Muriel Lucy (Mumford) Noble
Life and Work
Muriel Lucy Mumford was born November 6th, 1920, the elder daughter of Agnes and Edgar Mumford, and was raised on a farm eight miles northwest of Olds. The Mumfords had met in England as youngsters when Edgar was visiting the seaside town of Lowestoft in Suffolk, from his home in London. Agnes Potts emigrated with her parents and three sisters to a homestead in the Red Lodge area in 1905. Edgar Mumford came to Canada seeking adventure as a young man and eventually married Agnes in 1919.
Muriel attended the Eagle Creek county school west of Bowden, with 30 other students, where classes were held for grades one through eight. Muriel loved school and rarely missed. Her ambition was to be a teacher, so she practiced on her sister Edna who was six years younger and had her reading at five. When Edna started school at age six, she was put into grade two.
To get to school Muriel rode horseback, and she remembers the time she persuaded her Father to let her ride a certain horse, which was seldom used. Her father finally consented, stressing that she take it very easy, so off Muriel rode. At the end of the day, the children all mounted their horses and soon a race was in progress. Disregarding her father’s advice, Muriel urged her horse on, when suddenly he started bucking. Muriel was thrown off and landed in mud and water. She was completely soaked with mud in her hair and dripping from her face. She picked herself up, as one of the boys pursued her runaway pony. She decided she had enough riding for that day, so walked her horse home. For Grade nine, she attended Red Lodge School where Mrs. Vida Lindner taught Industrial Arts before coming to Sundre.
Mrs. Hans Locken taught Muriel grade 10 by correspondence, and although her parents wanted to send her into town for school, Muriel chose instead to go to work for Mrs. Becker doing housework, which was an education in itself.
Men constantly “rode the rails” in search of employment or to do odd jobs in return for a meal. At Mrs. Becker’s home, no one was turned away. When the freight train pulled into town and men came knocking at the door, Mrs. Becker would direct them to the woodpile beside the house. “You split some wood, and I’ll make you a sandwich.” There was a lot for Muriel to do. Generally there were boarders for every meal and rooms to be kept clean. Muriel was given wages of $12.00 a month, with room and board. After leaving Becker’s, she went to work for Maybank’s Drugstore in Olds.
In 1942, after five years of courting, she married Roy Noble. They had known each other since they were teenagers. They settled down on a farm that Roy had rented in the Berrydale area west of Bowden. Eventually, Roy and Muriel bought a ½ section west of Bowden. During these five years they had Garry (1943) Karen (1946) and Jim (1947). On the farm they were discouraged by so much frost and hail that when an eager buyer made an offer, they sold and moved to Innisfail. Roy bought and operated a planer for five years. During this stint in Innisfail, Muriel’s younger sister, Edna (who was expecting a baby) contracted Polio and was taken to Edmonton. When Edna’s son was born he was brought to Innisfail to live with the Noble family for a year until Edna was released from hospital.
In 1955 they moved to Sundre and bought a house next door to Fred & Kay Mitchell who were great neighbors and remained friends throughout their lives. In 1957 Roy & Muriel’s daughter Sandra was born.
In the fifties there were no sidewalks in Sundre and Muriel always made a habit of walking down the middle of the street where the footing was good. One of her very earliest memories is of meeting Russ Greenwood, riding a horse with a coyote perched firmly on its withers! Muriel’s gaze was riveted on this strange site and she thought this really is “the wild west.”
In the sixties Muriel was asked by the Returning Officer, Lorraine Coutts, to become her Poll Clerk, to serve at town elections. Over the years Muriel became well known to all the town residents and eventually took over the job as Returning Officer for all Federal and Provincial elections. Muriel also did the entire census for the Town of Sundre for many years.
In 1967, Muriel was hired as Swimming Pool manager for the new Centennial Pool for the Town of Sundre. She held this position for 15 years and really enjoyed all the children that came to swim. One day, two little boys approached her at the wicket and wanted her to remove a fish hook that was embedded deep in one of their scalps. She quickly phoned the child’s mother, who took him to hospital where it was removed. Muriel was so thankful it wasn’t in his eye or face.
Muriel also offered her home to boarders. One man named Bob Eror, who Roy offered an overnight stay, remained for twelve years.
Roy was very active in the Foothills Cowboy Association and the Calgary Stampede where he competed in the chuckwagon races with his own team. Muriel was always off to a rodeo somewhere. She enjoyed the other cowboy’s wives company and the events in which her husband competed. Weekends, the cowboys practiced and there were many picnics for the families in which to participate. It seemed most holidays in the early years were spent at rodeos in Central Alberta.
Muriel also operated the Sundre Skating Arena concession for three years, which was a very demanding job with many hours ordering and working.
In 1955 she joined the United Church Women and has remained with them for 57 years. She served as Secretary, Treasurer and President and worked very hard for them at all their teas, funerals and other events. Muriel has also belonged to the Royal Purple in Sundre and served many positions, including Drill Team, Governor of the Catering Committee, Sunshine Committee and Honored Royal Lady. She also was involved with the Boy Scouts and served for one term on the Sundre Municipal Library Board. Muriel was also a member of the Seniors Craft Group.
Muriel has made many friends and enjoys each and every one of them. Her other hobbies include knitting, embroidery and making preserves, which she still does at 91. Her kitchen is always abuzz and she loves cooking.
In 1981 Muriel experienced a highlight of her life. Her sister and Brother-in-law, Mel and Edna Richards, invited Muriel and Roy on a trip to England. Roy didn’t like “his feet off the ground” but he encouraged Muriel to go anyway. Mel was wonderful to the “Mumford sisters” and they visited all their relatives and the homes where their parents had lived, which were still occupied. They also went to the Anglican Church where their maternal grandparents had been married and their mother Agnes was christened.
Muriel and Roy celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at the Sundre West Country Centre in January, 1992 with 250 people in attendance. All their family, including Roy’s mother who was 99, attended. Roy and Muriel travelled quite a lot, including across Canada and various times to the States to different locations with friends or family. Roy passed away in 1993 after a severe stroke and Muriel lost her son Jim to cancer in May of 2012.
Throughout her life, Muriel has been the kind of citizen that every community needs. Without seeking praise or acclaim, she sees things that need to be done, and she does her part. At the age of 91& ½ years old, Muriel still lives in her own home. She has ten grandchildren and twenty four great grandchildren, and still remembers all their birthdays and anniversaries. Muriel always gives gifts to all of them for every occasion, and that includes Christmas. The total, with spouses, equals 52 people and none are forgotten.
In her quiet and unassuming way, she remains a pillar of strength for her family and her community.