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Mary (Hendry) Lund




Life and Work

“We never made any money but we always had enough”. This simple statement sums up the philosophy of Mary (Hendry) Lund. She was born in Calgary on January 9, 1927 and grew up on a farm in the Eagle Valley district. Although she had two brothers and a sister they were much older than she and had left home while Mary was still a young child so she grew up almost as an only child.

On the farm she learned at a young age to do her share to help with the daily chores. At the age of four she began to milk cows morning and night. She also helped with the many seasonal chores that farm life brings- calving, feeding pigs, filling the woodshed, threshing, planting and gardening. The farm provided almost all of the family’s needs and they had their own milk, cream, beef, pork, chickens, eggs and vegetables. Since there was no refrigeration most of the meat was canned and the vegetables were stored in a root cellar.

Mary attended the one room school at Eagle Valley, a distance of three miles. Up until grade nine she rode horseback but then the horse was raising a foal so she had to walk to school. There, there were single seat desks and inkwells – a cause of much mischief! A pot bellied stove in the corner warmed (barely) the school and the school lunches in their lard pail containers were often frozen.

Although not generally a disruptive child, Mary did receive one strapping at school. It all happened because she forgot her lard pail at school and had to bring her lunch in a paper bag. She set it down outside and Roy Johnson came along and kicked it, causing Mary to say a bad word! Both miscreants received a strapping for their sins.

While taking her grade nine at school, Mary also took agriculture by correspondence and in 1941 she won the prize for the highest points in the Sundre School Fair. She had 167 points. Because she had demonstrated such a keen interest in agriculture she won a short course at the Olds School of Agriculture that July. She won the high point award at the Fair again in 1943. Mary’s interest in the School Fair has remained strong and, for many years, right up to the present time, she and her husband, Louis, have sponsored the fair’s high-point award.

In 1942, she moved to Sundre to board with the Fred Burke family and attend the Eagle Point Senior School. (The name was changed to Sundre High School the following year). Also boarding there were other girls, Marie Gastle Sihlis and Frances Ross Falkenburg. During the summer of 1944 Mary and a couple of friends expanded their horizons with jobs in Banff for the holidays.

In grade twelve, while playing ball, Mary got to know a young man who also liked the game. His name was Louis Lund and he already owned his own sawmill. They developed a friendship that would grow into romance and eventually marriage.

Mary’s heart had been set on becoming a nurse. She had received her Red Cross First Aid certificate in 1942 and her mother gave her a nurse’s watch for her eighteenth birthday. But Mary’s dream was not to come true. Due to illness in her family Mary had to give up the idea of nurse’s training and return home to help on the farm.

In 1945 Mary returned to Sundre to live in the old hotel and work at Aunt Jean Mjolsness’s restaurant there. After her stint at the restaurant Mary was employed for a time by Mr. and Mrs. Ed Knott as a clerk at Knott’s Trading Post. She moved back to live at the Fred Burke’s house and continued to live there for the months preceding her marriage to Louis.

Mary laughs as she remembers Christmas Eve 1945 when Louis took her out to the Siguard Sand home to get a taste of her future husband’s Norwegian heritage. Part of the taste included a dish called lutefisk, fish that has been treated with lye to dissolve all the fiber and give it a jelly like texture. Mary’s reaction to this Norwegian delicacy? “I thought I’d been poisoned!” However she does go on to say that the rest of the Christmas dinner was delicious and the visit from Santa Claus (courtesy of John Snarud) was so convincing she almost believed it was the real Santa Claus.

After Mary and Louis were married on April 17, 1946 the two of them shared accommodation at the Burke’s until they purchased their home on 1st Avenue in 1947. It is in this same house, many improvements later, that Mary and Louis still make their home.

Mary continued to work after her marriage and was employed by Sundre Contractors at Clyde for a time, serving as a cook, bookkeeper, and first aid provider. Later she worked in the company’s office in Sundre.

In 1948 the Lund’s only child, Norman, was born and Mary was kept busy with a new baby in a house with board floors, no electricity, no running water, and laundry facilities consisting of a scrub board.

Still, it was not many years later, in the early 1950’s the Mary became involved, with Louis, in a new venture that would fill their lives for many years to come. They started Lund’s Jewellery. For the first while Louis repaired clocks and watches from home and Mary brought in jewelry on customers’ specific orders.

In 1953 they built a little store on Main Street and business began in earnest. However, at one point they found themselves back working out of their house – with the store’s entire stock piled in the living room – when a fire at the Sundre Café necessitated evacuating the store building.

After this the store was moved to a new location where the bowling alley is now located. Later a new commercial block was built downtown and Lund’s was moved to a larger, more modern facility where the Classic Cakery is now. This would be the permanent home of the store throughout the remaining years of Lund’s ownership. Those years of involvement with the store were demanding but interesting ones for Mary. Lund’s was the place to go for a variety of items in those days when a trip to the city was considered a bigger undertaking than it is now. Lund’s sold fine china, crystal, ornaments, greeting cards, jewelry, watches, clocks and film. Films were sent away for developing, and of course Louis was kept busy with his watch and clock repair jobs.

Brides to be let Mary know what patterns they were collecting and people flocked in to buy shower and wedding gifts. And, of course, the local grooms to be usually selected the engagement ring from the ample stock at Lund’s Jewellery. Mary’s good taste and excellent advice also came in handy when a husband stood before the jewelry counter wondering what to but his wife for some special occasion.

Most of the years of Lund’s Jewellery operation were before the days of credit cards and extending credit was part of running a business at the time. Most customers were very good about paying their debts but Mary admits that there are a few accounts on the books still waiting to be paid.

During all the years of operation Lund’s Jewellery never experienced a break-in or a “stick up”. However, a couple of times, some person “walked off” with an item or two from the window display. On one such occasion, the staff was quite sure of whom the culprit was. The RCMP were called and they dispatched Mary’s long-time employee Josie Bramley and Josie’s mother to go sit in the local bar for a while to see if the thief came in to “fence” his ill-gotten gains. One of Mary’s acquaintances was so amused by the unusual visit of these ladies to the bar that he kept buying copious quantities of beer to be delivered to their table for them. Mary did not state just how much of this refreshment was actually consumed! No transactions were witnessed in the bar but nevertheless the perpetrator was eventually apprehended.

Another tense moment resulted when two wedding rings, purchased, then sent to Calgary to be sized, were lost by the goldsmiths there. Fortunately that company made good the loss with replacement rings and quite some time later actually found the originals.

Once, when needing to purchase an engraving machine, Mary and Louis flew all the way to Toronto to pick it up. This trip provided a little more excitement than they had planned for when, while touring in Ontario by bus, a blizzard left them stranded at a highway truck stop overnight.

In spite of her busy life in the store Mary found time for both hobbies and community service. As far back as elementary school she had been a stamp collector and through this hobby she acquired a pen pal in Australia. Visits have been exchanged between the two continents and the women still correspond regularly. Later, Mary also took up coin collecting, crocheting, and knitting, once knitting curling sweaters for all three members of her family.

Mary has also traveled to England and she and Louis have made many trips around the country, including one up the Alaska Highway, with their trailer. Animal lovers, they generally included their dog, Teddy and cat, Mitzi, in these camping trips. (Mitzi, age 20, was still with Mary and Louis until March of this year).

Throughout her life Mary has been active in many volunteer activities. She is a charter member of the Sundre Royal Purple, having joined at its inception in 1955. She has held the posts of secretary, honored royal lady, and district representative. She has worked with Guides, Brownies, Cubs and Scouts, Minor Hockey and the Cancer Society. She was involved with the Social Credit League and the United Church and curled from the 1950’s until 1972.

Tragedy struck in 1979 when the Lund’s only child, Norman, was killed in a traffic accident. When, a short time later, it became evident that his widow was unable to care for Michael and Laurie, the two youngest grandchildren, (Lisa, the oldest was already married) Louis and Mary rose to the challenge of taking them into their home and starting child rearing all over again

Now the grandchildren have children of their own and these great-grandchildren are much treasured by Louis and Mary.

The jewelry store was sold in 1981 and when asked to reflect on the years she spent as one of Sundre’s pioneer businesswomen, Mary has this to say. “When you own your own business you take all the risks and no one looks after your benefits but there is a lot of satisfaction there too”.

Looking back on Mary’s years as a citizen and business person in Sundre it would seem that hard work and a desire to do her best at all she attempts have had a lot to do with bringing her the satisfaction and contentment she enjoys today.