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COUNTY OF BARRHEAD No. 11 - Excerpts taken from the
"Story of Rural Municipal Government in Alberta 1909 to 1983" 
by the Association of the Municipal Districts and Counties

Contributed for use in Alberta Digital Archives by Darlene Homme


The present County of Barrhead had been made up, over the last fifty years, of 
parts of many Local Improvement Districts and Municipalities. Prior to the 
formation of local government in the area the country from Dunstable, in the 
south, to Fort Assiniboine, in the north, was in the beginning stages of 
development, with two main access roads to the city of Edmonton. These roads 
leading out of Edmonton were known as the Athabasca Trail, part of which is 
still being used today as Provincial Highway No. 2, !eading to the north and 
east areas, and the Klondike Trail used by the gold prospectors in 1898. This 
trail headed north and west through the present County of Barrhead.

It was natural that most settlement should take place along these old routes and 
gradually creep back to the hinterlands as more settlers came into the country. 
These settlers represented many nationalities but mainly British and American 
stock. Topographically, the Barrhead country had many swamps, lakes, natural hay 
meadows, and timber lands. It is traversed by two rivers-the Pembina and the 
Paddle. The area is bounded on the north by the Athabasca River. These natural 
boundaries presented an immense problem to the local authorities confronted as 
they were with the responsibility of providing adequate roads for the ratepayers 
who were constantly demanding better travelling conditions.

In the early 1900's the supply base for this country was the city of Edmonton, 
eighty miles from the centre of the settlement. As the years went by, the base 
of supplies became nearer as the towns of Morinville, Busby, Sangudo, and Onoway 
opened up due to the railways advance into the north and west. In 1928 the 
Northern Alberta Railway built what is known as the Pembina Valley Railway to 
Barrhead. This made marketing and purchasing of produce more convenient but it 
did not alleviate, rather it intensified the problems of local authorities as 
road needs changed to demands for access to the new railroad town. As this 
country was heavily timbered, many sawmills commenced operations and the 
companies built their own trails into the sawmills. Many of these trails were 
gradually improved to graded and gravelled standards.

The periodical flooding of both the Paddle and Pembina Rivers took their toll of 
many of the roads and bridges that were built. In fact they still do! Many miles 
of grade were washed out necessitating much rebuilding of roads and replacement 
of culverts and bridges.

The writer had the sad but extremely interesting experience of sitting-in at the 
collapse of the steel bridge across the Pembina at Belevedere. A few hours of 
pounding by extremely high water, ice flies and debris destroyed that which took 
months to build. The stresses and strains made the bridge sound almost human as 
it grunted and groaned, each sound more prolonged than the last, until the final 
collapse came. The centre pier at Manola caved in at the some time, the middle 
of it being under water. In spite of barricading to keep dare-devils from trying 
a crossing, a Volkswagen slipped under the barricade, down into the water , and 
came up safety on the other side! There is no accounting for the pioneer spirit 
of some of our present day citizens!

The demand for better travelling conditions among the growing settlements in the 
Barrhead area culminated in the formation of Local Improvement Districts under 
elected local authorities. The first one formed, in May of 1910, was L.I.D. No. 
30-B-5. This was called the Paddle River L.I.D. This one and three others, 29-
A.5, 29-B-5 and 30-A-5 were subsequently the L.I.D. of Lockerbie No. 580. The 
first meeting was held in Gordon McDonald's home at Dunstable. Gordon, later 
became the member of Parliament for that constituency. Markus Basche, first 
Reeve, is at present in the Auxiliary Hospital at Westlock taking an active 
interest in all that goes on. The newly elected council comprised Markus Basche, 
Ernie Steinert, C.F. Speck, R.D. Taylor, and Otis Johnson. George Koffman was 
appointed secretary-treasurer at a salary of $225.00 per year. Lockerbie 
presently became a municipality. Among those who deserve mention for fine 
service over the years in Lockerbie were Alex Swanson, R.F. Klein, R.F. Wilson, 
N.D. Kerrison, F. Clapp, W. Lamont, C.W. Hoff, H. Crichlow, C. Sylvester, F. 
Farry, R. J. MacGinnis, G. Broadhead, F. Brant, J.G. MacGregor, K. Klumph, 
Weisondorfer, E.G. Kipp, William Shelly, J. B. Nixon, William Johnson, A.S 
Beach, Wayne Rogers, J. Borle, H. Terhorst, P.R. Hooper, Bert Whittaker.

In 1928 a new district to the north of Lockerbie became the Shoal Creek 
Municipality about ten years after the formation of Pershing to the west of 
Lockerbie in 1918. In 1943 the new Municipal District of Westlock No. 562 was 
defined. It comprised the following areas: all of Tawatinaw No. 608, all of 
Pibroch No. 609, all of Shoal Creek No. 610, part of Lockerbie No. 580, and part 
of Hazelwood No. 579. The final meeting of Lockerbie took place on the 28th of 
January, 1943. At this time, Pershing was absorbed into Lac Ste. Anne.

At the first meeting of the new Westlock M.D. the following councillors took 
their seats: Alois Zaczowski, Henry Terhorst, Fred Casavant, Leslie Short, Moise 
Dusseault, William Giles, and William Johnson. Johnson, of Barrhead, was 
appointed the first Reeve. Thomas Garde became the secretary-treasurer, a post 
he held with the Pibroch M.D. In 1946, upon Mr. Garde's death, Mr. F. W. 
Stutchbury succeeded him. "Stutch" had previously been secretary of Lockerbie.

The M.D. of Westlock continued until 1955 and during these years, the succession 
of councillors was as follows: George Schultz, Sam Nowakowsky, W. A. MacGregor, 
Frank Armstrong, Otto Trautman, John Harry, Fred Madson, Oscar Wiese, Walleston 
Merdier. In 1955, an order-in-council by the Provincial Government under the Co-
Terminous Boundary Commission designated two new Municipalities:	Barrhead No. 
106 and Westlock No. 92.

The Barrhead M.D. was formed from part of Lac Ste. Anne, part of Westlock and 
parts of L.l.D. No's.107 and 108. W. A. MacGregor organized the first election 
for Barrhead, N.S. Kennedy, Municipal Inspector for the Department was appointed 
Administrator, and Gerald (Jerry) Rourke, Departmental Accountant was the 
temporary secretary. Mr. Rourke served in this capacity until the appointment of 
Mr. Ronald Penrice, who previously had been Assistant Secretary at Sturgeon. The 
Barrhead School Division provided office space until the council rented an old 
garage building downtown which was converted by the owner into adequate 
accommodation for the Municipal Administration.

The first council for the M.D. of Barrhead was elected in March of 1955 and took 
the oath of office on the seventeenth of March. There were five electorial 
divisions represented by the following councillors: Division One-W.R.S. Wilson, 
whose father had previously been councillor for the old M.D. of Lockerbie; 
Division Two-E.N.Enders; Division Three-Win Olthuis, Division Four-George 
Schultz, previously Reeve of Westlock M.D., and Division Five-Claude McKay. 
George Schultz, who spent many years in Municipal work, having been councillor 
in Stony Plain and Westlock, was elected Reeve, a position he holds to the 
present day.

The municipality continued to function until 1958 when, with unanimous consent 
of the Barrhead School Division and the Municipal Council, permission was 
requested from the Department of Municipal Affairs for the formation of a County 
type of Government. Permission being granted the County of Barrhead came into 
existence.

The formation of a County necessitated the amalgamation of school and Municipal 
administration and as the previous School Division had an administration 
building, this became the headquarters of the County. There were now seven 
divisions instead of the former five and the successful candidates for office of 
councillors were: Division 1- Norton Green, orevious school board member 
Division 2-Stan Barton; Division 3-George Schultz; Division 4- Charles Rossman; 
Division 5- Eddie Enders; Division 6- Kenneth McKenzie and Division 7- William 
Olthuis.

As the previous school division was not co-terminous with the boundaries of the 
County but extended into L.I.D.'s 108 and 109, the representative elected to sit 
on the School Committee of the County from this area was Rex Robinson from Fort 
Assiniboine. Earle Lane represented the town of Barrhead, Secretary-treasurer of 
the County was Ronald Price with W.A. MacGregor as Assistant-secretary and in 
charge of school administration. The assessment of the new County was slightly 
over three million dollars and the tax rate was set at eighty-five mills.

In a subsequent election in Division 1, W.R.S. Wilson replaced Norton Green and 
in 1965, due to ill health, Eddie Enders was unable to continue his duties. He 
was replaced by Joe Smith of Naples. Rex Robinson still represents the L.I.D.'s 
and Charles Yuill replaced Earle Lane who decided not to run again. In 1967, 
Gordon McArthur was appointed by the Village of Fort Assiniboine as the third 
Town and Village Representative on the School Committee. Gordon was a member and 
chairman of the old school division. Charles Yuill was the former Member of 
Parliament for Jasper-Edson. Mention should be made of the first assessor for 
Barrhead, Mr. Paul Lloyd, who had spent many years assessing for the Department 
as a private assessor, Paul was very meticulous and thorough in his work and he 
often used to say to the writer, "Bill, you must not presume anything, it is 
your duty to assemble all the facts." He therefore did an excellent job of his 
assessing.

Tribute should also be paid to one of the long-time school teachers in the area, 
Mr. Jack Harris, who taught continuously, except for his overseas service in 
World War I, in a one-room school at Mosside, from 1913 to 1964 at which time he 
retired. Jack, as he was affectionately known by his former pupils and friends, 
was teaching third and fourth generation of his original students at the time of 
his retirement. The result of his instruction by teaching and example are very 
much in evidence in the County of Barrhead to this day. The County, in 
recognition of his outstanding ability and the respect in which he was held, 
named the Junior High School at Barrhead "The Jack Harris Junior High School."

Many amusing incidents occur over the years in municipal work. Two such 
incidents are recalled now. The secretary and some of the councillors met with 
Departmental officials to iron out a problem they were having at the time. After 
much discussion, the trouble was resolved to everyone's satisfaction. The 
secretary felt so relieved that he invited the members to his home for some 
refreshments, which everyone thought was a splendid idea. The lady of the house 
was absent. Unfortunately, "mix" was in short supply, though there was plenty of 
the main ingredients. One enterprising chap, on looking through the cupboard 
said, "Hold it, here is something that will do." The new mix was tried and it 
was good. Eventually all returned to work. The writer had occasion to visit the 
secretary the same evening, and on entering the house the wife said, "Just tell 
me something please, before I go nuts, I didn't mind the cigar smoke, and ashes 
everywhere, or the burns in the carpet, but in the name of God, what did you use 
for a mix?" "I can't even scrape it out of the glasses!" The answer was, 
"Haven't you ever heard of JELLO with the seven different flavors?"

The other tragi-humorous incident involved an old Scotsman who had come in with 
the early settlers. He had an abiding love for his horses and owned some of the 
best ones in the community. Being always interested in local affairs, he was 
usually chosen as DRO for the elections in the Division where he lived, always 
discussing the ORDINANCE, as he called the Election Act, with the Returning 
Officer, who happened in this case, to be the present writer. So these two 
became fast friends. After many years, he got the road built past his farm, and 
since there were a couple of muskeg bogs on the roadway, the councillor got 
permission to dig a borrow pit inside the fence of the old Scotsman's property 
for some clay for the roadbed. A few weeks after the road was finished, the old 
chap came into the municipal office to report one of his Clydesdale mares had 
drowned in the borrow pit. "They didna' put up the fence as they had promised 
and the mare wandered in an' couldna' get hersel' oot!" With tears in his eyes 
as he was telling the story, he said, "Mac, ue ken, I would almost rather it hae 
ben ma wee wuman than ma mare, ye ken!"

The success of any organization is primarily derived from the solid foundation 
on which it was built and the elected and appointed people who are responsible 
for its administration. "Stu" Kennedy set out with this idea in mind for he 
often said, "We are going to make this the best little M.D. in the province." He 
inspired everyone who worked there with the same idea. With the able assistance 
of George Schultz, who had worked hard for the formation of the Barrhead 
Municipality and who knew his ratepayers and their problems better than most 
people, and the other able men elected as councillors during the following 
years, Stu's ambition had been realized even beyond his expectations.

Recognition is due to a succession of good organizers in various fields, 
particularly in the agricultural one which affects nearly all ratepayers. Mr. 
C.R. "Kit" Robinson, first District Agriculturist, and Mr. William YuiIl, who 
succeeded him; Mr. Glynne Jones, first Field Supervisor under the newly formed 
Agricultural Service Board and Roy Steinbring, who is now Field Supervisor; Mr. 
Weber, Mr. Koberstein and Mr. Bouchard were Assistant Secretaries after Bill 
MacGregor's move to Westlock, Mr. Penrice went to the Department of Education, 
and Mr. Frank Dawley, and Mr. Allan Charles served successively as Secretaries.

Over the years there seems to have not been enough appreciation given to the 
elected representatives of the people for the time and consideration they give 
to their duties in public office. Even when they are engaged in their own work 
on their farms they are pondering-which road-which bridge-which ditch should 
have priority, what is the equitable thing to do? A salute to the wives of these 
men who carry on the chores early and late so these men can be on the road, is 
in order. Only when elected officials can sit down together and discuss problems 
dispassionately is good government accomplished.


1983 UPDATE

Continuing Bill McGregor's history of the County of Barrhead No. 11 from 1969 to 
1982 reveals many new faces around the council and board table with the only 
survivors being Joe Smith as councillor and board of education member, Allan 
Charles as the county manager and Roy Steinbring being the agricultural 
fieldman.

At the administration level, Ernie Bourchard (1967-1971), The assistant 
secretary-treasurer, was replaced by Lloyd Brattly (1971-1981) and then by Doug 
Barker in 1981.

Walter Hryciuk (1959-1971) The superintendent of schools was replaced by Dr. 
Harvey L. Treleaven in 1971. Gary Kiernan, acting superintendent, filled in for 
Dr. Treleaven during a 14 month sabbatical during 1980-81. A number of assistant 
superintendents have served the post starting with Marjorie Affolter, Roger 
Kangas, Gary Kiernan and at present, Don Duncan.

At the council level, Ervine Wimmer replaced Bill Wilson in 1971 in Division 
One.

Division Two saw Phil Fluet replace Stan Barton in 1971 and three years later 
Jim Ryder was elected to replace Phil in the 1974 election.

Division Three long time councillor and reeve, George Schultz was replaced by 
Bob O'Brien in 1971 and then by Lawrence Miller in the 1977 election.

In Division Four, Charles Rossman gave up his seat to incumbent Karl Wahl 
following Charlie's resignation in 1974.

Division Five has been represented by our present Reeve Joe Smith Since 1966.

Division Six saw many changes from the days of Kenny McKenzie to his 
replacements, Norman Kuhn, Kenn Tuckey and presently, Don Fraser.

Division Seven long time representative Bill Olthuis hung up his shoes in 1980, 
giving up his kingdom to Albert Elgersma.

Town and village representatives on the board of education have also made 
complete changes. The Town of Barrhead long time member Charles Yuill forfeited 
his seat to Dr. Sam Huculak in 1969. Alvin Gross was then elected to fill the 
vacancy in 1974. In 1977 the Town of Barrhead qualified for two representatives 
on the board of education and Wilma Thompson was elected to fill the second 
seat.

The Improvement District #15 representative Rex Robinson resigned in 1969 giving 
way to Luke Renkema who served until 1980. Luke did not run in the 1980 election 
and as a result of the poll held, his daughter-in-law, Pauletta Renkema was 
elected.

The Village of Fort Assiniboine was represented by Gordon McArthur until his 
death in 1971. His spouce Enid McArthur was elected in his place following 
Gordon's death.

The area within the County of Barrhead, formerly the M.D. of Barrhead #106 and 
the Barrhead School Division #59 has remained stable in size except for some 
annexation around the Town of Barrhead. Nevertheless, budgets have grown at the 
municipal level from a low of $438,341 .00 in 1975 to over $6,000,000.00 in 
1982. The school budget has gone from $220,226.00 in 1955 to over $8,815,000.00 
in 1982.

In reviewing the municipal and school involvement since 1955 it is interesting 
to note that a great expansion of services has been offered to our ratepayers 
and electors over the past 27 years. Ervine Wimmer, representing Division One, 
served as deputy reeve from 1977 to 1981, chairman of the board of education for 
the past two years 1980 to 1982, hospital board and nursing home board 
memberforthe past 11 years, agricultural service board member for the past 11 
years, three years on the exhibition board, the past four years as a director on 
the North Central Alberta School Authorities Association as well as negotiating 
member of the North Central Alberta School Authorities Association for the past 
three years. Ervine has also been appointed to many adhoc committees of both the 
board of education and county council throughout the past 11 years.

Jim Ryder, representing Division Two, has served eight years on the county 
council and the board of education and served as vice-chairman of the 
agricultural service board prior to being elected as chairman of the 
agricultural service board in 1980. Jim has also served on other adhoc 
committees of both the board and county council and is presently serving his 
second term as vice-chairman of the Alberta School Trustees' Association zone 
II.

Lawrence Miller, representing division three, has served as chairman of the 
county recreation board as well as the chairman of the regional recreation board 
and has been the representative on the sturgeon health unit board since 1980 and 
a member of the airport commission and the economic development board. Again, 
Lawrence has served on many adhoc committees.

Karl Wahl, representing Division Four, has been the deputy reeve since 1981 and 
has served as a representative on the Hillcrest Senior Citizens' Board as well 
as the day care board and the North Central Association of the Mentally and 
Related Handicapped also serving on the seed plant board. Karl also served as a 
member and chairman on the Family and Community Support Services Board (formerly 
RS.S. Board) and is presently the representative on the Yellowhead Regional 
Planning Commission. Karl also has served on otheradhoccommittees of both 
council and the board of education.

Joe Smith, representing Division Five, served as chairman ofthe Hillcrest 
Foundation as well as chairman ofthe Barrhead General Hospital and Nursing Home 
and a member of the Yellowhead Regional Library Board. Joe has been reeve of the 
county since 1977 and has served on the municipal planning commission and has 
represented the county on the Alberta Development Corporation Board. Joe is 
presently serving on the provincial Alberta Association of Municipal Districts 
and Counties executive and was a member of the zone Ill Edmonton Union 
executive. Again, Joe has served on many other adhoc committees since his 
appointment in 1966.

Don Fraser, representing Division Six, is presently the chairman of the 
Hillcrest Foundation and is the Alternate member on the Yellowhead Regional 
Planning Commission Board. Don has also served since 1979 on the municipal 
planning commission. Again Don has served on a number of other adhoc committees 
over the years.

Albert Elgersma, representing Division Seven, has served on the educational 
committees including the salary committee other than teachers, the grounds 
committee, school accounts committee and the joint educational advisory 
committee. At the municipal level, he has served on the machinery committee, the 
court of revision, the salary committee, other than teachers, the municipal 
planning commission, the appeal board, the rural road study committee, the 
Neerlandia Sewage Committee, the agricultural service board, the accounts 
committee,The Family and Community Support Services Board, the seed cleaning 
plant and also as honorary fire guardian and the council representative on the 
fire committee.

Alvin Gross, representing the Board of Education from the Town of Barrhead, has 
also served on a number of committees during his term of office and has served 
on the Alberta School Trustees' Association Zone II executive and is presently 
working on the minister's advisory committee relative to the computer 
technology. Alvin has also served on a number of adhoc committees with the board 
of education, including the policy development committee.

Wilma Thompson, again representing the Town of Barrhead, has served as the 
deputy board chairman for the past year as well as the member representing the 
Yellowhead Regional Library Board and was at one time the representative for the 
North Central Association for the Mentally and Related Handicapped. Wilma has 
also served on a number of adhoc Committees.

Enid McArthur, representing the Village of Fort Assiniboine, has served on a 
number of adhoc committees including the joint education advisory committee over 
the years.

Pauletta Renkema, representing the Improvement District #15 again has served on 
a number of adhoc committees with the board of education including the joint 
educational advisory committee as well as the policy development committee and 
the grounds committee.

Many other committee appointments have been delegated to various trustees and 
county councillors and naming some that have not been mentioned above, would 
include the Barrhead and District Economic Development Board, the Midnight 
Twilight Tourist Association and the Airport Commission.

At the board of education level, we have representation of the board on the 
further ed. council and many others too numerous to mention.

Since the writing of the last history, the position of superintendent of schools 
has changed from a departmental position to a board responsibility in 1971. 
Following the appointment of our superintendent came the appointments of the 
assistant superintendent as well as other co-ordinators, directors, speech 
therapists and guidance councillors.

We have come a long way from the horse pulled grader to a new 140 motor grader 
costing approximately $200,000.00 or from a school building costing less than 
$10.00 per square foot to a new high of $100.00 per square foot.
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