ArticlesFeatured Articles The Aspenland Journal was first published in 1998 by the Central Alberta Regional Museums Network, with the assistance of the Provincial Museum of Alberta and the Red Deer and District Museum.
The Aspenland series aims to present new knowledge on the cultural and social history of central Alberta. Aspenland I (1998) featured thematic essays on education at denominational colleges that are currently or were historically present in central Alberta.
Aspenland II: On Women's Lives and Work in Central Alberta (2003) presents articles related to the lives and work of women in the region. The collection brings together writing on diverse topics from rodeo to religious orders and from oilfields to the arts.
Aspenland 1998 — Local Knowledge and Sense of PlaceAspenland 1998 — Local Knowledge and Sense of PlaceEdited by: David J. Goa and David Ridley
Published by: The Central Alberta Regional Museums Network (CARMN) with the assistance of the Provincial Museum of Alberta and the Red Deer and District Museum.
The nephew of Armand Trochu, Jacques Bence received a letter from Lorene Anne Frere as she retraced the lives of the men and woman from France who established Sainte Anne’s Ranch and the community of Trochu. In this address given on July 26th, 1995 by Monsieur Bence on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the founding of Trochu, he brings a family perspective to the life of Trochu and the relationship between a small prairie settlement and the young French aristocrats from Brittany.
The Aspen Parkland is a transition zone between grassland and boreal forest. W. Bruce McGillivray provides a defining article on the natural history of the region. Notably, the Aspen Parkland has always been a place of competing interests, whether between grass and trees, or various human used of the zone.
The union of Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches in 1925 to form the United Church of Canada resulted in vigorous debate. Walter Brown was a forceful voice opposing the union of the churches, fearing that this would only result in an ‘ecclesiastical machine’ rather than develop ‘national righteousness.’ Ernest Nix’s study of Brown and the debate provides a historical perspective on the politics of Christian unity.
In the first part of the 20th century, Alberta public schools recognized their obligation to help shape good character in their students. Public schools concentrated on the language of secular virtue to avoid language and issues that might provoke sectarian conflict. In this essay, Amy von Heyking looks at what students were taught about citizenship and the nature of society and how these ‘secular virtues’ changed over the space of forty years and through the course of two world wars. This focus provides insight into the nature of Alberta society itself and how it has responded to the challenges of the modern world.
While the idea of community service can seem vague, Irene Wright of Rimbey was literally the town secretary and much more in her involvement with community organizations. Rimbey writer and columnist Fred Schutz provides a personal reflection on the life and times of Irene Wright, Rimbey’s confidante.
John Roy Bowett is connected to Canadian University College as a student, a teacher and historian. In this personal history of a devoted teacher at the College, Heather Till reflects on Bowett’s life as an embodiment of the ideals of Adventist education.
Hazel Flewwelling’s childhood visits to the Ponoka Library opened up worlds of adventure that would have otherwise escaped her. As a teacher and library trustee advocate, Hazel recounts the community campaign to create an exciting children’s library in Red Deer in the historic armoury and fire hall.
Hilda Buckman Crook was a woman of English ancestry whose passions for art, writing and natural history made her a tour de force and memorable character. In this personal essay, Morris Flewwelling reflects on her life and interests and how those passions have touched his life.
The history of Jewish settlement on the prairies is the story of not only persecution in Europe, but also of the challenges of diversity among Canadian Jews in the late 19th century. The attempted settlement near Pine Lake, southeast of Red Deer, reflects the challenges of new settlement in a strange land. A.J. Armstrong details the rural chapter of Jewish settlement in Alberta.
Situated east of Hoadley, Alberta, Liberty Hall is one of the hundreds of community halls that were venues for community politics in the first half of the 20th century. While the term ‘radical’ evokes fanaticism, radical politics were and continue to be a common and accepted aspect of Alberta’s political ethos. Robin Hunter reflects on the political life and times of rural Alberta through the Liberty Hall and its connection to movements such as the United Farmers of Alberta and Social Credit.
Robert Thompson grew up around Innisfail, Alberta and was elected Social Credit Member of Parliament for Red Deer in 1962. In 1968, Thompson’s candidacy for the Progressive Conservative nomination in Red Deer was part of Ernest Manning’s attempt to create a united conservative political party in Canada. In this article, Geoffrey Olson describes the local drama of this and provides valuable historical context for the attempts to ‘Unite the Right’ to the present.
The Maxwell Memorial Tabernacle at Three Hills is more than an important meeting place for those affiliated with Prairie Bible Institute. From its construction to the present, it is a symbol of the history, work and understanding of a religious movement.
The establishment of educational institutions in central Alberta is closely linked to church and religious organizations. Michael Dawe, Red Deer archivist and historian provides an overview of the records on these organizations held at the Red Deer and District Archives
While the North-West Mounted Police were the presence of the law in the founding of Red Deer, the early founders and families played a crucial role in defining the meaning of law and order in the years before 1920. Jonathan Swainger looks at the people, circumstances and motivations that shaped law and order in one prairie community. The connection between early founders with legal position in Red Deer and the building of the community are closely linked.
From 1893 to 1919, the Red Deer Industrial School was one of many schools funded by Canada’s federal government and managed by religious denominations. The first principal of the School, Reverend John Nelson of the Methodist Church of Canada, was tasked with providing an institution for Aboriginal children where the work of ‘Christianizing, Civilizing and Canadianizing’ would take place, resulting in assimilation into the larger society. Ute Fox describes the challenges faced by Nelson, from insufficient funding to the Methodist Church’s declining interest in missions to Aboriginal peoples.
In 1950, Gerald Hutchinson was a young clergyman who had arrived on the north shore of Pigeon Lake and asked why ‘Mission Beach’ was so named. The question began the ‘merry chase’ that has resulted in a picture of the early Methodist missionaries, such as Robert Terrill Rundle, and the legacy of the mission era in the region.
Helen Hunley was the first woman to be appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. Active in Alberta municipal and provincial politics, she was also the first woman to be given full ministerial status in the Alberta government. In this article Helen Hunley reflects on her vocation to community and political life connected to her childhood near Rocky Mountain House.
Canadian University College was established in 1907 near Lacombe, Alberta, by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Deane Nelson describes the importance and understanding of ‘healthful living’ in the school’s curriculum. The Adventist concern for health and the holistic nature of human is connected to the denominations work in health and health reform.
Vonin is the Icelandic word for ‘hope.’ The Vonin Ladies Aid Society was founded in 1891 by women of Icelandic ancestry who had arrived in Alberta and were destined to settle near Markerville. The work and concern of Vonin Ladies Aid Society shows the intimate connection between language, culture, religious life and community service. Dorothy Murray describes the work of the Society in historical perspective.
While religious communities are viewed by some as being preoccupied with ‘otherworldly’ concerns, these communities are more likely to show concern for the demands of everyday living. Founded in 1907, Canadian University College has involved students in work and manual training as well as a formation within the denomination’s religious ideals. David Ridley looks at the history of this labour training and how it is connected to the religious understanding of Seventh-day Adventists, through the writing of Ellen White, the 19th century American co-founder of denomination.
One of the contributions of the more than 3,000 local histories published to date in Alberta is in documenting the lives of women, in terms of community activities, organizations and day-to-day life. Nanci Langford looks at how these histories also distort the diverse realities of women’s lives and often obscure the presence and participation of women in community life.
The rural community hall may evoke images of dances and potluck dinners, but more importantly, such structures were meeting places for the radical-democratic and agrarian populist politics in rural Alberta. Roger Epp looks at the decline of this political practice since the 1920s and the health and vitality of political activity in rural Alberta to present.
Known as the ‘Lady Guide of the Foothills’ Myrtle Raivio worked as a guide and outfitter for fifty years. While her ability to organize camps and guide hunters and back country travelers was renown in a male-dominated field, Annette Gray reflects on the gentle and feminine presence of Myrtle in the roughness of outdoor life.
Religious organizations are often regarded as being restrictive for women, Ruth Dearing’s work and life at Prairie Bible Institute run contrary to this notion. In this article by James Enns, Ruth Dearing’s work as teacher, preacher, professor and administrator and her affiliation with L.E. Maxwell, the founder of Prairie Bible Institute, reflects both the discipline and freedom co-existing within religious life.