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County of Wheatland History - 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 County of Wheatland No. 16 was organized in the year 1961 and consisted of
the bounds of the former Municipal District of Wheatland No. 40. It consists of
some 55 townships of land lying north of the Bow River and south of Highway No.
9-east of range 27 as far as the Red Deer River.
Consisting of some 1,222,507 acres of land which includes the Blackfoot Indian
Reserve lying north of the Bow River as 87,239 acres of land. The area is a good
farming district and well settled, served by some 2,660 miles of improved roads,
1,610 of which are hard surfaced or gravelled.
There are 8,400 assessable parcels of land farmed by 1,500 farmers with total
population at 1961 of 5,570. The County office is located in Strathmore and is
governed by seven Councillors. The value of the present road equipment after
depreciation is over $666,000. The background of the County is an amalgamation
of two enlarged former Municipal Districts. In 1955 it was formed by the union
of the Municipal District of Serviceberry No. 248 and the Municipal District of
Bow Valley No. 40 at which time the office and administration was located in
Prior to this the Municipal Districts of Serviceberry No. 248 was formed by a
union of the Municipal District of Keoma No. 249 and the Municipal District of
Grasswold No. 248, plus some townships of unorganized lands governed as Local
Improvement Districts, east of the Municipal District of Grasswold as far as the
Red Deer River, lying north of township 24, comprising some 564,679 acres.
The Municipal District of Bow Valley No. 40 was formed by the union of the
Municipal District of Bow Valley No. 219 and the Municipal District of Blackfoot
No. 218, plus some townships of Local Improvement District lands comprising
565,505 acres of land.
These Municipal Districts centered on towns as follows:
Keoma No. 249 -Irricana
Grasswold No. 248 -Rockyford
Bow Valley No. 219 -Strathmore
Blackfoot No. 218 -Gleichen
where the previous Municipal Offices had been located with organized
administrative councils. The Local Improvement Districts areas were
administrated from Edmonton through the Department of Municipal Affairs.
So to sketch the history of the small original units, I shall go back to the
The Municipal District of Keoma No. 249 was organized first in 1913 as a Rural
Municipality of Keoma No. 249. The first secretary-treasurer was Mr. D.W. Powers
of Keoma, who conducted his office in his farm home NW 7-26-26-W4. The first
financial statement of 1913 showed taxes collected as $2,204.86 for municipal
and school purposes. The bank account was conducted in Langdon. Mr. H.R. Roach
made the audit in 1913. On May 19th, 1913 by-law No. 2 was passed, wherein, the
District was authorized to borrow, by way of debentures, the sum of $25,000 for
road purposes at 6% from the Huron and Erie Mortgage Company. Early growth was
slow, in 1915 the road equipment was listed as 2 horse road graders, 4 wheel
scrapers, and 16 slush scrapers and 7 ploughs. The municipal taxes collected as
$6,507 and school taxes collected as $4,735.81. There were 9 schools organized
and built. The bounds of the District comprised 9 townships; 25, 26 and 27;
ranges 24, 25 and 26; W4. The first office building was a small building (size
16 x 24 teetj located on the NE7-26-25-W4 and was visited by the secretary-
treasurer once a week for the collection of taxes and the council meetings were
held there. Mr. Charley Thompson of Keoma, was the first Reeve, he was a farmer
and lived on SE16-26-26-W4. Other important by-laws passed were by-law No. 1, to
unite with 19 other municipalities to form a Hail Insurance District. The 1915
audit sheet shows the rate to be 5-1/2 cents per acre and the assessable acreage
128,216 acres. Also, in July 1914 a by-law was passed to prohibit animals to run
at large. Between July 1st and November 1st, pounds were established. The
district was rapidly being fenced and on July 9th, 1917, a by-law was passed
under the Fence Ordinance Act establishing a lawful fence, 3 barbed wires and
posts 2 rods apart, with 3 droppers between posts.
The Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs in Edmonton during these years was Mr.
In 1918, a Government tax as result of war was passed on to the taxpayers,
called the Supplementary Revenue Tax and the rate was 4 cents per acre on
assessable lands. The first levy was $6,076~80 This tax was supposed to be
removed in latter years but never has been and the rate was later changed to a
straight 2 mills. In 1918 the name was changed to the Municipal District of
Keoma No. 249 from Rural Municipality of Keoma No. 249.
During these early years the area changed from a ranching area to straight
farming. The lands south of the Rosebud River were all C.P.R. Main Line grant
lands and were being sold to settlers. First, on a 20 year contract with 10%
purchase price down. Few, however, managed to keep up with the payments and
later was changed to a 34 year contract by the Company.
Mr. Powers held office until 1921 when he retired and Mr. Frank J. Ewing was
appointed as secretary-treasurer. The Reeve then was Mr. William Galloway of
Keoma. Subsequent reeves were P.H. Donkin of Ardenode, V. Kempton of Keoma, and
D. Howell and A. C. Scratch of Irricana, J. H. Schwaltz of Beiseker, and W.E.
Mercer of Strathmore and George Boyack of Keoma. These officers covered a span
of years from 19~1 to 1943. The office was used on NE7-26-25-W4 until 1923 when
space was rented in Irricana and a full-time office maintained. This was
conducted on a rental basis until 1928 when an office was built (size 24 x 32
feet), stucco with vault for records.
An interesting note re: the vault door is recorded in that Mr. F. J. Ewing
purchased the vault door, second-hand from the Post Office Department in
Calgary. It was used in the lrricana office from 1928 to 1943 when the office
was moved to Rockyford, a vault was built and addition to the then present
office and the door installed on the new vault. It served there until 1955 when
it was moved to Strathmore in 1956 and installed in the present County Office.
I have mentioned the land was mainly C.P.R. land and a lot was unsold. The
Company paid great attention to the matter of the assessment values placed on
the lands. Their tax officer Mr. A.E. Hope was a very diligent officer for the
CP.R. in this regard. They also paid the arrears of taxes on settlers land when
same were placed in tax sale proceedings, charged to the settlers contract and
during the 1930's many signed a release on the contract and took a lease. Many
were forced off the land and some were given new 34 year contracts at a greatly
reduced contract price.
The taxes fell so far in arrears the Government passed the Tax Consolidation Act
providing as much as 26% discount and wrote off the penalties added, allowing
the taxpayer 5 years to pay the principle on arrears plus the current levy. I
would say this legislation did more for the taxpayer than any Act ever passed in
the Taxation field. The first contracts went into effect in 1933 and the
contracts continued allowable until as late as 1945 when the last were
Legislation was passed setting up enlarged School Division as at January 1st,
1939. Mr. F. J. Ewing was engaged as official auditor to make the master audit
of the schools in Keoma and Bow Valley. Some 44 sheets of books were audited and
a master statement and ledger set up for the Bow Valley School Division No. 40.
Mr. Ewing continued to do the audit for the subsequent 5 years. This reduced the
accounting work in Keoma from 23 schools in 1938 to just one unit from January
In 1928, Mr. Ewing designed loose leaf tax roll with a roll sheet for each
parcel which he set up in the office and used for quite a number of years-the
first use of this system in the Province. Later, the Executive of Secretaries
Association interviewed Messrs, Winspear and Hamilton, a firm of Chartered
Accountants in Edmonton, who prepared a brief and presented it to Mr. Soutter,
then the Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs. As a result, the loose leaf tax
roll was universally adopted in the Province in 1943.
In 1943, the Municipal District of Serviceberry No. 43 was created which
consisted of the Municipal Districts of Keoma and Grasswold and several
townships of Local Improvement District land. The office was located in
Rockyford, the first Reeve was Axel A. Larsen of Standard, and Frank J. Ewing
was appointed secretary-treasurer. This functioned from 1943 to the end of 1954
when the administration was dissolved and the area incorporated within the
enlarged Municipal District known as the Municipal District of Wheatland No. 40,
with the office in Strathmore. This operated the administration of the
Municipal needs of the area. The school facilities being carried on by an
enlarged School Division known as the Wheatland School Division No. 40 with the
same boundaries. The school office was in Strathmore, Mr. H. Willson was
secretary-treasurer, and Mr. Max Phillips as Chairman.
A long-time Councillor, Mr. R.E. Kenney of Redland, was elected in 1936 and
served without an election until 1943 in the Municipal District of Grasswold and
carried on into the Municipal District of Serviceberry until the end of 1954.
Municipal District of Bow Valley No. 219
The first organization of the above was held in Strathmore in December, 1909,
called a Road District No. 12T14, as the area was still a Local Improvement
District. J.A. Schultz was Chairman and D. F. Boissivain was Secretary. In
January, 1910, Mr. W.S. Way was appointed secretary-treasurer at an annual
salary of $300.00. Taxes were "fixed" at 5 cents per acre. An order was placed
for road equipment of 6 slush scrapers, 2 wheel scrapers, and 2 road plows and
one road grader in March 1910, also one carload of bridge timber lumber to cost
In 1911, the area was organized as a RÔral Municipal District with Mr. W. S. Way
as secretary-treasurer, and E.E. Green as Chairman; Mr. D.N. Gardner became
secretary-treasurer in 1925 and served until 1936 when L.C. Van Tighem took over
until 1941, when Mr. J. Riddock became secretary-treasurer, until 1943 when Mr.
W. E. Thompson was appointed and served until 1955 when the enlarged Municipal
District was formed.
Early Reeves in office were:
E.E. Green 1913- 1915
Angus Watson 1916 -1919
H.S.B. Chamberlain 1924- 1932
Frank Skeve 1920- 1922
H. Groves 1933- 1938
C. F. Baker 1923- 1924
J. Harwood 1939-1954
Summary of acreages (1943):
MD. of Keoma No. 249 -201,154 acres
M.D. of Grasswold No. 248 -213,749 acres
M.D. of Bow Valley No. 219 -185,024 acres
M.D. of Blackfoot No. 218 -182,189 acres
Municipal District of Blackfoot No. 218.
A nine township Municipal District comprising part of townships 21, 22 and 23
and ranges 21, 22 and 23, reduced in area by the Blackfoot Indian Reserve to
It was organized as a Municipal District in the year 1922, and first Reeve being
Mr. F. Daw, who held office until 1923. A summary of the Reeves is as follows:
F. Daw 1922-1923 T.A. Thorseen 1925- 1941 (July)
J.A. Maynard 1924- 1925 J.A. MacArthur 1941-1943
The first secretary-treasurer appointed was C.B. Hyndman who held office from
1922 to August 1927 when W.E. Thompson was appointed and held office until 1943
at which time the District was disorganized to form a part of the enlarged
Municipal District of Bow Valley. The office was then moved from Gleichen to
A memo of road equipment in 1922 was as follows: 9 fresnos, 13 scrapers, 6 plows
valued at $850.96. In 1926 nine small road patrol graders were purchased.
A "first" was established in 1925-a Road Commissioner, J.E. Wright was appointed
to lay out and have charge of all public works, relieving the Councillors of
this duty. His stipend was $900.00 per year. He was qualified to run levels and
keep records. This carried on successfully for several years.
The Municipal District of Grasswold No. 248.
The first official meeting of the Municipal District of Grasswold was held in
Standard on November 14th, 1914. Those present were Chairman C.P. DahI and
members W.W. Bolick, J.H. McDill, J.L. Lawrence, and T.L. Ferguson. The object
of the meeting, the formation of a Municipality lying in townships 25-26 and 27,
in ranges 21, 22 and 23, W4th, consisting of 9 townships. Arrangements were made
for an election of a Council. The first official council meeting was held in the
Union Bank at Standard, those elected being, Reeve. H.W. Leonard of Tudor, and
Councillors H.W. Kennedy, of Rockyford; L.W. Comstock of Rosebud; W.W. Bolick of
Standard; J.H. McDill of Standard, and T.P. Ferguson of Standard as secretary-
treasurer at a salary of $600.00. The first office was in the Union Bank
Building at Standard. The early schools organized were Dana, Tudor, and Severn
Creek, Glenrose and Rosebud Creek.
Mr. E. W. Pust was appointed secretary-treasurer in 1916 and the office was
moved to Tudor. Mr. C.P. Dahl was appointed the assessor. Mr. R. S. Frayne was
appointed tax collector with a salary of 5% on all taxes collected.
In November 1920 the office was moved to Rockyford and a brick office was built
with financial assistance from the town of Rockyford. Mr. Pust having died, Mr.
A.L. Williams was appointed secretary-treasurer in February 1935. Salary of
$1,200 per year. Mr. H. C. Barr was then Reeve. Mr. Williams served until 1943
when the Municipal District No. 248 was dissolved and Municipal District of
Serviceberry was constituted and Mr. F.J. Ewing became secretary-treasurer. The
office was enlarged by building a Council Room and a new vault. Mr. Ewing
carried on as secretary-treasurer until 1955 when the Municipal District of
Serviceberry was dissolved by the creation of the enlarged new Municipal
District of Wheatland No. 40.
The major portion of the county is within the Western Irrigation District.
Obtaining water from a dam on the Bow River at Calgary, it is led throughout the
area spilling into the Rosebud and Serviceberry Rivers and also the Bow River.
About 700 or roughly 50% of the resident farmers have Irrigation contracts. It
is used mostly for pastures, trees, home sites, and stock wintering purposes.
Generally speaking, the farms are not conscious or skilled in irrigation usage.
Despite good soil types and many dry falls where water could be used after
threshing. The ditches were built by the C.P.R. under contract mostly by horse
labor in 1910 -1911 and 1912. In 1944 the C.P.R. gave the irrigation system over
to the farmers, all the works, buildings, and machinery plus a cash sum of
$400,000. A trusteeship of farmers manages same subsequently. The office and
shops are in Strathmore. Mr. R. Ferguson has continued as secretary-treasurer
and Mr. William Slater is Manager.
The enlarged Municipal District of Serviceberry No. 43 was formed in 1943 with
office and shop in Rockyford. It consisted of the former Municipal District of
Keoma No. 249 and Grasswold No. 248, plus several townships of Local Improvement
Districts to the east running to the Red Deer River. The NW portion of Keoma
Municipal District was deleted to coincide with the School Districts and an area
of land was added up to Highway No. 9, with a total land area of 564,679 acres.
Mr. Frank J. Ewing was appointed secretary-treasurer and served until 1955 when
the Municipal District was disorganized to form part of Municipal District of
Wheatland No. 40. The first Reeve Was A.A. Larsen of Standard who served one
year and was followed in 1944 by Mr. George Bozack of Keoma, who held the office
The enlarged Municipal District of Bow Valley No. 40 was formed in 1943 with
office in Strathmore. The area consisted of the former Municipal District of
Blackfoot No. 218 and the Municipal District of Bow Valley No. 219, with Mr. W.
Thompson appointed as secretary-treasurer, who held office until 1955. Mr. Jack
Riddock was appointed Assistant Secretary-treasurer. Mr. James Harwood was
appointed fleeve and held office through 1955.
One important "first" was the joint purchase of a gravel crushing Cedar Rapids
plant which was operated in partnership with the Municipal District of
Serviceberry, also, an overshot loader. Several gravel pits were acquired
throughout the District and in this period of 1943 - 1955 the main roads were
gravelled. It was the first municipal gravel crusher owned in the Province and
saved much funds for the Districts and operated with mutual satisfaction.
The enlarged Municipal District of Wheatland No. 40 was formed in 1955 with
office and shop in Strathmore. It consisted of the former Municipal Districts of
Bow Valley No. 40 and Serviceberry No. 43 with further additions of Local
Improvement District townships to the east, and some 87,239 acres of land north
of the Bow River on the Blackfoot Indian Reserve. The schools were left to be
administered by a separate Board and Office Secretary which was in Strathmore in
a separate office.
The first secretary-treasurer was W.E. Thompson who held office until March
1957. Mr. Frank J. Ewing was assistant Secretary-treasurer. Mr. Thompson held
office until March 1957 when Mr. Ewing was appointed and served until March 1961
when the County was organized.
Mr. James Harwood acted as Reeve during 1955-1956 and 1957, when Mr. T.
Chamberlain Jr. was appointed as Reeve and acted until 1966 when Mr. Emile
Cammaert was appointed Reeve.
The County was set up in March 1961, the secretary-treasurer appointed being Mr.
Frank Martin, who has acted subsequently. Mr. T. Chamberlain acted as Reeve
during the years 1961-1965 when Mr. Cammaert was appointed in March 1966. He has
held office since.
The school administration was taken on in 1961 as well as the municipal
administration. The County Council now consists of 7 members representing 7
electoral wards. Mr. M. Holman, Superintendent of Schools, assists in school
administration- 1903 pupils with teaching staff of 96 teachers. It is
interesting to note now that 155 Indian students are integrated into the County
The County owns 22 school buses and rents 27 others. They bus about two-thirds
of the pupils in the County. There were originally 90 school districts in the
County. It has been centralized to 14. The County has schools and teacherages
valued at over 2-1/2 million dollars with buses and other assets aggregates over
13 million dollars.
The County spent this year (1967) over 1/4 million dollars on capital
expenditure on new machinery. The inventory of equipment owned after
depreciation totals $666,131.
The Highway No. 1 runs through the District and Highway No. 9, a total of 103
miles of hard surfaced highway. The assessment is over 16 million.
In 1918, three colonies of Hutterites established themselves in the area north
of Rockyford along the Rosebud River. They came from North Dakota and Montana at
the time they consisted of some 50 souls on each colony. The original colonies
were known as Rosebud, Springvale and Stahlville.
Since then they have moved throughout the County and now have colonies known as
Sandhills, Tachetter, Sunshine, and Cluny colonies. They have increased their
land holdings until they own about 6,000 acres in each colony. In addition to
this all the colonies have divided several times and established new colonies in
various parts of the Province. The division occurs when the population grows to
around 100 in each colony.
The English Colony
In 1909 and 1910, the C.P.R. sponsored a settlement on the land in township 25-
24-Wth of English families on small 80 acre farms. They furnished them with
irrigation contracts and a ready made set of buildings; house and barn. The
settlement centered around Nightingale and Ardenode. The family names most
prominent known to me were Wader, Griffiths, Newalls, Goodwins, Hilton, Pamment,
Gothard, Nicholls, and Pooles. The economic farm set up was too small and only 5
families survived until 1921, namely Griffiths, Hiltons, Gothards, Pooles, and
Newalls. The contract price of land was too high at $40.00 per acre plus the
cost of the buildings. Dry land was valued at $15.00 and irrigated land an extra
$25.00 per acre.
The Danish Colonies
Two Danish colonies were established early in the County. One around Standard
and one other around Datum. In both these areas the land was extra good quality
and the settlers skilled in agriculture. The colonies prospered and they
retained their cultural family customs, becoming some of the best improved,
building wise, farmsteads and prosperous farms. The Standard Colony was
organized by a Lutheran Church Committee from Iowa who came up in 1909 and filed
on C.P.R. land. The members of the committee were Jens Rasmussen, J.R.H. Myrthu
and O.P. Hansen. The bulk of the early settlers moved on the land in 1910.
The colony at Dalum was organized by a Mr. Jens Vass, A C.P.R. land agent who
came originally from Chicago. With him were Rev. Peter Rasmussen, Marius and
Albert Jorgensen. The bulk of the original settlers moved in the area here in
1918. At first the purchases were limited to a half section of land, which
proved to be economically too small. The settlers here came from Iowa. The
Lutheran Churches at first were slightly different in form, but have since been
Blackfoot Indian Reserve
The Indian Reserve north of the Bow River embracing more than 87,000 acres of
land extends some 27 miles along the Bow River, an average of 5 miles wide and
is home for some 1,800 Blackfoot Indians. On the reserve some 5 miles southeast
of Cluny is the Site of the Blackfoot Crossing where the Treaty was signed in
1877 and also the grave site of Chief Crowfoot, their notable chief, also a
large Indian cemetery. The Indians now send a lot of their children to the
County schools. Last year 155 were enrolled. The Indian land is exempt from
taxation and the Indians exempt from Income Tax. They do receive baby bonus and
old age pension cheques. Most of the land is arable and some 11,400 acres are
leased to white farmers on shares. A few Indians, however, run their own farms
and have some cattle. Electricity covers a large portion of the reserve and many
have it installed, and some new homes are being built.
A small colony of Japanese farmers settled near Lyalta in township 25-26-W4th
around 1920. They farmed small quarter section farms and several of them grew
vegetables and had markets in the old Calgary market opposite the City Hall.
Family names on the tax roll in the early 1920's were F.H. Kondo, K. Horrie, A.
Makirka, F.A. Kondo, and H.T. Kondo. They all left the land during the 1930's
and only one family, Mr. L. Kondo, remains in the area now.
The County of Wheatland has experienced many changes from 1969 through 1982. One
of the more important happenings occurred with the advent of the building of the
Cominco and C.I.L. Plants in Carseland, which had the effect of transferring the
county from an agricultural tax base to an industrial tax base.
The county now is serviced by 145 miles of paved roads, including the twinning
of Highway No. 1 from the west border of the county to 13 miles east of the Town
of Strathmore. This twinning should be completed in 1983.
The present replacement value of county assets in 1982 indicates a worth of $24
million in buildings, $5 million in contents, heavy equipment at $46 million and
trucks at $1.4 million, for a total of $35 million. This does not include land
or gravel pits, and the county owns or is part owner of Spits with an estimated
deposit of more than 1,000,000 cu. yds.
Current cash position at the end of 1982 was approximately 43% and council as a
matter of policy have retained the debt reduction grant of some years back and
have only used the interest earned for long term benefit purchases such as
gravel pits which were primarily bought to guarantee supply.
A comparison of 1968 items with 1982 reveals that numbers are much larger. Live
assessment including grants in lieu went from $16,426,675 to $52,606,860.
Equalized assessment for school purposes in the county increased from
$23,786,924 to $134,253,450. With increased pressures on development, number of
parcels jumped from 8400 to 8948 and miles of roads increased from 2662 miles to
1970 Council introduced minimum salaries for grader operators during winter
months at $300 per month. The old county office was sold for $1600 and the
new county office was opened on June 15, 1970 at a cost of $300,000.
The school board also opened the new Westmount Elementary School in the fall of
By-Laws were passed on weather modification and snowmobiles. County set up
matching recreation grants to all recreation boards in the county of $1 per
The school board joined the Bow Valley School Authorities Association.
1971 The school board started to close more rural schools, in particular the
Level Land School and Severn Creek School. The board also refused all
liability in school rodeos, approved a tuition agreement with the
Blackfood Nation and experienced a strike of teachers.
On the county side; load limits were set at 59,000 lbs. on local roads,
overweight permits were introduced, service awards for employees commenced,
electors lists were discontinued and County applied for membership in Calgary
Regional Planning Commission.
1972 Of concern early in 1972 was the expansion of hutterite colonies and
deputy reeve attended a meeting with the minister of municipal affairs in
January to discuss the problem. At this time, there were 4 colonies in the
county. In 1982 there were 6 colonies with at least one other in the offing. The
county also campaigned during 1972 for the assessment of all property including
lands and buildings. This was also the year of the Worth Report, the Farran
Report and the Ministers Advisory Committee on School Finance. County purchased
Nagloren Pit -80 acres for $20,000. The county engaged Torchinsky as county
engineers and was involved in approving purchases under the Agriculture Farm
Purchase Credit Act.
The school board built an extension on to the new Westmount School and agreed
with St. Rita's Separate School Board on a joint education format for the
betterment of education in Rockyford.
1973 Council agreed to the upgrading of Hussar seed cleaning plant and approved
funding on a costshare basis. The Sunshine Hutterite School was formed in
July and two rural schools, Level Land and Rosebud were given leases, the former
for a Seventh Day Adventist school and the latter as a community centre.
First steps were being taken to close the Carseland School and a feasibility
study was approved for the installation of water and sewer in Carseland. The
first of its kind in a county hamlet.
1974 This was the beginning of the real tax base in the county. In June,
Cominco approached council fora permit to build a $112,000,000 urea plant and
after public hearings and petitions against the project, council passed the
necessary By-Law on August 12, 1974. The development permit was received and
approved on September 5, 1974. This has been very beneficial to the county and
school board and Cominco has been an excellent corporate taxpayer. C.I.L. were
shortly to follow. Council supported the Strathmore seed cleaning plant and
provided $40,000 for upgrading, a lagoon site for the Carseland proposed water
and sewer project was also purchased.
Of some note, in the school system was the introduction of metrication in county
schools. Mrs. George Pinchbeck became the new superintendent of schools on March
1st. Mr. Frank Burchak who had been the previous superintendent died on February
17th after a lengthy illness.
1975 The county becomes more involved in the intricacies of planning and
development. Discussions in March involved a general plan. First reading of By-
Law 75-12, the development by-law, occurred in June. The County engaged Jack
Kushner as its first development officer.
Hamlet areas were declared in the county. A municipal planning commission was
also established and council were approached to rezone land to permit urban
Some other items of note were the proposed Safari Big Game Park, west of
Strathmore. The go ahead of the Carseland water and sewer project and the
commencement of ambulance service requests. The resignation of Mr. Frank Martin,
the first secretary-treasurer of the county in October.
Federal census indicated a county population of 4,944.
Mrs. Lyda Martin, Strathmore school trustee, died in November after several
years service on the board. Mrs. Phyllis Gray replaced Mrs. Martin as Strathmore
representative on the board.
1976 The new development by-law coupled with the water and sewer project in
Carseland led to outline and subdivision plans being approved on the signing of
a developer's agreement. This was council's first major subdivision development
and extreme caution was exercised. The security was set by council at 100%. Many
problems were to occur in this development and a stop work order was issued on
October 12, 1976 and held until the developer's agreement was signed.
The county purchased a radar set for the local R.C.M.R and also set up its first
communication system with direct radio contact between councillors vehicles,
county shop, work camps and patrol men.
The Strathmore land fill site was closed and a new system of solid waste
management was being discussed.
The school board joined the South Central Alberta Film Federation in May. This
enabled the county schools access to a regional film library. This federation
ultimately came under the direct control of the school board in later years and
is presently housed in the county office building in Strathmore.
The St. Rita's Separate School Board continued to have problems and asked for
consideration of a leasing arrangement between the two boards. The board also
declared Hutterite colonies to be hamlets when the P.T.R. fell below 14. The
board also sold the Level Land School as a school to the Seventh Day Adventist
Church. The assistant secretary-treasurer, John Montgomery, was appointed
secretary-treasurer January 1, 1976 and Mr. Milford Gregory was named reeve in
1977 The year commenced on a very sad note when Mr. Emile Cammaert died on
January 15,1977 after more than 49 years in public life served on councils and
school boards. Mr. Cammaert, who was in failing health served as reeve for many
years and at the time of his death was councillor for DivisionS. One of the
legacies left by Mr. Cammaert was the building of the new county office in
Strathmore which was built in 1970. Cost of the new building was not reflected
in the tax levy.
1978 was a year of new innovation in the county. Council approved implementation
of computer technology in tax roll.
Highway signs changed to metric.
More pressure by Drumheller Health Unit to establish a regional land fill site
and solid waste management association.
County agreed to support ambulance service out of Strathmore at the rate of
$20.00 per call.
Wyndham Park, a facility shared with the County of Vulcan, transferred to
provincial parks and recreation. Peacetime disaster mutual aid signed with
neighbouring municipalities. County asked provincial assessment board about
assessment on pivot irrigation systems. Council was also asked to consider
support for preventive social services.
Fire guardians, pounds and poundkeepers were abolished. Major items affecting
the county at the provincial and federal levels were the abandonment of the
lrricana-Standard rail line, the anti-inflation board and the change over from
propane to natural gas in county schools. Mr. Cammaert was replaced by Mr. Ray
Zachariassen who won the resulting election. Ray unfortunately had to resign due
to failure of health in September of 1981. Mr. Dale Busmann now holds the seat
in Division 5.
Mr. Ed Risdon who had served the county and Division 3 since December 1969 until
October of 1977 was replaced by Mr. Bill Byma. Mr. Risdon who is a machinist by
profession contributed in a very positive way in discussions and decisions made
by council in the areas of machinery and equipment purchases and adaptation.
1979 The impact of the Cominco and C.I.L. taxes made itself felt this year.
Lobbying by recreation boards resulted in a once in a lifetime grant of $100,000
shared between the five recreational boards and funding of preventive social
services study. A new school shop was built in Strathmore and a new county shop
was built in Hussar. The Standard road was also paved 11 miles in total.
Ambulance grant was increased from $20 to $30 per call. A By-Law making a ten
year commitment to the Drumheller Solid Waste Management Association was passed.
The county tax roll was transferred to the I.B.M. data centre in Calgary. Axle
weight loading introduced by the province and the county begins support of the
preventive social services and a director is hired. Municipal planning
commission was confirmed by By-Law.
On a personal note, Councillor L.M. (Mickey) Clark resigned to seek provincial
office in the Conservative Party, a venture that proved very successful for him.
On the school board side, a new position of deputy superintendent of Schools was
created and this led to the engagement of Mr. Garry McKinnon in that position.
The Westmount School, built in 1970, had major alterations in the open area
concept of the school and shortly after they were completed, an arsonist burned
the school causing over $1,000,000 damage.
On a minor note, at this time the county refused to support the town in their
bid for a new hospital.
1980 A fairly quiet year. First draft of Calgary regional plan discussed in
May. County bought, with M.D. of Foothills and County of Vulcan, a new gravel
pit in the County of Vulcan on the south side of the Bow River near Carseland.
Also purchased was the first waste disposal site later to be transferred to the
Department of Environment at cost. Council decreed that the debt reduction grant
recently received, be set up in a funded reserve, and the boat people refugees
from Vietnam were beginning to appear in the community.
The school board became involved in discussions with the provincial government
regarding the establishment of a youth development centre in Strathmore and the
possible supplying of educational services by the board to the centre.
1981 Council approved the installation of the first in-house computer in
January, a Burroughs 80 model. Planning became increasingly difficult, the
county is becoming really concerned about the regulatory nature of the proposed
Calgary Regional Plan and held public hearings before passing the new Land Use
By-Law. Council finally took two fairly serious steps. 1. Going on record by
resolution as being opposed to the Calgary regional plan because of the
diminishing roll of the rurals in the plan and 2. By resolution, asking the
Minister of Municipal Affairs not to accept the regional plan.
On a more positive note the county hosted the East Central Alberta Summer Games
in June and installed a new track for this event at Samuel Crowther's School in
Strathmore. Unfortunately, due to heavy rain the new track could not be used and
races were run on the pavement instead. The county continued to buy land fill
sites and sell them to Department of Environment for use with the Drumheller
Solid Waste Management Association. We also became involved in celebrating the
province's 75th birthday and were introduced to the Marigold Library System.
Council also increased the ambulance grant to $60.00 per call for pick-up in the
Of major note was the retiring of most of the council:
Reeve- Milford Gregory 28 years Division 6
Councillor - Ernie Watson 29 years Division 1
Councillor- Elmer Bolinger 13 years Division 2
Councillor - Bill Byma 3 years Division 3
Councillor - Bill (Buster) Armstrong 11/2 years Division 7
Mr. Armstrong had served some years prior to replacing Mr. L.M. Clark who
resigned on October 17th, 1978.
The new council formed at the organizational meeting was:
Reeve- Reg Thurston l3yearsDivision4
Ray Zachariassen 3 years Division 5
Lorraine Thiessen New Division 3
Larry Graham New Division 2
Eric Knudsen New Division 1
Jim Seeley New Division 7
Arthur Christensen New Division 6
Mr. Knudsen had originally served the county as chairman of the municipal
planning commission, and later, Jim Seeley resigned, and Robert (Bob) Seeley was
elected by acclamation. Council were asked to appoint three members to the new
Wheatland General Hospital Board #107 and this was done on December 16th. The
school board had also new members:
Mr. Julian Fedorak - Strathmore
Mrs. Janet Bolinger- Gleichen
Also serving on the board are:
Mrs. Phyllis Gray- Strathmore
Mr. Lyle Envoldsen - Standard
Mr. Jim Hong - Cluny
Mr. Ab Feradi - Hussar
Mrs. June Pedersen - Rockyford
The board moved final acceptance of the South Central Film Federation into the
county office building in Strathmore and the highlight of the year was the
opening of the new Brentwood Elementary School on October 14th.
1982 Was a much quieter year for the county, although waste disposal was
becoming impossible to control, there being fires and severe vandalism at the
container sites. The urban councils met with the county to seek solutions,
consensus was that the system would not work and alternatives should be sought.
Meanwhile all would try to do the best they could. As a direct result of the
many fires in the containers the county took out memberships in all of the rural
firefighting associations in the county.
At the request of the R.C.M.R and the provincial government the county passed
By-Law 81-11 on June 21st, regulating amusements. Concern of course stemmed from
the damage emanating from rock concerts held throughout the province at an
Council bought a life support system for the Hussar area to be used in
conjuction with the ambulance service.
The St. Rita's School Board was dissolved by ministerial order August 12th,
1981, and all assets and liabilities transferred to the county.
The school board approved the installation of computers in county schools in
October, and signed a contract with the province to supply educational services
to the proposed youth development centre in Strathmore.
Mr. Bill (Buster) Armstrong, Councillor and Trustee until October 1980, died on
1983 The year started with the county becoming a member of the Marigold Library
System, commencing the use of propane in county trucks and purchasing the Thurn
pit in conjunction with the M.D. of Rockyview, in which the pit is situated, for
a total cost of $540,000,00. The Bigelow pit was also purchased for the sum of
$80,000.00. The new Wheatland Hospital Board requisitioned the county for
$342,071.00 and the county population census was determined to be 5,513.
Recreational grant was set at $14.00 per capita. Planning continued to haunt
council and an attempt was made to form a rural planning commission comprising
Wheatland, Rockyview, Kneehill and Foothills. This was vetoed by the minister of
municipal affairs. However, pressures continued to be felt for the creation of
industrial parks in the county.
A feasibility report on Eagle Lake was prepared by Calgary Regional Planning
Commission and the suggestion of an area structure plan was rejected. Council
opted to have a general municipal plan prepared instead and public hearings have
been held in conjunction with this plan. The plan is expected to take the better
part of two years to prepare. Council and school board approved the purchase of
a larger computer, a Burroughs 920, for the county office.
Mr. Charles (Charlie) Madsen, from Standard, a school trustee for many, many
years, died on January 7th, after a long illness. Mr. Madsen, who had resigned
in December of 1981 from the board was replaced by Mr. Lyle Envoldsen also from
1984 Although only partly into this year there are indications that planning
concerns are finally being recognized bythe provincial planning board and the
minister of municipal affairs. The county position in holding the Calgary
regional plan and Calgary Regional Planning Commission to be advisory in nature
and substance is receiving more and more credence. The plan is due for a rewrite
and much credit is due to council for their stand on this very vital document.
The youth development centre is nearing completion and should open this fall or
next spring. Proposed budget indicates that over the years 1969 - 1983 an
increase of four fold is a reality. The county continued to seek better and more
efficient ways of road building and maintenance and continues to seek the help and
cooperation of Alberta Transportation.
In retrospect, the 1970 era marked the most financially rewarding decade in the
history of the area.
With the new elections coming up there is naturally some uncertainty in the
future but with the sound financial position of the county and the hoped for
upturn in the economy the future looks bright for the County of Wheatland No.