Recent historical findings have added more details to the chronologies of two early pioneer families from the Heath Creek district. Online research into the 1921 Canadian census and, via Ancestry.com, homestead records held by the Provincial Archives of Alberta, has accessed data and tales from the old days.
Earlier versions of the Lowe and Webber histories appeared in the book Prairie Grass to Mountain Pass, but the stories told here offer further insights into their agricultural endeavours of over a century ago.
Claude and Gladys Lowe
E.D. Claude and Gladys Jessamine Lowe settled up the other valley from Heath Creek. Their homestead was on the southeast quarter of S15-T10-R1-W5. Lowe’s application went in on Jan. 29, 1909, and he received title to the property effective Oct. 16, 1914.
The homestead prospered as a mixed farming operation. Lowe had 10 acres plowed and five seeded in crops in 1910. By 1913, this had increased to 23½ acres in crops. His cattle production peaked in 1911 with 15 head. He started with seven horses in 1910, increasing to 11 a year later.
Frontier buildings reflected Lowe’s agricultural endeavours on the Canadian Prairies. He constructed a log house measuring 26 by 32 feet that featured a 16-by-20 addition. The dwelling may have been worth $500. A 26-by-42-foot stable, also built of logs, was valued at $350. A 16-by-16 pigpen was pegged at $15. Three-wire fencing stretching 2½ miles cost $250 to construct.
Community-minded Claude Lowe had the Heath Creek post office and also served as a trustee for Heath Creek School District No. 3481. This country school operated for over a generation, from 1917 to the late 1930s. Lowe had the distinction of owning the only telephone in the district, installed in 1921.
Mrs. Gladys Lowe, Mrs. Stephanie (Johnny) Spears and Mrs. Violet (Harry) Holmes all were sisters, being Buchanan-White daughters.
Claude and Gladys Lowe were wed on her parents’ ranch, south of Cowley, on March 12, 1912. The couple received a wedding present of $5 from Gladys’s parents.
The Lowes had four daughters: Helen Udys, born circa 1913; Pearl Marsahel (also known as Peggy), born circa 1916; Kathleen Adams, born circa 1918; and Molly. They had one son, Stanley Edwards, born circa 1920.
The Lowes left Heath Creek circa 1927, moving to Lethbridge, where they resided at 1816 Seventh Ave. N.
Claude was born in England circa 1884 and immigrated to Canada at the age of 20.
Gladys was born in Perth, Scotland, on Aug. 1, 1884, and immigrated to Canada at the age of 19, in 1903. She passed away in Lethbridge on Sept. 6, 1935.
The Lowes’ religious affiliation was with the Church of England.
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Webber
Two of the first settlers in the Heath Creek district were Mr. and Mrs. Tom Webber. Tom raised longhorn cattle on what is called the George Cleland place, now owned by the Burles family. The little stream that flows into Heath Creek was called Webber Creek.
The couple had one adopted son, Harold, whom they took as a baby after his mother died in a house fire.
The Webbers’ homestead was located on a fraction of S4-T10-R30-W4. They may have squatted on the quarter as early as 1898, with the official application going in on June 27, 1904.
Tom Webber received title for the property effective Nov. 4, 1908. He also became a naturalized citizen on Dec. 20, 1907, near the end of those proving-up years.
Webber made several agricultural improvements to the property, mostly of a ranching nature. He started with 70 head of cattle in 1904, which increased to 150 by 1908. Webber had 10 horses throughout the five-year proving-up era.
By 1908, only four acres were plowed and seeded in crops. The property’s location in the rugged Heath Creek district of the Porcupine Hills made it conducive to ranching rather than farming. In his application, Webber made note of the topography’s excellent grazing conditions.
Webber constructed several sturdy frontier buildings on the homestead. Featured was a log house measuring 18 by 24 feet, with a 10-by-10 addition. It had a value of $200.
A collage of outbuildings collectively were worth $250. These included a shed, two stables for many of the ranch animals, two chicken houses, and a root house where vegetables from the family garden could be stored. One mile of fencing worth $150 dotted the property line.
A note by Webber said there were no minerals, particularly coal, on the quarter, which meant that the family had to obtain this valuable resource for heating their house from other locations or that timber was the source of fuel.
One of the farming tools Webber used was a wooden-beam walking plow, which is on exhibit at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village.
Further research still needs to be completed to add information on Mrs. Webber’s side of the family, including her given name.