AGS - Bowell, Alberta
Cypress County, Alberta
Wagon Trails and Pioneer Tales
Bowell, Bowmanton, Box Springs, Chappice Lake, Harvest Vale, Lake Valley, Pearson and Vale
Published by Bowell to Bowmanton Historical Society
The Bowell district was once considered to be all lands north and west of Redcliff. Those who were mentioned in the early editions of the Medicine Hat News "Bowell Notes" were settleres who later resided in the school districts of Harvest Vale, Lake Valley and Box Springs. Farming and ranching business, the post office, groceries, homemaking needs and entertainment all centered in the village of Bowell.
Bowman was named after a Mrs. J.A. Whitson (nee Bowman), wife of a local farm in 1913.
In the early days, travellers going through Box Springs, between Medicine Hat and homesteads north to the Red Deer River, used trails known as the Red Deer Trail and the Gordon Trail (for the well-known Gordon Family). The present Box Springs Road pretty well follows the old Gordon Trail.
It's your ordinary spring day as I top the ridge on my trustworthy horse. The sun is rising in the east and a faint breeze can be felt. As I survey my surroundings, I see to the east of me Sam's Lake. It is now dried up, the alkaline bottom showing. It looks as if a dike had one been built down the middle to hold water one way or the other. To the south of me I can see an old homestead home that is till standing, to the west is open range. The grass is short and there is very little water in the sloughs. To the north west is Chappice Lake; I was told that Chappice Lake didn't have a botton in it. It is now split in two parts and the one part is dried up.
The Finn's Lake area covers approximately seventy two sections of land or two townships. The east side is bordered by the Bowmanton road; Ross Creek on the southern side flows into the South Saskatchewan River is the natural border on the west side; and the north border extends from the NW corner of Section 11-14-5-4 to the NE corner of Section 9-14-4-4. The district lies northeast of the City of Medicine Hat.
The area known as Harvest Vale lies north and west of Redcliff between Bowell and Box Springs.
When looking at homestead maps of the Harvest Vale area, we find that a number of land speculations companies, sponsored mainly from the United Kingdom and eastern Canada, held vast amounts of land at the turn of the century.
"Other Neighbors" is a section about that people in an area north and west of the South Saskatchewan River, surrounding the orginal town sites of Redcliff and Medicine Hat.
Most of the area was homesteaded in the early 1900's, but as Redcliff and Medicine Hat expanded, much of the surrounding land use changed from rural agriculture to urban industrial and residential.
Because of its close proximity to the two centres, the area did not have its own school district, schools, or community centres with which to identify. Students attended schools in both Medicine Hat and Redcliff, and most residents developed strong social ties with neighboring rural and urban communities.
The origin of the name of our district, "Lake Valley" has not yet been established. There seems to be no similarity to a "lake" other than what was known as the Johnson slough one half mile west of the original location of the Lake Valley School. This could have been considered to be a small lake during spring snow run-off. "Breezelawn" was apparently named by Harry Johnson after a district of that name at Souris, Manitoba, where the family had come from to this area.
The first records of the Peasonville School were kept in 1914. This school was located one mile south of the Vauxhall (Hays) Road and about eight miles south of Suffield.
As a visitor coming to the Vale community, the residents' names seem to be of German descent. When you start researching the early homesteaders you quickly realize that a very large number of the population in the early 1900's were of Scandinavian or Dutch background. The earliest settlers arrived here in 1902 but homesteaders didn't really start arriving in larger numbers until 1909.