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Homesteaders of the Tennessee and Pincher City districts

By Farley Wuth
Shootin’ the Breeze Shootin’ the Breeze Contributing Writer
March 29, 2023
This week’s article takes a look back at some of the pioneers from the Tennessee and Pincher City districts. The former was an old ranching district immediately north of the Oldman River, while the latter was the old name for the settlement of Pincher Station. New historical research has unearthed additional chronicles of these individuals.

The pioneering Boag brothers

The Boag brothers, Lawrence and Charles, had early agricultural connections with the Tennessee and Pincher City districts.

Perhaps the better remembered of the siblings was Lawrence John Boag, the younger of the two, who was born Aug. 12, 1882, in Guildford, England. He homesteaded on the southeast quarter of 36-7-30-W4.

Although this was located immediately north of the Oldman River in the Tennessee district, most historical references to Lawrence John Boag list him as a pioneer of Pincher City. Folklore indicates that he may have picked up his mail and completed his business transactions at this more southerly point.

His homestead was applied for on May 16, 1904. He listed his age as 22 years at this time. Boag established near-continuous residency on his quarter. His absences were spent working as a labourer and bridge man with the railway. 

Most of his efforts went into farming. He had 10 acres plowed and cultivated in 1905. This increased to 25 acres some two years later. Boag estimated that 120 acres on his homestead were suitable for farming, with none of the property being covered in swamp or by timber.

His homestead file noted that his house had a value of $100 and that his stable was being constructed. The fencing for his quarter-section was worth $225.

Some 13 years following his homestead application, Lawrence Boag continued his railway connections by taking up a job with the Canadian Pacific Railway. During the 1920s he was stationed at Macleod, transferring late in that decade to Calgary, where eventually he secured employment as a conductor. Retirement came two years after the close of the Second World War.

On March 18, 1909, Lawrence Boag and Elizabeth Elsie Harrad, the eldest daughter of Charles and Eliza Harrad, were united in marriage at St. John’s Anglican Church in Pincher Creek. Boag’s brother Charles served as his best man for the ceremony.


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Elizabeth’s birth in England dated to Aug. 3, 1890. Lawrence and Elizabeth celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1959. Lawrence passed away Jan. 18, 1960, and Elizabeth on Sept. 5, 1965. Both are buried in Queen’s Park Cemetery in Calgary.

Charles Henry Boag was born in March 1877 in England, immigrating to Canada in 1902. His homestead was located on the northeast quarter of 6-8-29-W4, just northeast of his brother’s spread. He applied for it on April 26, 1904, and received patent for the property on Dec. 2, 1908. Boag established near-continuous residency on his quarter from 1904 through 1908, his absences being caused by being “in the mountains working in the woods.”

Farming on his homestead was successful. In 1905 he plowed and cultivated nearly a dozen acres, which by 1908 had increased to over 40 acres. Old-timers remembered an abundance of good crops being grown on his quarter.

Boag had two horses in 1905, which increased to five some three years later. No cattle were listed in his homestead file.

Buildings included a frame house measuring 12 by 20 feet. It was valued at $150. He also had a 16-by-20-foot stable worth $80 and a 10-foot-deep well valued at $20. He installed two miles of fencing worth $200.

Charles did not have a family of his own and eventually sold his property to the Lewis family, whereupon he returned to England.

Pincher City adventures of Walter Sage

Walter Sage was a pioneer of the Ashvale and Pincher City districts.

Sage was born in Ontario on May 21, 1865. His parents and ancestry were English. Religiously, he was affiliated with the Church of England and, while residing in southwestern Alberta, he at times attended St. John’s Church in Pincher Creek.


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As a young adult he settled in Vancouver.

Sage initially arrived on the local scene in the very early 1900s. That year’s census lists him as a boarder at the George and Elizabeth Fair dwelling in Pincher City. Sage’s occupation already was listed as a rancher.

On May 12, 1900, he filed on a homestead on the northeast quarter of 14-7-30-W4. It was located south of the Oldman River, less than two miles north of the settlement of Pincher City. He received patent to the quarter effective Dec. 13, 1903, and there he remained for a decade and a half or more.

The property thrived for farming purposes but not for ranching. In 1900 he had 2½ acres plowed, which increased to 40 acres plowed and seeded in 1902. Walter Sage did not have any cattle, horses or pigs on the homestead.

His buildings were modest. They featured a 12-by-12 frame house worth $40. He had 1½ miles of fencing constructed at a cost of $50.

A career change for Walter Sage came in the late 1910s when he purchased the former Richard Morgan garage in Pincher City. Local historian William Laidlaw claimed that “during Prohibition, [the garage] was a frequent spot for the ‘rum runners’ to park their big fancy cars.”

Several years later, likely after 1928-29, when Sage still was listed as a garage owner in the Henderson’s Directory, he sold his business to a couple of younger fellows.

At this point, Walter Sage retired and resided in the first of the Laidlaw grocery store buildings, also located at Pincher City. He was recalled as being very kind to his neighbours Mr. and Mrs. White, who hailed from England. Weather permitting, he ensured that Mrs. White attended church every Sunday.

Walter Sage, who remained a bachelor, passed away at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Pincher Creek on July 12, 1945. He was buried in the Fairview Cemetery.

Sources for these biographical sketches included old newspaper clippings, homestead records housed at the Provincial Archives of Alberta as accessed by Ancestry.com, Dominion of Canada Censuses for 1901 and 1911, and the historical recollections of pioneer William Laidlaw.

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