Archive for November, 2016|Monthly archive page

Perennials and Politics by Barbara Villy Cormack

In Alix, Alberta on November 30, 2016 at 11:16 AM

Perennials and Politics by Barbara Villy Cormack, Sherwood Park: Professional Printing, 1969, 160 pp. $20 softbound.

Barbara Villy Cormack was born in England, and came to Canada in 1914 with her parents and sister.  She attended school in Calgary and graduated from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She married Eric Cormack, and they had three sons.  As well as farming in the Alix area, she wrote novels, poetry, nonfiction, and was a newspaper reporter.  She and her husband  received the Order of Canada and honourary doctorates from the University of Alberta for their work in establishing education for the handicapped.

Irene Parlby nee Marryat, was born in 1868 in England, the eldest child of Elizabeth Lynch and Colonel E. L. Marryat.  She lived in England and in India, where her family was acquainted with the Byng-Hall family. Alix Byng-Hall married Charles Westhead, and they had gone to ranch in the Buffalo Lake District of the Northwest Territories in Canada.  In 1897, Irene went to pay them a visit. There she met Walter Parlby, a neighbouring rancher, and they were married in 1898.

Perennials and Politics is mostly about Irene’s life as a pioneer Albertan.  Although she is best remembered for her role in the “Persons Case” as one of the “Famous Five”, Irene participated in several other important historical events, including the rise of the U.F.A. government in Alberta, where she served as a Cabinet Minister, and  being Canada’s delegate to the League of Nations in Geneva.  Her husband and their son, Humphrey, were staunch supporters of her work.

Those years saw many changes in government as the western provinces gained more population very rapidly, and their relationship with the federal government evolved rapidly.  Irene worked on establishing health and education services. She saw many events, including some that remain controversial to this day such as the Brownlee Seduction Case and the passage of the Sexual Sterilization Act for Mental Defectives.

Irene worked very hard and did a good deal of travelling in her government work, and her health suffered.  She retired from politics in 1935, to Alix.

Irene was not only a politician; she enjoyed drama, music, and community activities to which she contributed time and effort.  She was one of the organizing founders of the library at Alix, among many worthwhile endeavours.   She was also a keen gardener, and experimented with the growing of many plants in the Alberta climate, contributing articles to gardening publications.

Barbara Cormack has shown Irene’s life and the changes in her surroundings and in the world at large.  Barbara was a personal friend, neighbour and admirer of Irene, and has shared many insights, and even some photographs. Barbara’s twenty-five years of farming in the Alix gave her a real understanding of Irene’s life and context, which makes the book enlightening from several angles.

This book is available at Alix Wagon Wheel Museum.

Wilbert McLaren

In Alix, Alberta on November 18, 2016 at 8:06 PM

From “McLaren, Wilbert”

Wilbert McLaren was well known in the north of Alix District…. He was a native of the province of Quebec, obviously of British ancestry and had come to Alberta with his father and brother, James.  He is remembered by his neighbours for all the carpentering and building he did, Rosses’ (Butlers’), Cormack’s (sic) (Webbs’),  Key’s (now Raybould’s)[1973] are just a few.

Mr. McLaren Sr. claimed that any carpenter worth his salt could put up a house without a level or a square; all he needed was a good eye.  Needless to say, some of his buildings while sturdily constructed were, to say the least, unique.

Wilbert was a trained carpenter, used a square, and was a thorough workman.  Any of the houses he constructed are still standing in 1973, except one or two taken down by human hands.

From Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

Pool Hall

In Alix, Alberta on November 15, 2016 at 9:35 AM
Museum Mural

Museum Mural

the museum building was once a a pool hall with living quarters in the back.

Archie and Ivy Loughridge

In Alix, Alberta on November 11, 2016 at 2:25 PM

From “Loughridge, Archie and Ivy – As told by Ivy”

Archie Loughridge was born in Roxborough, Ontario, September 7, 1886.  He came west with his parents.  Ivy Inis Carroll came from Kansas, U.S.A. with her parents in 1903….

They came to the Alix area in 1910.  In 1918 Archie bought a farm west of Alix from Jack Mackie and in November of that year he married Ivy Carroll.  In 1929 … they bought a house in Alix from Bill Kraft.  It was near the school (Mrs. Carter own it now [1974].)  there was a red barn and a chicken house, where they kept white Sussex hens in the back, where the school grounds are now.  They had one cow, but as there was a demand for milk, they got more cows until they were milking five and selling milk around town.  This was depression time and the $28.00 or so a month they made, kept the family of seven in food, clothing, and necessities.  They rented pasture south of Lindsay Lyle’s place [1974] .  when the grass was short the girls would herd them on land nea where the golf course is now.  During this time, Archie too was working hard at whatever he could do that would boost the family income.  …

One Hallowe’en a bunch of boys pulled Archie’s wagon and hayrack up on main street.  Archie was very ill at the time.  Bud Todd, in his good-natured way talked to the boys and reasoned it would be a good idea if they would put it back.  They did…..

Archie took his family back to the farm in 1939…. They stayed there until 1959; then they bought a house from Reg Gabert and moved back to town.

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.

Author Visit to Alix Thurs. Nov. 24 2016

In Alix, Alberta on November 10, 2016 at 10:23 AM

Branching Out – Writing Family History with Others:

Processes, Rewards, and Challenges

Presenter: Lorraine Lohr Cathro


Thursday, November 24, 2016     7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Alix Public Library, 4928 Main Street, Alix, Alberta

Hosted by Alix Wagon Wheel Museum and Alix Public Library

Everyone is Welcome. Refreshments will be served.  




About the Presentation:
Lorraine’s second book, Branching Out: Adventures & Roots, brings people and events alive on the page in a blend of family stories and history, some of which include the ideas and writings of others. It’s the processes used and the rewards and challenges of that collaborative writing that she will discuss in her presentation. Lorraine’s website:

Clive Red Cross in the World Wars

In Alix, Alberta on November 7, 2016 at 8:20 PM

From “Clive (Valley City)”

During World War I Clive had a very active Red Cross Society.  Large sums of money were raised at suppers, bake sales, teas, etc.  An abundance of knitted socks and sweaters were made by the women of the community and given to the Society.  The Red Cross was also very active during World War II.  Every Saturday tea was served by two women of the community and, again, lots of knitted goods were turned in as well as hospital supplies such as pyjamas and bed jackets, etc.  At the end of World War II, a group of women met and formed the Welcome Home Club.  This club had a party in the community hall, honoring sometimes one or more returned men.  Each single man was presented with a leather shaving kit, and for those returning with a bride, a community shower was held.

From Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Society, 1974

Pearl McDermand (nee Gessleman)

In Alix, Alberta on November 4, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Alix Wagon Wheel Museum Association announces the addition of Pearl McDermand to the “Women of Aspenland” section of

Pearl, often called “Pearlie,” was born July 30, 1920,  on the Gessleman farm in a garage where the family was living as their house was not yet finished.  She had two older brothers, Bill and Harvey, and later there was a younger sister, Shirley.
She took all her schooling at Stanton School.  The kids rode an old work horse to the school.  One day, the horse stumbled and died as the kids slid off his back.  This past June, 2016, she was at the annual school picnic, cheering on her great grandchildren as they ran races.  She told them how she had been a fast runner and, even though small, could beat all the big kids, even Charlie.
Pearl and Charles,”Charlie” McDermand were married January 20, 1941 at the Gessleman farm. She recalled how the “spuds” boiled over during the ceremony as her mother had forgotten to turn them down.  In their first year of marriage, they lived on the McDermand homestead in a little house built by Charlie’s grandpa.  In 1942, they put the house on four big skid logs, hooked tractors on, and pulled it a mile south, without even cracking a window.The well was a quarter of a mile from the house until 1949 when they drilled a good one in the yard.  Farming was done with horses.  Their first tractor was an Allis Chalmers, which cost $600.00. Their family was complete with a son and two daughters.  Their loving marriage lasted just over 50 years.  After Charlie’s passing in 1991, Pearlie lived on the farm another 13 years.
Pearlie always had a large vegetable garden which she canned and froze. She also picked wild fruit, which she likewise canned and froze, along with rhubarb and peaches.  She made jams, and jellies and wonderful pies.  She loved to grow flowers, especially begonias and geraniums. She also enjoyed her pet cats.
In 1971, the first of nine grandchildren arrived.  Pearlie called 1979 the “bumper crop year” when three grandbabies arrived in a span of  three and a half months. Her first great grandchild arrived in 1998 and had 15 “great grands” by 2016.
In later years, Pearlie and Charlie travelled on bus tours, visited Florida several times with Paul and Gail, and enjoyed camping out west with Darryl and Wendy for Thanksgiving weekends, and around Alberta with Lynn and Larry.

Pearlie lived in Lakeview Manor in Alix for ten years, where she enjoyed the Village activities.  She always loved sports, playing  crib, and writing poetry.  She was an active member of the United Church, and walked in the Walkathon 13 times, the last time at age 90.  In 2013, she composed the following poem, which she memorized as she could not see to write it down:
I love the fall when Indian summer comes
And trees are dressed in colors gold and red.
The sky’s a deeper blue than in the summer sun
And flocks of geese in V’s fly overhead.
The sound of combines floats far in the night,
While trucks fill bins near bursting at their seams
The wives make meals and lunches at odd hours
Between the times they’re running all the various machines.
The garden’s bounty’s ready for the harvests,
Beets, carrots, squash and pumpkin, ears of corn,\
Tomatoes ripe, the bins await potatoes,
Before a killing frost comes in the early morn.
Then Mother Nature calls and leaves drift slowly down
Ready to be raked in golden heaps,
The flowers fade and die, their summer beauty gone,
Pots are emptied, beds are spaded deep.
Long lines of straw bales lie along the fence
Indian Summer, as it must, draws to a close.
By Hallowe’en big snowflakes start to fall,
The earth is stilled for winter’s long repose.
Each year we see the seasons come and go,
All have a purpose just the way God planned,
The pattern of our lives is much the same,
From birth to death, then rest on Heavens strand.