Life and Work
Elsie Morgan was born in Cheshire, England. She first came to Canada with her mother in 1907 to visit her brother, E.B. Grange, who had bought land in the Zeila district. While there, she met John Morgan (whom she later married) and his sister Edith. Elsie and Edith were the first women to ford the Red Deer River, riding their horses sidesaddle, on their way to the 1904 Morgan-Heaton ranch on Williams Creek (present-day Red Deer River Ranches).
Elsie and John were married on April 15, 1909 in the Parish Church at Wimbledon, Surrey in England. They honeymooned on the Isle of Wight before returning to Canada to make their home in a two-room shack on John's 1899 homestead in the Harmattan district. A new house was built in 1910 in which they both lived the rest of their lives. They attended the first Calgary Stampede in September 1912.
Clearing and breaking land, sawing wood, seeding, haying, threshing, milking cows and raising hogs, cattle and horses filled the biggest part of their lives for years. There was time for the Sundre Stampede, church, music, school fairs, concerts, picnics and the odd trip to Calgary or Pine Lake.
Elsie's interests were tennis (a court was built in 1910), music, painting and gardening. She was an accomplished pianist and a trained artist. Family and friends treasure many of her watercolours and oils. She played for concerts in the district and was organist at St. George's Anglican Church at Harmattan for many years. Elsie and John were among the group of early settlers who contributed to the founding and building of St. George's in 1910. She was a life member of the Anglican Church Women's Auxiliary.
One summer day, John was struggling to work with a team of horses in the field west of the house while Elsie was serving tea to the minister. She valiantly kept the conversation going despite the rough language that could be heard through the open west window.
The Morgan's five children were all born at home - Jack in 1911, Geoffrey in 1913, Sybil in 1914, Clarice in 1917 and David in 1924.
On August 7, 1932, a storm that had been building in the west for several hours, getting blacker and blacker, hit at 7:30 p.m. Hail and rain accompanied by lightning and thunder dumped 14 inches of water in two hours at the centre of the storm west of Granges. Elsie and her husband survived the flood of 1932.
Elsie drove their black Packard until she was well into her 80s. She celebrated her 91st birthday at her home, shortly before her death, with family and friends. She was truly a remarkable lady.
Letter of Appreciation by Jack Morgan
This is in appreciation of my dear mother. She loaned me $800 in 1932 to buy my first dual-wheel truck. Another loan in 1938 enabled me to make my first land purchase to take advantage of future opportunities - being in the right place at the right time. I am forever grateful for the start that she gave me.
- Contributor: Irene Morgan