Contact Us | About the Society | Membership | Sitemap   

  ACR pier Taylor Drive Red Deer

Forth Junction Project
Media Heritage News
Red Deer

Forth Junction Project Vision Sharing Historical Perspective Ground Transportation
Heritage Preservation
Forth Junction
Heritage Society

News - Forth
Junction HS

News - Rail Heritage
Central Alberta

News - Alternate

News - Railway

News - Regional
History & Culture
News - Destinations
and Tourism

Red Deer


Colonization & Settlement of Central Alberta

News articles about heritage in Red Deer that complement
the objectives of the Forth Junction Heritage Society

Proposed International Village
Red Deer group is pushing to create a local
'international village' to promote unity

A city made up of immigrants has no place for intolerance, say group members
Jan. 18, 2019, Red Deer Advocate (Lana Michelin)
Disheartened by inflamed anti-immigrant sentiment, a Red Deer group wants to revive a decades-old plan to start an international village in the city. It's time to remind people where their descendants came from -- and how various cultures make up the fabric of central Alberta, says group member Betty Wulff, of the city's Norwegian Laft Hus Society. "It's time to go back and be proud of what your parents and grandparents

Oct. 18, 2017, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
The history behind some of Red Deer's parks
Gaetz Park 1911 Peel Postcard   One of the significant attractions of Red Deer is its extensive parks and trails system.
   In various public surveys, those parks and trails are often cited as our community's biggest asset.
   In early Red Deer, there was initially not much concern about town planning and the development of parks. The Town was a small collection of frame and brick buildings with large open spaces between them.
   However, as the Town began to rapidly grow and develop after the turn of the last century, more attention was given to town planning and the creation of parks.
   One of the first public areas subsequently created was the Civic Square (now City Hall Park) which was acquired by the Town in 1901.
   Another was the CPR Park, created east of the train station, which would allow travelers a spot to stretch their legs while they took a break from their long gritty trip on the steam trains.
   In 1907, Town council began discussions about acquiring the area where Waskasoo and Piper Creeks joined as a possible park. However, the cost of the land seemed high and there were more pressing priorities in the Town budget.
   In 1909, Halley Hamilton Gaetz, made a very generous proposal to the Town.
   He had been very active in public affairs, serving on Town council and as mayor in 1907 and 1908. Moreover, his parents, Rev. Leonard and Catherine Gaetz, had recently passed away. He wanted to do something in their memory.
   He consequently offered a gift of six acres, extending along the river from his home on Douglas (55th) St. to the mouth of Waskasoo Creek.
   He also indicated that his brother-in-law, George Wilbert Smith, would be willing to consider the offer of an additional piece of land, extending west to the Gaetz Avenue traffic bridge.
   Town council was enthusiastic about the donation.
   It would give the community a beautiful park that would include picnic areas, but would mainly be left in a natural state. A decision was quickly made to name the area Gaetz Park in honour of the donor.
   H.H. Gaetz's gift acted as a catalyst for further park planning. Town council revived the idea of acquiring 40 acres on the south side of town, again as a picnic and recreational area, but also as a beautiful wooded spot which would be left largely in its natural state.
   An offer of $7,000 was made to the C&E Townsite Company to purchase the land. In the spring of 1910, the ratepayers voted in favour of the by-law authorizing the borrowing of the necessary funds. In January 1911, Town council voted to officially name the new parkland Waskasoo Park.
   A few years later, council adopted the name, The Garden City, as the official motto for the City.
   Over the following decades, the City of Red Deer acquired other parcels of land along the Red Deer River as well as Waskasoo and Piper Creeks.
   A large amount of this land was acquired during the real estate bust that followed the outbreak of the First World War. Many of the landowners defaulted on their taxes and the City subsequently assumed title to their properties.
   In the early 1980s, the City, with generous funding from the Provincial Government, began the development of an urban corridor park along the river and creeks. In 1982, this new park system was officially designated Waskasoo Park and the name was no longer just used for the parcel on the south side of the downtown core.
   A walking trail system had already been started in Red Deer, initially with a generous grant from the Devonian Foundation.
  The Waskasoo Park project greatly expanded and enhanced that walking trail system and made it a key feature of current and future park developments.
   Thus, the initial gift of H.H. Gaetz in 1909 of six acres of parkland along the river has become the cornerstone of one of the best and most popular features of our City. It has helped to make our community a much more enjoyable place to live.
Photo: GREAT OUTDOORS - Excursion to Gaetz Park, 1911. Included in the photo are G.W. Smith, Stan
  Carscallen, Joseph Wallace and Philip Chadsey. The name of the dog was not recorded.
  Photo from Peel's Prairie Postcards.

August 28, 2013, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Remembering the Labour Day weekend
of 1913

Another Labour Day long weekend will soon be upon us.
   It is often regarded as the unofficial end of summer. For many, it is often the last holiday before the start of school.
   Labour Day is also one of the oldest of Canada's national statutory holidays. On July 23, 1894, the Conservative Government of Sir John Sparrow Thompson made the first Monday in September into a nation-wide public holiday.
   For much of its early history, there was little labour union activity in Red Deer. Because the Calgary-Edmonton Railway (C.P.R.) was the biggest employer in the community, the railway workers union was the first and most prominent union.
   There was also generally good public support for that union because so many people belonged to it or had some sort of family or personal connection with a member.
   In the spring of 1900, the railway workers went on strike, mainly for higher pay. They wanted their salaries raised from $60 to $65 per month with those being paid by the day getting $1.65. For those who relied on the Company for their accommodations, they wanted their boarding charges to be capped at $4 per week.
   The local newspaper correspondent pointed out that the Calgary-Edmonton line was the most profitable of all Canadian railways of equal mileage. He also wrote "Under present conditions the public is extremely inconvenienced and business is paralyzed. If this Railway cannot pay men a living wage, perhaps the government should increase the $80 million a year mail subsidy and help them out."
   Despite the prominence and general popularity of the rail union in Red Deer, Labour Day almost always passed without any kind of community events or ceremonies.
   Another reporter later wrote "It is unusual to have anything in the way of sports going on in Red Deer on Labour Day. Most citizens make arrangements to go away visiting friends or duck shooting etc."
   Finally, on Sept. 1, 1913, the local Loyal Orange Lodge decided to organize a Labour Day event at the Red Deer Fairgrounds.
   A baseball game was arranged between Penhold and Red Deer. There were to be some other athletic events, principally foot races and a tug-of-war contest between a team made up of members of the Red Deer Citizens Band (the forerunner of the Red Deer Royals) and the local Orange Lodge.
   The organizers did not expect a large turnout for the events, but were pleasantly surprised when "quite a nice crowd" showed up. The afternoon opened with the usual short speeches of greeting from such dignitaries as Mayor Francis Galbraith and Alderman William Piper.
   Rev. W.G. Brown of the Presbyterians and Rev. John Bennett of the local Baptists provided the invocations and short religious addresses.
   Edward Michener, the local MLA, was supposed to be in attendance, but was unable to attend at the last minute. Consequently, a telegram of greetings was read out on his behalf.
   A large picnic lunch was served in one of the exhibition buildings on the grounds. The sports events then commenced. Red Deer beat Penhold in the baseball game by a score of 16 to 6. The Orangemen easily beat the Band members in tug-of-war. Considerable interest was also shown in a contest for 'most popular lady' with a gold watch being the prize.
   After a supper was served, the day concluded with a concert by the Citizens' Band.
   While news reports conceded that the event had "not been great from a numerical standpoint", everyone who did turn out said that they had an enjoyable time.
   There was a hope that the 1914 event would be better attended. Tragically, the First World War broke out that summer. No Labour Day picnic or sporting event was held as all attention had turned to the War effort.

July 31, 2013, Red Deer Express
Interest in Red Deer's history keeps growing
Local officials continue to create ways to explore City's past
Janet Pennington at ghost   A rich and varied emphasis on exploring facets of local history continues to unfold in the city.
   There are lots of fascinating ways to learn about Red Deer's past including several newly-developed walking tours. They were officially introduced last month, but officials say their popularity continues to grow as folks tap into the stories of the City's early days.
   Several walking tours were mapped out in the early 1980s, but City staff felt it was high time to revamp those tours and broaden their historical scope.
   "It's part of a retake of our heritage, and trying to promote our heritage and identity," said Janet Pennington, Heritage Community Development coordinator.
   The new tours are part of the Red Deer Revealed line, and they help to tell the story of our community's vibrant heritage. Red Deerians and visitors alike can choose to go on one or all of the new tours, which will guide them through the City's downtown core. They include The Ghost Collection Tour, First Impressions of Red Deer and Saturday in the City.
   Also included in Red Deer Revealed is a children's activity map and 58 new heritage signs as well. As (Pennington) explains, the signs feature historic photos also.
   "They portray an image of what was."
   Pennington said the search for material to highlight on the tours included counting on members of the community as well. "We didn't want to rely on just two or three people to pick the sights, we really wanted to get some input," One means of doing that was dropping by such events as the Mayor's Garden Party, senior centres and Canada Day celebrations with large community maps.
   People could mark things on the maps that had special historical significance to them.
   "We didn't want the tours to be just a series of old buildings, we wanted some sort of themes as well." The focus initially was on the downtown, but committee members are looking at planning more tours of historic spots throughout the City as well. There are plenty of areas to delve into, from unique manufacturing initiatives to a range of social aspects across time, too.
   "These will be walking, driving or biking tours as well."
   Of course, the bronze ghost series of statues continues to attract lots of attention, and stirs up plenty of questions about the specific stories they represent.
   Pennington said it's a challenge to keep up with demand when it comes to copies of The Ghost Collection Tour brochures. The collection includes 10 life-sized bronze statues placed in and around the downtown core.
   It all started with the popular statue of 'Reverend Leonard Gaetz' near the intersection of Ross St. and Gaetz Ave. The statue was unveiled in 1994.
   'Choices' followed in 1995. This was followed by 'Francis Wright Galbraith' in 1996, 'Francis the Pig' in 1998, 'Sound the Alarm' and 'Reaching Out' in 1999, 'Let the Music Play' in 2003, 'Hazel Braithwaite' in 2004, 'Doris & Mickey' in 2004 and 'Waiting for Gordon' in 2012.
   Francis the Pig, the famous 'ham on the lam', was relocated to Rotary Recreation Park just east of the new spray park. He was located on Little Gaetz Ave. south of 52 St. prior to extensive redevelopment work done in the area.
   The legend of Francis began in July 1990 when he escaped from a local abattoir.
   For nearly five months the fugitive roamed the parklands of Red Deer, eluding predators and several attempts to catch him. This freedom-loving pig was finally captured in early 1991. Unfortunately, shortly afterward, Francis succumbed to injuries he received in the attempt.
   Francis captured the imagination of the nation and won many fans.
   And as (Pennington) said, it's stories like this that enrich the community because of the sense of story and folklore that surround them as well.
   She said the tours have not only been a hit with folks visiting the City, but those who were born and raised here enjoy them because they often bring back a world of memories of how it used to be.
   (Pennington) recalls leading a community history tour, which should have only taken about 45 minutes. "Sometimes people want so much information, the last one was two and one-half hours long. We kept saying do you want us to stop and they said 'No'. So it was lots of fun."
   For more information, check out For more about the City's public art and bronze ghost collection, contact 403-309-4775.
Photo: HERITAGE - Janet Pennington (at 'Sound the Alarm' ghost statue near former downtown fire hall)

June 12, 2013, Red Deer Express (Mark Weber)
New heritage walking tours and signs introduced
examining new heritage sign   There are new ways to experience Red Deer's past with your family.
   Three new heritage walking tours, a children's activity map and 58 new heritage signs were launched recently and all Red Deerians were invited to join in the celebrations.
   The materials are part of the new Red Deer Revealed collection and were unveiled at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery.
   "The launch of these heritage walking tours and the official unveiling of the new signs are exciting additions to Red Deer's year of centennial celebrations," said City Manager Craig Curtis.
   "The tours and signs will provide a wonderful opportunity for people to learn about and interact with and see our community's heritage."
   At the event, participants enjoyed refreshments as they learned about some of the highlights of Red Deer's history and the heritage projects.
   Copies of the three new heritage walking tours and the children's 'Ghost Hunters Activity Map' were also available.
   Local experts also led people on either 'The Ghost Collection' tour or the 'Saturday in the City' tour -- two of the three new tours that are part of the Red Deer Revealed line.
   The Red Deer Revealed heritage walking tours are available online at
   For more information on the heritage programs with the City of Red Deer, call 403-309-6270 or email
Photo: HERITAGE - Merissa Hiltz, 15, examines one of Red Deer's new heritage walking signs located throughout
  the City to enlighten citizens on Red Deer's rich history. Photo by Jenna Swan/Red Deer Express

June 12, 2013, Red Deer Express (Erin Fawcett)
Residential school artifacts
contributed to project

Truth and Reconciliation hearings held in City

   A red brick and a piece of sandstone from the Red Deer Industrial School has become part of a monumental sculpture of remembrance and reconciliation of residential schools.
   Carey Newman, a master carver, will use the historic artifacts from the Red Deer Industrial School in his national Indian Residential School Commemorative art project 'Witness: Pieces of History'.
   "This work will recognize the atrocities of the Indian Residential School era, honour the children, and symbolize ongoing reconciliation," said Newman, from his gallery in British Columbia.
   The pieces of the residential school in Red Deer were given to Project Co-ordinator Rosy Steinhauer at a Feast to Remember the Children which followed a Truth and Reconciliation Committee hearing that took place in Red Deer last week.
   The feast and the hearing were hosted by the Remembering the Children Society of Red Deer.
   Steinhauer is the grand-niece of former Alberta Lt. Gov. Ralph Steinhauer, Canada's first First Nations lieutenant governor, who attended the school as a child.
   "The impact of the Indian residential schools still weighs on our people.
   "My father attended residential school and I have seen firsthand that the experience haunts him to this day," said Newman.
   During the 19th and early 20th centuries, First Nations children were removed from their homes to live-in facilities where they were forbidden to use their language or culture.
   The Red Deer Industrial School operated from 1893 to 1919 by agreement between the federal government and the Methodist Church (which was later to form part of the United Church of Canada).
   "I conceived the Witness Blanket to not only honour my father, but also to leave a legacy for my daughter, so that her generation may continue this journey toward healing and reconciliation," said Newman.
   "I believe that if we bear witness with open hearts and open minds, truth will distinguish itself.
   "Reconciliation has elements of grief, elements of healing and elements of teaching each intertwined with a fundamental pursuit of truth."
   More than just a piece of artwork, the project includes a team that is crossing Canada on gathering trips to collect pieces and stories from the Indian Residential School era.
   The team is looking for wood, brick, glass, shingles, metal, books, photographs and other materials related to this historical era.
   People from all parts of Canada, of all faiths, ethnicities and generations are called on to participate. Contributions can be arranged online, by phone or at gathering trips, and local 'champions' are encouraged to coordinate gathering pieces within local communities.
   "In Salish culture there is a tradition of 'blanketing' - when a blanket is given to offer protection, strength or public recognition. "In that manner, this blanket will stand as a woven testament to our shared history, upholding and honouring the survivors and their families," said Newman.
   "The Witness Blanket will be a tangible patchwork of broken pieces that make up a whole, with the purpose of honouring the history of place and bringing about reconciliation of our past."

April 15, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Susan Zielinski)
A Remarkable hit
New permanent exhibit at museum earns accolades
   Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery's new permanent exhibit on the history of the Red Deer area earned accolades from visitors at its grand opening on Sunday.
   The $1.5 million exhibit -- Remarkable Red Deer: Stories from the Heart of the Parkland -- takes up 4,800 square feet of display space and features more than 400 photographs and 300 artifacts from the MAG collection and Red Deer Archives.
   Several of Red Deer's prominent buildings like Stephenson Hall Block, the train station, Club Cafe and Capitol Theatre, are featured with interactive stations for visitors to learn about the area's rich and sometimes quirky history.
   Technologies used within the exhibit impressed its visitors.
   "The audio stimulus, and then the visual stimulus, are so complementary that you're engaged. It's capturing your attention, but not drawing away from the different elements. I think it's fantastic," said Wendy Moore, of Red Deer, on Sunday.
   Background sounds, like the chugging train, help create an experience for visitors and so do the many details that capture the different decades within the exhibit, said Leslee Burton, of Red Deer.
   Bev Hanes, of Red Deer, said the interactive stations are engaging and visitors to the city will get a good idea of what Red Deer is all about by touring the exhibit.
   "It's wonderful. If you want to learn your history, this is the place to come," said Joanne Ruggles, of Red Deer.
   Robert Zielke, of Red Deer, said the city keeps growing and growing and it's good to reflect back on what it was like in the past.
   The exhibit will hopefully encourage younger generation appreciate all that they have, said Viktor Zielke, of Red Deer.
   Mayor Morris Flewwelling, who was the museum's director for 20 years, said his favourite part of the exhibit is the video and digital recordings that really bring the community to life.
   Visitors can listen to people who helped shape Red Deer and learn why residents came to call Red Deer home, he said.
   Flewwelling has come to the exhibit about three times and still has more he wants to examine.
   "What's important isn't just the artifact, it's the story that goes with it," Flewwelling said.
   The museum didn't want to just tell the story of how the area was developed, but rather what made its residents tick, he said.
   Not only will Remarkable Red Deer be a legacy for Red Deer's Centennial, it will also be a place of learning into the future, Flewwelling said.
   "Red Deer's museum is now on the threshold of a renaissance and a rebirth."
Photo: Actor Paul Sutherland, one of the Ghosts of Red Deer greeting visitors to the museum's Remarkable Red
  Deer exhibit, answered questions during the grand opening of the new exhibit on Sunday.
  Photo by Susan Zielinski.

March 20, 2013, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Looking back to when Red Deer
landed city status

This weekend, Red Deer will be celebrating a very significant milestone in our community's history.
   It was 100 years ago, on March 25, 1913, that Red Deer was officially incorporated as a City.
   Red Deer, at the time, had a population of only 3,000, usually considered too small to become a city.
   However, in 1901, when Red Deer was incorporated as a town, the community had 323 residents.
   Twelve years later, the population had surged nearly 10-fold.
   Many people optimistically predicted would grow to more than 30,000 by the early 1920s.
   There were some solid arguments, other than spirited optimism, to seek city status. Cities were better able to sell debentures, an important consideration for a community that heavily relied on borrowing to finance the construction of new roads, waterworks, power facilities and public buildings.
   Moreover, North Red Deer had become a separate village in 1911 and the residents of Red Deer West (West Park) were investigating the possibilities of incorporation.
   Under provincial legislation, the Town of Red Deer could only annex such areas if it received a petition signed by two-thirds of the residents of the affected area.
   There had already been a petition for annexation submitted by some residents of North Red Deer. Red Deer Town Council wanted to change its charter status so that it could have more flexibility in handling such requests.
   The Town's solicitor, G.W. Greene, presented a draft bill of incorporation at the first Town Council meeting of 1913.
   In order to expedite matters, the draft proposed that the current town charter by simply amended by substituting the word 'city' for the word 'town'
   The only other change dropped the requirement for two-thirds consent for annexation.
   The town councilors unanimously approved the proposals. The new mayor, F.W. Galbraith, then invited the council and town administrators to an oyster dinner at the Crowne Cafe.
   The draft bill was approved by the Municipal Committee of the Alberta Legislature with virtually no debate.
   Edward Michener, who was Red Deer's MLA and also the leader of the official opposition, piloted the bill through the remainder of the legislative process.
   The bill was unanimously approved on March 10th. The Lieutenant Governor gave his assent on March 25th. Red Deer officially became a City.
   Surprisingly, the news was not greeted with much fanfare back in Red Deer.
   The Red Deer Advocate had a front-page article on the incorporation, but it was quite a small one. There were much bigger articles on the announcement of a provincial election and a proposal to build new factories in Red Deer.
   The new City council did announce a competition for the design of an official City coat of arms. Entries were received from all over Canada, but the winner was A.B. Mitchell, a local jeweler. He was awarded a $25 prize for his submission.
   Meanwhile, City council began work on the new City charter, a job which proved to be time consuming and occasionally contentious.
   Mayor Galbraith proposed that all residents, 21 years of age or older, be given the right to vote in municipal elections.
   The majority of aldermen balked at this radical idea. They decided instead to give the vote to all adult property owners.
   This was still a significant advance as it meant that married women with property could now vote, unmarried women and widows with property haven been given this right in 1901.
   There were also arguments over tax exemptions for churches and a minimum tax on lots. The former idea was accepted, while the latter was eventually dropped.
   The Alberta Legislature approved the new city charter with only a few minor changes. With the charter officially approved on Oct. 25, 1913, Red Deer was now fully incorporated as a City.
   Unfortunately, during the move into the new City Hall building in 1964, the original City charter was thrown out.
   A replacement certificate of incorporation was issued by the provincial government on June 29th, 1971.
   That is the document that is now displayed in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

August 24, 2011, Red Deer Express (Mark Weber)
Marking a significant historic milestone
North Red Deer celebrates attaining village status one century ago

   Organizers are gearing up for a very special day of celebration marking the 100th anniversary of North Red Deer becoming a village.
   Things get underway at 1 p.m. on Aug. 27 at the North Cottage School and Koinonia Christian School with master of ceremonies and local historian Michael Dawe.
   Cake-cutting and speeches start at 1:15 p.m., the Youth Aboriginal Dance Troupe performs at 2 p.m. and local musicians Donna Durand and Gordie Matthews perform as well. Several dignitaries will be on hand including Mayor Morris Flewwelling, Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski and Lindsay Blackett, the province's minister of culture and community spirit.
   There will also be children's entertainment, mini-golf, face painting, clowns and balloon artists.
   "It's exciting because I want everyone to come and have a really good time and see people they haven't seen in a long time," said Shirley Hocken, treasurer of the Riverside Meadows Community Association and chair of the Centennial Committee.
   Folks can peruse a number of historical photos on the main floor of North Cottage School as well. The school first opened for classes in the winter of 1912. In 1992, it was declared a Registered Historic Resource.
   "It's gone really well," she adds of the lengthy process of planning the festivities. "There are so many people that have come with all kinds of wonderful ideas on promoting the event."
   Touching base with people who once called the area home or who attended North Cottage School in the past has also been a remarkable experience, she said. Many want to stop by this weekend and catch up with old friends and neighbours.
   North Red Deer didn't amalgamate with the City of Red Deer until the late 1940s, said Hocken, who grew up in the neighbourhood and lives there today. There isn't a whole lot left from days long past, but the district retains a distinct charm all its own, she said.
   "I find that where I live, the neighbours know one another. The yards are big, there's lots of trees and there is easy access to wherever you want to go."
   As a permanent community fixture marking the 100th anniversary, Hocken said a special project by local artists Dawn Detarando and Brian McArthur will be unveiled near the train bridge later this year.
   "That will be the legacy of the celebrations."
   Meanwhile, it's been a remarkable time for the community, as a digitized format of a history book was made available online last year.
   Packed with general history and family anecdotes and memories, the Little Village That Grew - A History of North Red Deer was originally published in 1987 to mark the community's 75th anniversary of incorporation as a village.
   The 600-page book took two years to produce by a team of 10 people. Its release was celebrated with a flurry of activities including a homecoming. Some of the book's proceeds were also used to restore the nearby CPR Bridge. Thanks to the University of Calgary's 'Our Roots' digitization department, the book is available online.
   According to the book, when Red Deer was first settled, it was thought the north area would be largely industrial. "Significant business growth in North Red Deer can be traced, initially, to George H. Bawtinheimer. He established a saw mill in the area in 1904."
   Over the years a number of businesses were established, and mill workers built homes in the vicinity to be close to their work.
   In the fall of 1908, St. Joseph's Convent was built on the hill overlooking the young community and from 1910 to 1912 both Red Deer and North Red Deer flourished.
   In the years following its amalgamation with Red Deer, there were other milestones as well.
   And in 1991, the CPR Bridge was saved from demolition. Profits from the sales of The Little Village That Grew to the tune of $4,170 were donated to the CPR Bridge Endowment Fund.
   To access The Little Village That Grew, check out and in the right column under 'Find a Book' type in the title.

August 4, 2010,
Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Laurier's 1910 visit huge event for City
Laurier Arch 1910 Gaetz & Ross Red Deer   Next week marks an important anniversary in our community's history.
   It was 100 years ago, on Aug. 10 to 12, 1910, that Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, made an extended visit to Red Deer. It was one of the most exciting official visits by a national political figure that Red Deer has ever experienced.
   The visit was part of a two-month long tour of Western Canada. The prairies were the fastest growing part of the country. Since Laurier was acutely aware of the increasing importance of the region to the nation as a whole, he wanted to make an extensive visit to view the progress first hand. He also wanted to learn more about the issues and problems of the West.
   News that Laurier would be including Red Deer as a major stop on his tour was received in early June. Committees were quickly struck to make the necessary plans. The local citizens not only wanted to suitably welcome the Prime Minister to the community, they also wanted to ensure the recognition of Red Deer as one of the centres of growth and prosperity in the West.
   Laurier was scheduled to arrive in Red Deer on the afternoon of Wednesday Aug. 10 on a train from Edmonton. While brief stops were planned for Wetaskiwin, Ponoka and Lacombe on the way, Laurier was not scheduled to leave Red Deer until the morning of Aug. 12. Consequently, several Central Alberta communities agreed to join with Red Deer in organizing a major public meeting in the new Waskasoo Park next to Piper's Mountain on Waskasoo Creek.
   As part of the preparations, a very impressive archway was constructed at the intersection of Gaetz Ave. and Ross St. It had four large towers. It was covered in flags, bunting, sheaves of grain, and local produce. There were large signs with slogans of welcome and boosting Red Deer. The local Western General Electric power company donated several hundred bulbs so that the edifice could be lit up at night.
   Huge crowds greeted Laurier's arrival on the afternoon of Aug. 10. The official party, which included Laurier, Alberta Premier Arthur Sifton, several MPs, MLAs and local elected officials, made their way to the Civic Square on Ross St. for lengthy speeches of welcome.
   Special time was also given to the provincial president of the United Farmers of Alberta, James Bower of Red Deer, so that he could present the concerns and viewpoints of the farmers. So important was the speech to Bower that although he started to have a heart attack, he refused to be taken to hospital until after he had finished making his presentation to the prime minister.
   After the civic reception, everyone headed to a spot on the South Hill for the driving of the first spike for the Alberta Central Railway. The ACR was a very ambitious venture and was part of a plan to help make Red Deer a major rail hub in Western Canada.
   A sudden thunderstorm cut short the large public meeting the next day in Waskasoo Park. All those who were able quickly relocated to the Lyric Theatre on Ross St. where the speeches by the dignitaries continued. Unfortunately, the theatre owners had put heavy coats of shellac on the wooden seats the day before. Many of the attendees consequently left large portions of their clothing behind when they went to leave.
   The visit wrapped up on the Thursday evening with an elaborate reception on the lawn of H.H. Gaetz's large residence on Douglas (55) St.
   Laurier departed early Friday morning after spending a second night in the Ellis mansion on the corner of Douglas St. and Poplar (46) Ave.
   Despite the two thunderstorms and the other glitches, everyone agreed that the visit had been a wonderful success and that Red Deer had successfully asserted its rightful place on the new economic and political map of Canada.
   Laurier also took many of the policy ideas presented to him in Red Deer and elsewhere during his Western tour and included them in his party's platform in the 1911 federal election. Although the result was that Laurier and his Liberals won all but one seat in Alberta, (with a similar result in Saskatchewan), they were defeated nationally by Sir Robert Borden's Conservatives.
Photo: SPECIAL WELCOME - The Laurier Arch on the corner of Ross Street and Gaetz Avenue on Aug. 10, 1910.
  Photo courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives

May 26, 2010, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Red Deer a leader in heritage preservation
   One of the sources of pride in our community is the fact that Red Deer has often been on the leading edge of heritage preservation in Alberta and across Western Canada.
   In 1964, Red Deer's City council established the first municipal archives in the province. In 1972-1973, the Red Deer and District Museum was created and was later named the model museum of its size in Canada.
   Meanwhile, the provincial government began a program of formally designating historic sites and buildings across the province.
   In 1977, St. Luke's Anglican Church became the first provincially designated historic resource in the City. However, eight years would pass before a second provincial historic resource, the Allen Bungalow, was designated.
   With the process of provincial historic site identification and designation proceeding quite slowly, Red Deer undertook its own heritage initiatives. In June 1979, the Red Deer and District Museum Society and the Red Deer River Naturalists joined together to foster local historic site preservation.
   In 1981, City council decided to create an official Historical Preservation Committee, which picked up on the work started by the earlier grassroots group. The new committee was given the mandate to advise City council on "those buildings and areas that could be considered historically significant and make recommendations on conservation and preservation priorities".
   A flurry of action followed. In October 1982, the Cronquist House became the first municipally designated historic resource in Alberta. It had not been eligible for provincial heritage designation because the structure had been moved from its original site in West Park to a new location at Bower Ponds.
   Shortly thereafter, in 1983, Red Deer Fire Hall No. 1 (now the Red Deer Children's Library) became Alberta's second municipally designated heritage resource.
   The Heritage Preservation Committee also had the Michener Centre Administration Building (Alberta Ladies College) and the J.J. Gaetz Residence designated as municipal heritage resources. This was the first time that provincially-owned historic sites had been given municipal protection.
   The Heritage Preservation Committee realized that it was important to increase public awareness of Red Deer's historical sites and stories. Hence, Lawrie Knight-Steinbach was hired to produce historical walking tour booklets for the downtown, Gaetz Park and Parkvale areas. She also wrote a highly successful Red Deer Cemetery tour.
   As North Red Deer has its own unique history as a separate village from 1911-1947, a walking tour booklet was printed by Alberta Historic Sites Service and the Heritage Preservation Committee for that district, now known as Riverside Meadows.
   In 1990, the first federal historical designation occurred with the old CPR Station on Ross Street. This designation was later superceded by first municipal and then provincial registered heritage designations.
   In 1999, the Heritage Preservation Committee (which had become a sub-committee of the Normandeau Cultural and Natural History Society) prepared an inventory of historically significant resources. This inventory list was subsequently officially adopted by the City of Red Deer under the land use bylaw.
   In 2002, the Heritage Preservation Committee started the Heritage Recognition Awards to recognize outstanding projects in heritage conservation and heritage preservation in the City of Red Deer and Red Deer County. The first recipient was the CPR Rail Bridge preservation project.
   A new Heritage Management Plan was adopted by City council in 2006. A new detailed inventory of historic sites in the City was started in the fall of 2007. This past year, Red Deer's City council decided to again make the Heritage Preservation Committee a body that reports directly to council.
   In February 2010, Red Deer County became the first rural municipality in Alberta to systematically identify its historic sites and complete a detailed Heritage Management Plan.
   On Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:30 a.m., the 2010 Heritage Awards will be announced by the Heritage Preservation Committee at ceremonies at the Red Deer County Council Chambers. All are welcome to attend.

Jan. 27, 2010, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
A long memorable journey for
Red Deer's museum

Red Deer Museum postcard 1980s   On Monday, Feb. 15 (Family Day), the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery will be holding an official grand reopening after the completion of a $2.8 million renovation project.
   The building has been closed since last April as significant improvements have been made to the galleries and front-end areas.
   The museum has been a major feature of our community for nearly 40 years, but there had been an earlier museum in Red Deer more than 100 years ago. This pioneer museum had been originally started in Innisfail, but was moved to Red Deer in 1907 by Dr. Henry George, a noted local physician and naturalist, and his wife Barbara, a noted naturalist and artist, who was also the designer of Alberta's provincial crest.
   The George Museum was located in a large two-storey addition to the George's home on the northwest corner of Ross St. and 48 Ave. The museum included an impressive collection of natural history specimens, First Nations artifacts, artwork, library books and historical artifacts. Admission was 25 cents, but children were admitted free of charge.
   In 1922, Dr. George suffered a heart attack. He and his wife then decided to move to the west coast. Their museum was offered first to the City of Red Deer and then to the Province of Alberta. When both declined, most of the collections were dispersed to private collectors, although a small number of pieces eventually ended up with the Central Alberta Pioneers and Old Timers Association.
   Thus, a tremendous treasure of natural and human history, fine art, literary works, reference books and educational resources were permanently lost to the community.
   Over the years, there were sporadic proposals to create a new museum, but nothing concrete, ever occurred. In 1938, when the Old Timers Association rebuilt part of Fort Normandeau, a number of historical artifacts were put into the building.
   Unfortunately, the rebuilt Fort Normandeau structure was the frequent victim of break-ins and vandalism. Several artifacts were stolen or damaged. The situation improved after the construction of a new Old Timers Lodge on 47 Ave. in 1958. However, there was not much space for artifacts and exhibits in the lodge.
   In 1964, following the destruction of a large quantity of historical City records during the move from the old City Hall to the new one, City Council decided to create a municipal archives. It was initially located in the new City Hall, but later moved to the Centennial Library in 1967.
   In 1972, during the planning for Red Deer's Diamond (60th) Anniversary as a city, a proposal was made by Jean Dawe to create a civic museum as the official anniversary project. There was enthusiastic support for the proposal from such groups as the Old Timers Association as well as the community as a whole.
   Consequently, in 1973, the Red Deer and District Museum opened in temporary quarters in the basement of the Recreation Centre. The facilities were not ideal. Space was limited. On occasion, there were water leaks from the pool areas upstairs.
   The Museum Society continued to push for the construction of a permanent facility on a City-owned site north east of the Recreation Centre. There was enormous public support. An impressive amount of money was raised for the project. The new building officially opened in 1978, with large crowds in attendance.
   The Red Deer and District Archives decided to move from the library to the museum. The building then became known as the Red Deer and District Museum and Archives. Moreover, with convenient and inexpensive meeting room and public event space available, the facility became a well-used community centre.
   Under the leadership of the very energetic museum director, Morris Flewwelling and a strong group of staff and volunteers, the Red Deer Museum developed impressive collections, had a diverse range of historical and fine art exhibitions, and provided a highly popular set of public and school programs. The Red Deer and District Museum soon earned the national distinction of being the model museum of its size in Canada.
   The growth in exhibitions, collections and programming created space problems. Consequently, a large addition was made to the building in 1984. Another addition to the storage areas was built in 1993-1994. Impressively, with all of the government cutbacks at the time, this latest addition was constructed entirely with donations and not with any tax dollars.
   The latest set of renovations is but one more milestone in the ongoing development of the museum. The public is invited to stop by on the afternoon of Family Day, to view the improvements and to enjoy the entertainment.

June 3, 2009, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Red Deer's downtown hotels have
celebrated history

The recent demolition of the Arlington Inn, Red Deer's oldest remaining hotel, and the closure of the Valley, means the end of a major part of Red Deer's history.
   No longer will the city have the cluster of old downtown hotels that have been one of the landmark features not only of Red Deer, but also of almost every community in Western Canada.
   There was a strong reason for this pattern of development. The main means of travel, until after the Second World War, was by rail.
   When people arrived in a community, one of the first things they looked for was a place to stay. Thus, there was a strong incentive to build hotels within sight of the local railroad station.
   The first hotel to be constructed in Red Deer was the Queen's. It was a small single storey structure, built in the spring of 1891, immediately east of the railroad station along Holt (51) Ave.
   In the early spring of 1892, a two-storey hotel, the Alberta, was constructed on the southeast corner of Ross St. and Holt (51) Ave.
   The Alberta quickly developed a reputation as one of the better places to stay on the C&E Railroad line.
   As the business grew and prospered, an addition was built on the east side. In 1899, a third storey was added to the frame structure.
   That same year, Thomas and Edith Pennington Ellis, who had been running the old Queen's Hotel, demolished the original structure and replaced it with a much larger building.
   The hotel, named the Arlington, opened with a grand ball and supper on October 12, 1899.
   It was also in 1899 that Steve Wilson, who had taken over the Alberta Hotel, constructed a substantial frame and sandstone building south of the Canadian Pacific (former C. & E.) Railroad Station.
   The building was originally used as a public hall, which was known as Nelson's Hall. However, in 1903, it was turned into a hotel facility. Initially called the Royal Hotel, it was renamed the Windsor in 1905.
   In 1902, Fredrick Krause built the Alexandra Hotel on the east end of Ross St. near MacKenzie (49) Ave.
   This was the first hotel to be constructed that was not directly across the street from the railroad station.
   Another hotel, the Great West, was constructed south of the Windsor. However, this was a "temperance hotel", without a bar. It went out of business in 1908.
   Meanwhile, with Red Deer growing very rapidly between 1901 and 1913, the other hotels grew and prospered. Large additions were constructed onto the Arlington, Alberta and Windsor.
   The great boom ended with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The implementation of Prohibition in 1915 dealt a catastrophic blow to the local hoteliers.
   For a while, both the Alexandra and the Windsor closed their doors, while the Arlington fell into turmoil when the managers tried to break their lease with the owners. Only the Alberta was able to remain continuously open.
   The 1920s were quiet years. The Windsor reopened, as did the Alexandra, albeit under a new name, the Auditorium. The abandoned Great West was torn down as a fire hazard.
   In 1939, with the economy beginning to emerge from the Great Depression, the west end of the Alberta was replaced with a new building and the hotel was renamed the Buffalo.
   New prosperity came during the Second World War. There was a large military training centre in Red Deer and two airbases at Penhold and Bowden. Rooms were soon full of visitors and lodgers. The beer parlours were full of both military personnel and civilians.
   In 1947, John Phelan, the owner of the Windsor, constructed the Valley Hotel on the corner of 49 St. and 51 Ave. He also later built the small Phelan Hotel south of the Windsor.
   In 1947, the Auditorium was remodeled and renamed the Park Hotel. Later, a small bar-less hotel, the Waskasoo, was built on Gaetz Ave. North.
   There were more changes in the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s. The hotels were full with newcomers and travelers.
   However, in the late 1960s and 1970s, the downtown hotels became more noted for their taverns. Some became rather notorious. In the 1980s, the Windsor even took as its slogan "Doing It Right on the Wrong Side of Town".
   There was a big decline in the past 20 years. The Windsor closed in 1993 and burned down a year later. The Waskasoo also burned down in 1994.
   In 2001, the John Howard Society changed the Park Hotel into a halfway house with businesses on the main floor.
   In 2007, the Buffalo was purchased by the Potter's Hands ministry and turned into a place of worship as well as affordable housing for the community.
   Now, the last of the traditional downtown hotels have either been demolished or closed.
   An era, more than a century long, has come to an end.

March 19, 2008, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
The Arlington Hotel, a RD landmark
Arlington Hotel Red Deer c1911 RDArchives   One of the oldest landmarks in Red Deer is the historic Arlington Hotel. It has stood on 51 Ave., near the old C.P.R. station, for nearly 110 years.
   The origins of the hotel actually go back to 1891. That was when Stewart D. Mulkins built the Queen's Hotel to the south east of the new Calgary-Edmonton Railway station on Holt (51) Ave.
   Despite the impressive name, the Queen's Hotel was a very modest building, 20 by 42 feet, with a small lobby and office in the front, and a few guest rooms in the back and upstairs.
   In 1892, Mulkins sold his hotel to Harry and Emily (Threlfall) Pennington, who had previously operated a stopping house along the Calgary Edmonton Trail north of Penhold.
   Later, the operation of the hotel was taken over by their daughter Edith and her husband Tom Ellis.
   Tom Ellis was a former North West Mounted Police officer who had been posted at Fort Normandeau and had acted both as a constable and the fort's cook. He later worked as the assistant principal at the Red Deer Indian Industrial School west of Red Deer.
   In 1899, Tom and Edith Ellis decided to demolish the old Queen's Hotel building and replace it with a much larger structure.
   The new hotel consisted of 12 guest rooms, a sizeable banquet hall, sample rooms for travelling commercial salesmen, a bar and a billiards room.
   The hotel, now named the Arlington, opened with a grand ball and supper on Oct. 12, 1899.
   The business soon earned the reputation as being one of the best run hotels in Central Alberta. People liked the fact that rooms could be rented for a moderate 50c per night.
   In April 1906, when Red Deer made a bid to become the capital of the new province of Alberta, the grand banquet for the Lieutenant Governor, premier and all the MLAs was held at the Arlington as it was considered the finest establishment in the community.
   The banquet was deemed a great success, but the speeches went on until quarter to five in the morning. Not surprisingly, the groggy MLAs got on the train back to Edmonton a few hours later and soon voted to make that city the permanent capital of the province.
   The Ellis's prospered so much that in 1907, they built a grand brick house on 46 Ave., just south of 55 St. Tragically, Tom Ellis suffered a serious stroke just as the house was being completed. He was left paralyzed and passed away a year later in 1909.
   Edith Ellis continued to operate the Arlington. In August 1910, she married Dr. James McCreight, a veterinarian who had been rooming in the hotel. Two years later, a large brick addition was built onto the north end of the building.
   The imposition of prohibition in 1915 brought hard times for the Arlington and all the other hotels in Red Deer.
   One of the main sources of income for the businesses literally dried up. Edith Ellis McCreight decided to try and lease the Arlington to new managers. However, with the sharply reduced revenues, the new operators soon broke their lease.
   After he returned from active service in the First World War, the operation of the Arlington was taken over by Tom and Edith's son, Harry Ellis. The Arlington was the scene of another historic event in July 1922.
   That was when the Alberta Hotel Association held its inaugural meeting in the hotel. Some 44 hotel owners from across the province showed up to create the new organization.
   The hotel experienced many ups and downs over the succeeding years.
   While the late 1920s brought a modest return of prosperity, the Great Depression of the 1930s brought a new round of hard financial times.
   The hotel did enjoy some very good times during the Second World War when the community was full of military personnel who were stationed at the A-20 Army Camp north of 55 St. and at the Penhold airbase south of town.
   The building underwent a major renovation in the early 1970s which gave it the appearance of an English country inn.
   While the area has changed quite a bit with the loss of the Windsor Hotel and the conversion of the adjacent Buffalo Hotel into a residential facility, the Arlington remains a notable and often colourful landmark in the heart of the community.
Photo: Arlington Hotel c1911. Red Deer Archives P2829

Feb. 9, 2003, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
John T. Moore
One of the most influential people in the development of Red Deer is someone who has generally been forgotten, John T. Moore. His company at one time owned 180 sections of land in Central Alberta. Moreover, he was so extensively involved in local business ventures that he was often referred to as Red Deer's first capitalist.
   John T. Moore was born in a log cabin in Markham Ontario in July 1844. As a student, he first trained as a doctor and then a lawyer. Ultimately, however, he became a chartered accountant.
   In 1881, a group of prominent Methodist businessmen decided to invest in Canadian West. They formed the Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Company and appointed Moore to be the managing director. Moore then embarked on an exploration trip to the West, travelling by rail as far as Moose Jaw and then overland to Alberta. He arrived at Red Deer, camped in what in now Rotary Park and rode to the top of Piper's Mountain. He was so impressed by the surrounding countryside that he had the Company purchase 115,200 acres of land in the area from the Federal Government for $2 per acre.
   Moore recruited Rev. Leonard Gaetz, to move to Red Deer to become the local land agent for the Company. Moore also embarked on an extensive series of trips to publicize Red Deer and its settlement potential.
   Meanwhile, Moore became active in public affairs in Ontario. He was elected reeve of Yorkville and later became an alderman for the City of Toronto.
   In 1901, Moore decided to move his residence to Red Deer. That same year, he secured a federal charter for the Alberta Central Railway. Plans were to make this a "transcontinental" line extending from the Fraser Valley to Moose Jaw with a branch up to the Hudson Bay. Shortage of capital, however, delayed the project for several years.
   In 1902, Moore established the Western Telephone Company and brought local phone service to Red Deer. The following year, he established the Western General Electric Company which brought electric power to the community.
   In 1905, Moore ran for M.L.A. as a Liberal in Alberta's first provincial election. He edged out his old associate, Leonard Gaetz for the position. In 1909, Moore ran for re-election, but was defeated by Edward Michener by 161 votes.
   In 1910, Moore was finally able to secure enough money to start construction of the Alberta Central Railway from Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House. Such was Moore's influence and connections that he had Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier drive the first spike.
   The next several years were not kind to Moore. In 1911, his wife Annie Addison passed away. In 1912, the A.C.R. ran out of money and eventually had to be taken over by the C.P.R. Moore's health broke. He moved back to his estate Avoca Vale in the Moore Park subdivision, which he had developed in Toronto. Shortly thereafter, Moore's mansion burned down.
   In 1914, John T. Moore married Alice Forbes and they moved into a rebuilt Avoca Vale. Moore became a phenomenal grower of roses and at one point had 15,000 rose bushes blooming on his estate.
   Moore's health continued to deteriorate and in June 1917, he passed away. He was survived by his wife Alice, his two sons, Carlyle and William and one daughter Grace Locke.
   Moore Crescent in Red Deer is named in honour of John T. Moore, as is Moore Park in North Rosedale, Toronto.

News articles about the vision and progress of the Forth Junction Heritage Society
News articles related to the railway heritage of Central Alberta
News articles about green transportation: transit, biking and high speed rail

News articles about recent rail-related development projects in Central Alberta
News articles about related regional heritage, history and culture
News articles about regional destinations, tourism and miniature worlds


Home | Why Forth Junction? | FAQ | Media News
 Collections | Bibliography | Copyright, Terms of Use, Privacy Policy

website developed by Forth Junction Heritage Society.
Copyright 2009-2022  All Rights Reserved.