited her daughter for several months in the 1980s. As a young adult, she also travelled extensively in the United States.

Eve has four grand-children and has enjoyed being actively involved in their and their parents’ lives; she is also very appreciative of her extended family and has worked hard to maintain family bonds and appreciation of family history, evidenced by having written a book about her family’s history in the Alix area and abroad. She also has numerous friendships, some that span more than seven decades; she especially enjoys developing friendships with people of all ages and working with young people and has volunteered with activities for children and youth, such as providing art lessons for them, helping out at the Alix MAC School, and creating community through a letter writing project between seniors and children in the special needs class.  Her great-nephew calls Eve “a giver to people of all ages.” She is loved, cherished and respected by family, friends and her community.

October 6, 2013