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Tag: Pincher Creek History

Farley Wuth, a moustached man wearing a bowler hat, shows an historic image.

A look back at Pincher Creek’s pioneer landscape

Pincher Creek a century and a quarter ago certainly was a different-looking settlement than what we have today.

True, there were historical roots, planted in the 1880s or 1890s, which still can be seen today in terms of how the community functions. But in the intervening five or six generations, there have been many changes.

What did Pincher Creek look like during those bygone days on the western Canadian frontier?

Early land surveys

After the success of the North West Mounted Police horse ranch, established here in 1878, Pincher Creek quickly became established as a commercial centre for the expanding ranching industry.

During the next 20 years, numerous pioneer businesses sprang up to serve local economic needs. The settlement’s “business centre” was located less than a mile to the west of the Mounties’ detachment, on what was to become Pincher Creek’s dusty Main Street.

The selection of where the commercial outlets were to develop was made by ex-Mountie Charles Kettles, who in 1883 was commissioned to survey the streets and the business and residential blocks for the portion of town south of the creek.

The area’s proximity to the creek, with shelter offered by the valley, obviously appealed to Kettles in terms of where businesses could be built. His massive two-storey ranch house, located near what is now the west end of town, dated to 1890 or 1892.

Pioneer Albert Morden (1844-1907), patriarch of the first non-NWMP family to settle here, surveyed the portion of the settlement north of the creek. Many of these streets he named after members of his family. He tragically drowned in the rushing spring waters of the creek.

 

Indoor and outdoor view of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

A few early businesses of the 1880s and 1890s

The first local business was the Schofield and Hyde General Store, established in 1883 as a log structure near what is now the corner of Main Street and East Avenue. Three years later, the outlet was purchased by the Hudson’s Bay Co., with Henry Hyde remaining on as its manager.

Down the street was the old Arlington Hotel, also known as the Brick Hotel. Originally owned by the partnership of Mitchell and Geddes, William R. Dobbie purchased the latter’s portion of the business, and the hotel was greatly expanded during the 1890s.

Dobbie, who like Hyde later went on to become Pincher Creek’s mayor, also operated a livery stable next door to the east.

Farther to the west was Timothee Lebel’s Store, a series of log and frame buildings dating back to the mid 1880s. It was not until 1904 that his three-storey stone business block was constructed.

At the opposite corner was the old hardware store operated by William Berry and Sons. Established way back in 1886, this business flourished because of its connection with the local ranches.

On the south side of the street were several other early businesses. The old Union Bank, also housed in a majestic stone building dating from 1904, had been located almost directly across the street from Schofield and Hyde’s store since 1898. To its west was the Alberta Hotel, which dated back as early as 1885, and was closely connected with the ranching Connelly family.

Blacksmith businesses, such as the Allison family’s IXL Blacksmith Shop, and livery stables, such as the massive two-storey building owned by the Lynch brothers, were located farther east.

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Local streets and long-distance travel

Pincher Creek streets during the 1890s were a far cry from what they are now. Pioneers often recalled that during wet weather they were little more than massive mud holes. During dry weather, they were at best simple trails, often very dusty when heavily trodden with horses or during frequent wind storms.

A few of the major thoroughfares, primarily adjacent to the businesses or in established residential areas, were adorned with wide wooden boardwalks. These state-of-the-art pedestrian walkways utilized local lumber harvested at the logging operation at Mountain Mill. Whenever the boards were replaced, children would scurry by, looking for loose change that had been accidentally dropped through the slats.

Regular travel to points beyond Pincher Creek was limited during those early days on the frontier. The railway did not arrive for a full generation after Pincher Creek’s establishment, and motorized vehicles were still a dream of the future.

Travel was on horseback or by stagecoach, and even a return trip to Fort Macleod, the closest centre to the east, was a major undertaking of several days’ duration. Such a trip was next to impossible during wet weather, when the local trail would become a massive mud hole. Winter travel was plagued by snow-clogged challenges.

The route left Pincher Creek east of the NWMP detachment, travelled along what is now Macleod Street, crossed the creek at Goforth’s Crossing and went northeasterly from there.

Similar cart trails headed west from town to the Pass, and south to Waterton Lakes. Travel was difficult at best.

 

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

 

Early bridges and fording the creek

Within town, the first bridge constructed across the creek was an old log one, located on what was to become Bridge Avenue, now Bev McLachlin Drive. It connected the frontier business core with the pioneer housing landscape on the north side of the watershed.

Before its construction just prior to 1898, there was little need for a traffic bridge. Most creek crossings within the settlement were handled through a series of fords, one located behind the Mounties’ detachment and a second set, according to local folklore, located farther upstream near Morden’s Grove. As far back as the 1890s, there was a log footbridge near the Morden property, an agricultural spread now occupied by the fire hall.

The old Bridge Avenue crossing was replaced circa 1906 by a sturdy metal structure, required when a much-too-heavy steam engine crashed through the wooden bridge to the creek below.

Some years later, shortly before the First World War, a second steel bridge was constructed at the far west end of town. This provided the ranches at Beauvais Lake, Mountain Mill and Beaver Mines with access to our pioneer business settlement.

 

 

Camille Kalveram, young professional woman with long blonde hair, on Vision Credit Union ad

 

Old black-and-white photo of hockey players on rink in downtown Pincher Creek

Chronicles of Pincher Creek’s 1909 hockey season

Pioneer times in the Pincher Creek area were blessed with strong sports traditions that were both competitive and recreational. As we head into our annual winter season, it encourages us to reflect back to traditional fun times.

Hockey played on outdoor rinks was a mainstay of those traditions. Informal matches usually involved local players and games, while district and regional leagues witnessed a more competitive spirit accompanied by some travel.

Travel beyond the local area after 1897-98 patronized the Crowsnest branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Such was the case with the 1909 hockey season, which saw league teams from Pincher Creek, Macleod and Lethbridge battle it out on the ice.

 

Pump bottles of colourful, natural soaps on ad for Lynden House Market in Pincher Creek

 

Competitive matches hampered by the cold

The first game of the season, played the evening of New Year’s Day, was hosted by Macleod but won by Pincher Creek with a score 7-5. Lethbridge referee R.D. Robson ensured that a fair game was played. Press reports indicate that the ice was soft, possibly due to the warm weather, but a fast hockey game was pursued.

Initially the Macleod team had the upper hand, but Pincher Creek outskated its opponent in the second half. Only one Pincher Creek player was issued a penalty, while four players from the NWMP settlement to the east “decorated the fence.” Folklore indicates that players and spectators alike were happy with the community recreation.

A second match, this time against Lethbridge on Pincher Creek’s home ice, was hampered by immensely cold conditions. The temperature literally froze at -32 F, with both teams suffering as a result of the cold. At least a pair of hockey enthusiasts from both teams had their feet and fingers touched with intense frostbite.

 

Pincher Creek Chamber of Commerce notice of annual general meeting on brightly coloured background

 

So miserable were the conditions that the Lethbridge team was unable to practise on the rink before the game and therefore could not attest to the particularities of the ice. The city press indicated that this put their team to a disadvantage.

Reporters noted that the latter part of the game was “fast and furious.” Pincher Creek established a strong lead early in the match with the scoring of two goals, but quickly Lethbridge held back its ranchland competitor.

Although the puck-handling and passing work by our team was fast paced, it was not always strong enough to break through the city’s defences. However, only once did the Lethbridge offence succeed in overtaking their opponents, resulting in their single goal.

 

Red and black angus bulls on poster for Blades Angus Bull Sale

 

Players from both teams appreciated the chance to pursue their favourite winter sport.

The accompanying photograph from the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village archives depicts a 1909 hockey game on an outdoor rink on Pincher Creek’s frontier Main Street. This well-patronized ice rink was located on the street’s south side, with the old-time Alberta Hotel and its livery stable situated next to the rink.

Across the street can be seen the Arlington Hotel, which was in business for close to six decades following its construction, circa 1890. Snowdrifts along the creek valley and the Porcupine Hills are visible in the background.

Regional newspaper clippings were used as the research sources for this history article.

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

 

Farley Wuth, a moustached man wearing a bowler hat, shows an historic image.

Utopia School educated rural students for nearly half a century

As was the case with other rural schools a century ago, Utopia School District No. 840 offered excellent education to the many pioneer students who attended classes within this rustic structure. Let’s have a look back at a few early historical highlights.

A pioneer school and its supporters

Utopia School was one of 10 one-room country schools situated southeast of Pincher Creek. It sat adjacent to the Waterton River, better known to locals of the 1880s and 1890s as the Kootenay River. To its north was Fishburn School, to the west Robert Kerr and to the south New Yarrow School, each offering an education in the “three Rs” to eager students.

The school at Utopia was a frame structure, a rectangular one-storey building that housed students from grades 1 through 8. A peaked roof, adorned with wooden shakes, covered the building.

On one side were two sets of three rectangular windows, a popular style from that era on the frontier. These were opened during the hot weather of the spring, in order to make the school less stuffy as students prepared for their June exams.

At the front end of the structure was an enclosed porch, used as a mud and cloakroom for the students as they entered and exited the building. This room was a bonus during inclement or winter weather.

 

Solar panel on ad for Riteline Electric in Pincher Creek

 

Off in the distance was a shed where the teacher and her pupils could stable any horses that were ridden to and from classes.

For nearly half a century following its opening in 1904, Utopia School met the educational needs of local students. The school district’s old ledgers, a few of which are now housed in the archives of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, chronicle some of the activities of those earlier times.

Starting in 1908, the first year for which property owners within the school district were listed, 27 families were on the roster. Pioneer surnames such as Fitzpatrick, Age, Walper, Swinney, Ward, White, Thomas, Speth, Gilruth, Miller, Blackburn and Whittacker highlight the pages of these intriguing ledgers.

Since Utopia did not have a post office at that time, many of these school supporters picked up their mail in nearby New Yarrow or Fishburn, depending on whether they resided to the south or farther north. Seven of these early families ventured as far as Pincher Creek, some 20 miles away, for their mail.

 

 

Revenues and expenditures reflected pioneer times

Utopia faced many of the same challenges as other pioneer school districts in terms of its revenues and expenditures. During its first operational year, 1904, it collected $262.86 in school taxes from the property owners who resided there. Each year, this revenue steadily increased so that four years later, nearly $1,000 was raked in.

One of the more intriguing tax revenues realized by the school district was from property owned by the Winnipeg Hudson’s Bay Co., which owned the west half of Section 26, Township 4, Range 28, West of the Fourth Meridian.

As guaranteed by dominion legislation, this fur-trading giant owned property in each township, which provided an extra source of property-based income for rural school districts. For Utopia, it provided anywhere from $9.36 to $14.40 in annual land tax levies.

The school district also realized annual grants from the Province of Alberta following its 1905 incorporation, usually received in three instalments. For many years, these amounted to between $135 and $255 each year.

Banking services of the Utopia School District were handled during those early years by the Pincher Creek branch of the Union Bank, located in a massive two-storey stone building at the corner of Main Street and East Avenue. Bookkeeper and former educator W.A. Ross (1875-1951) served as the district’s auditor for many years.

 

Wedding banquet view of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

One of the more important expenditures was the teacher’s salary. In 1906-07 and 1907-08, the teacher was Annie Campbell, who appears to have received a monthly wage of $50, although the amounts do vary in the ledger. Payments at times were irregular, and it appears that extra wages were assigned at times when additional tutoring with the students was required.

She was succeeded in 1909 by Miss F.L. Ormond, who received a similar salary. Miss Dora McKerrill taught at Utopia the following year at much the same wages.

In 1906, Lillie Thomas provided the caretaking services at the school, looking after the coal-burning stove and assisting with the cleaning. A monthly wage of $5.50 was paid, although often the cheques were issued every second month.

Pioneer schools such as Utopia certainly were reflections of their rural communities. Utopia School closed due to consolidation in 1950, after educating students for 46 years.

The building remains standing on the south side of the road, a visual reminder of pioneer days gone by. An impressive gate at its entrance, arranged by former pupils, also bespeaks that rural community history.

 

You're in good hands – animated ad for National Newspaper Week

 

Farley Wuth, man with long grey beard and sideburns, dark-rimmed glasses and brown bowler hat, holds a cup of coffee.

Join Farley Wuth for Coffee with the Curator

If you’ve ever met Farley Wuth, curator of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek, you know he’s the closest thing you’ll find to a human encyclopedia on the history of southwestern Alberta.

Farley has been a wealth of knowledge in his role for just over 25 years, and now people have the opportunity to sit down with him and pick his brain, while sharing their own recollections of the region’s history.

The first Coffee With Our Curator event, a series of informal discussions with Farley about a plethora of local historical topics, was held Sept. 12 at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village. Each month, the museum will host one of these sit-down conversations, featuring a new topic every session.

According to Farley, these discussions are meant to be a two-way dialogue between himself and participants eager to learn about local history and share their own knowledge and recollections.

“It’s a new way of engaging the public in local history, getting them to come to the museum and get them thinking about these topics,” he says.

The first session revolved around the region’s early explorers and how they shaped the land. Two sets of explorers were discussed — official and unofficial. 

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

Official explorers consisted mostly of men sent by the Canadian or British governments to identify the agricultural potential of the West. Unofficial explorers are those who came on their own, with Farley referring to them as “renegade frontiersmen.” 

The discussion group also explored how the land’s Indigenous Peoples ensured the survival of these men. 

This conversation will be followed up each month with a new topic to ensure that conversations stay fresh. Topics include early Pincher Creek pioneers, railway settlements, early ranchers of the area and more. 

The hope is that these informal yet informative dialogues will increase public interest in local history while fostering recollections that can provide insights into the area’s past.

The series will run until May, before taking a break for the summer. If the program proves popular enough, the plan is for Coffee With Our Curator to return in the fall of 2024. 

Regardless of what the future holds, Farley is thrilled for this opportunity to sit down with locals and engage them about the early history of Pincher Creek and surrounding areas.

“I always find it very exciting to have discussions with local residents, descendants of the pioneers and people who have come more recently and are finding out what their interests are in the local history,” he says. 

Each monthly sit-down will run from 1 to 3 p.m. and will be hosted in Pioneer Place at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village. The gatherings are free to attend.

Visit the Kootenai Brown website for dates, topics and additional info.

Any questions can be directed to KBPV by phone at 403-627-3684 or by email.

 

 

Header for Frontier Canadian Recollections Column with Kootenai Brown's cabin and man in bowler hat

Life and times of frontiersman Daniel Cassidy and family

The history of the Pincher Creek area is interwoven with the tales of frontiersmen who shaped the community we have today. Such was the case with Daniel Cassidy and his family, whose rural chronicles made them well known through southwestern Alberta.

Early adventures

Daniel Cassidy was born in 1864 in what was to become Port Elgin, Ont. As his birth took place three years before Confederation, this harbour along the eastern shores of Lake Huron was still part of the British colony of “the Canadas.” His parents were Neil and Catherine (Cummins) Cassidy, and he had five siblings — four brothers and one sister.

Folklore indicates that, as a young man, the junior Cassidy led a life of adventure in parts of Canada and the United States. He always was interested in animals, and first spent time pursuing studies to be a veterinarian. Later, he raised thoroughbred race horses, and also was a jockey.

Cassidy also worked as a businessman prior to his arrival in the Pincher Creek area. It is claimed that he once owned and operated a hotel in Castlewood, S.D. He also worked as a dock foreman on the American side of Lake Superior, having secured employment with Iron King Bennett, the famous Minnesota-based shipping magnate.

It was in early November 1887 that Cassidy married his bride, a member of the Smith family who also hailed from Port Elgin. The wedding took place in the American settlement of Duluth, Minn.

 

We got your bumps and bruises covered advertisement for Osa Remedy'sRx in Pincher Creek

 

Popular Mountain Mill couple

Twenty-six years later, in 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Cassidy arrived in southwestern Alberta. They established a farm a few miles west of Pincher Creek, and both husband and wife became active in the old timber-harvesting and agricultural community of Mountain Mill. This rural area had a settlement history almost as old as Pincher Creek’s, dating back to 1879 with the first sawmill in this area.

Over the years, they became fast friends with such Mountain Mill, Beaver Mines and Beauvais Lake pioneers as the Wilbur, Clifford and Ray Langs; Jack Ledingham; the McDowells; and William Boyden. They also knew Marie Rose Smith, known locally as the Fifty Dollar Bride, and her numerous children.

Three of Mrs. Cassidy’s younger brothers — Tom, Johnny and Jim Smith — also resided with the couple and their daughter Elsie, and this made for an interesting mix of Smiths in the area, although the two clans were not related. The three Smith brothers were well liked for their fiddle playing at the many dances hosted by the rural community and, like the Cassidys, were highly respected by their peers.

The Cassidys were enthusiastic about their opinions and never hesitated to comment on current affairs. It is said that the couple led many an intriguing discussion on a wide variety of topics.

The Cassidys’ farm was a thriving operation. For nearly 35 years, they resided in a large two-storey house on the property.

One of the highlights for the couple likely came shortly after their 1913 arrival in the Pincher Creek area when they ordered a large coal-burning Home Comfort cookstove. A faded old photo, now housed at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, shows the arrival of this coveted item, brought in on a wagon pulled by a team of horses.

 

 

This steel appliance was noted for its large warming oven on top and its ornate chrome finish. Like other farming families, the Cassidys appreciated the convenience of this stove, which made cooking home meals as well as heating their home much more efficient.

For such a family located close to the Christie Coal Mine, more often than not it would have burned this local fuel, but often the pioneer stoves were adaptable to wood as well. It all depended upon which combustible resource was available locally.

The couple’s golden wedding anniversary, in 1937, was celebrated with a large afternoon community gathering. In 1945, the Cassidys retired to Pincher Creek, acquiring a house on the south side of Main Street. Mrs. Cassidy passed away the following year at the age of 89. Dan Cassidy lived another dozen years, passing away at the age of 94.

One of the many intriguing aspects of the Cassidys’ history is the varied research sources utilized to put it together. Everything from old newspaper articles from the local and regional press, archival photographs housed at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village and local folklore can be accessed to compose a historical article from the local past.

These sources underscore the importance of preserving and documenting the district’s chronicles, thereby ensuring that they can be accessed and appreciated by future generations.

Old fashioned log cabin with wooden bench in front – heading for Frontier Canadian Recollections

Documents shed new light on early Pincher Creek ranches

Many locals are keenly aware of the varied and rich agricultural heritage that has blessed the Pincher Creek area for nearly a century and a half. Yet our historical research here at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village has uncovered old promotional materials from the late 1880s that shed some new light on the nature of some of the early family ranches.

Let’s have a look at a few of those early ranching operations.

 

 

Excellent stock-raising area

The promotional literature made note of the excellent stock-raising attributes of the Pincher Creek area. Initial concerns that this district was too close to the mountains, thereby endangering ranching operations through a lack of open rangeland accompanied by heavy winter snowfalls, proved to be largely erroneous.

Early experiences established, with a few exceptions such as the harsh blizzards of 1886-87, that the local winters were not plagued with large snow accumulations. The large grazing areas indeed were a blessing for the early ranchers.

Promotional campaigns made note of the abundance of the local rivers and creeks, which provided adequate water for stock raising. The ranching potential along the South, Middle and North forks of the Oldman River, including those tributaries such as Todd and Ross creeks, was emphasized.

Pincher, Mill and Halifax creeks also were heralded as excellent year-round water sources for those looking for early endeavours raising cattle and horses. The southwest was a ranching paradise second to none.

 

 

Butte Ranch partnership

One of the earliest cattle operations established in the Pincher Creek vicinity was the Butte Ranch, originally connected with pioneer Frederick W. Godsal.

This ranching giant later went into partnership with a Mr. Allfrey (of whom we now know little; he seems to have disappeared into the pages of history) and Lionel Brooke, our area’s most infamous remittance man. Brooke later bought out most of the ranch from Allfrey and Godsal.

Situated adjacent to the South Fork, the ranch was enhanced by many improvements over the years. By February 1888, it was “well provided with good stables and sheds” as well as two fresh-water wells. Much of the ranch was fenced, and Brooke had built up the cattle herd to include 200 head of stock, bred by polled Angus bulls.

In spite of Brooke’s lack of hands-on ranching experience, the Butte Ranch did flourish during those early years.

 

 

South Fork Ranch envied by many

By the late 1880s, F.W. Godsal also was connected with his nearby South Fork Ranch. It was publicly touted as being “one of the best-improved in the country.”

Godsal, considered one of the premier ranchers attached to the southwestern corner of the Canadian Prairies, had painstakingly changed the system by which he had ranched. After a few years of practical experience, he had come to the conclusion that there was more financial profit in ranching with smaller numbers of cattle, well cared for, than having a large herd that had to be left to the uncertainties of the open range.

His cattle on the South Fork Ranch numbered an annual average of 400, which Godsal maintained provided easy access to those animals that were weak and needed veterinary attention. Feed, primarily alfalfa and timothy (which too were raised on the ranch) was readily available during the cold, snow-filled weeks of winter.

The ranch numbered over 5,000 acres in size, most of which was unfenced pastureland.

 

 

The modern South Fork Ranch buildings were the envy of many a non-local rancher. The well-constructed main ranch house utilized local logs, and was designed to withstand the massive weather fluctuations so common to the area. Inside, the structure consisted of a parlour, a kitchen, a pantry and two bedrooms.

Surrounding the house was a fenced yard, a portion of which was cultivated for a garden. Nearby was a second house, measuring 18 by 20 feet, which was for the ranch hands.

The outbuildings included a large barn, half of which was used for the horses and a harness room. The second half of this 30-by-40-foot log structure was for the calves.

An extensive system of corrals and sheds complemented the ranch operation. The arrangements well suited the ever-particular Godsal.

 

 

Clear Water Ranche and French Flats

The Clear Water Ranche was located at French Flats, near the present village of Cowley, close to a mile and a half from the South Fork. French Flats derived its name early in our settlement history as a result of the large number of French Canadian and Métis families who settled there in order to take up ranching.

The Clear Water was operated under a partnership of Jones and Sharpe, two pioneers in their own right. The ranch was well known locally for its extensive cattle and horse breeding operations. The horse stock was being improved with two Clydesdale stallions named Atlas and Prince.

On the ranch, nearly 320 acres was fenced, most of which was utilized as pasture. Also grown was an annual allotment of 1,100 bushels of grain and smaller amounts of timothy.

 

 

The ranch buildings were extensive and well utilized. Featured was a log stable measuring 30 by 40 feet and complete with a loft. Farther down the yard were several outbuildings highlighted by a solid granary, a cow stable measuring 160 feet in length, and several sheds.

A solidly constructed 50-by-18-foot house, expanded during the summer of 1888, complemented the ranch buildings.

The Jones and Sharpe partnership worked well: the Clear Water Ranche was a flourishing success.

Each of these agricultural entities was well known for its cattle and horses.

 

 

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Old fashioned log cabin with wooden bench in front – heading for Frontier Canadian Recollections

Pioneer rancher and hotelkeeper Cole Sedgewick

One of the less chronicled but very interesting pioneers from the long-ago pages of our local history was Cole F. Sedgewick (circa 1878 -1931). Although he had hard luck in terms of his ranching and family background, his perseverance won him accolades from friends and neighbours.

Ranching and business ventures

Cole Sedgewick was born in rural Montana. There is some disagreement as to his birth year. The Dominion of Canada Census for 1911 lists it as 1878, while his obituary from 1931 indicates that he was only 48 years of age when he passed away. That would have made his year of birth 1883.

Such discrepancies are commonplace in old-time data and are challenges for both the local historian and the genealogist.

Sedgewick’s family ancestry was English, and he had two brothers. His parents were involved in the ranching industry and hotel business south of the line. They operated three hotels in different Montana centres during the frontier era.

Building upon those life experiences, Sedgewick came north to the Lundbreck area in 1899. According to the 1911 Dominion of Canada Census he became a British subject three years later. He established a ranch just a short distance from this agricultural and coal mining settlement.

 

 

This was in the year following completion of the Crowsnest line of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Within a few short years, he had built up a large cattle herd and the ranch flourished.

However, a severe snowstorm during the winter of 1910 spelled disaster, as most of his cattle were wiped out. The resulting financial setback forced Sedgewick to give up his ranching venture.

Disappointed but not prepared to give up on southern Alberta, our ever-resourceful pioneer headed to Lethbridge for a short period, where he pursued business options. He soon ventured west, however, settling in the coal mining town of Blairmore, the heart of the Crowsnest Pass. There he purchased a hotel, which he operated until 1923.

Building upon his business experiences at his Lundbreck ranch, Sedgewick secured a thriving trade for the hotel. The mines often were busy and the hotel was located close to the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks, which saw near continuous passenger and freight traffic.

 

 

B.C. commercial activities

After more than a decade in the midst of the Pass, Sedgewick took on another business venture, this time adjacent to Kootenay Lake in southern British Columbia.

Building upon the business contacts he had made many years earlier in Lethbridge, he attempted to organize an oil company for these entrepreneurs. In spite of their best efforts, the venture did not get off the ground, but within two years Sedgewick had secured a short-lived position with the Canadian Oil Co.

This position was successful due to Sedgewick’s organizational skills. He secured new capital and combined it with the monies of the Canadian Oil Co. to establish the Kootenay Oil Co. His efforts resulted in his being appointed its general manager, a job he held until 1928.

That year Shell Oil bought out the smaller corporation, but Sedgewick continued his work for another 12 months, resigning in 1929.

 

 

Not content to retire from business life, Cole Sedgewick acquired the Pitner’s Café in early 1931, renaming it the Plaza. His wife, Lois, took on active management of the business. However, disaster struck just a few weeks later, in March, when Cole passed away unexpectedly. He had been ill for only a short time.

The former Lois Porter, whom he married in July 1925, was Sedgewick’s second wife. Little is known of his first wife, other than she was born in 1878. Official records list her only by her first initial of “W.” She passed away while the couple resided on their Lundbreck area ranch, following several years of poor health.

Socially, Sedgewick was a member of the Presbyterian Church. He also was active in the Independent Order of Oddfellows when he resided in Blairmore, and later in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks when working in Nelson, B.C.

 

 

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