Charlotte (Coffey) Gould
Life and Work
Charlotte Coffey was born in Belfast, Ireland, March 17, 1853 of middle income parents. Her father, James Coffey, was a harness maker and leather goods manufacturer. With Ireland being in financial ruin at the time, James Coffey and family moved to Ontario, near Barrie in 1870. Here he started a leather goods store and repair shop and resided there for about 25 years. It was here that Charlotte received her education.
At approximately 18 years of age, she met a young livestock dealer by the name of Noah Gould. Noah sweet talked her into marriage and during their time in Ontario two children, James and Margaret, were born.
With hopes of finding new land, they later moved to North Dakota. Here they settled with a group of pioneers northwest of Grand Forks. Five quarters of land were available but lack of moisture in the area made it hard to raise cattle. While living in North Dakota two daughters and one son were born, Mae, Lottie and William. Noah and Charlotte then decided to look for a better area. With little income from the poor farm, Noah, Charlotte and their five children set out to look for greener pastures.
Searching far and wide, the family finally found open ground, rich in soil and freedom, north of Calgary, in Wetaskiwin. They arrived in the Wetaskiwin area on October 22, 1892, with all their livestock and chattels. Heavy snow greeted their arrival but the livestock - horses, cattle and chickens - needed to be unloaded from the rail cars. Rough corrals had been built to hold the settlers effects and livestock. These corrals were situated where the Wetaskiwin Co-op Store is today. A tent was used for Charlotte's chickens. This tent was then banked with hay and snow to keep the chickens warm. To their delight the chickens were content enough to lay some eggs. Hay had been put up for the Goulds in the Angus Ridge area in the summer of 1892, so the Goulds hooked up sleighs and hauled loads to the corrals for the livestock.
Charlotte cooked and cared for the family and friends for several weeks in the Angus Ridge area, while a shelter was being built for the livestock. Then, in the winter of 1892-1893, Charlotte took on the book work for the John West store. During this time she also kept Noah's enterprises in order. When spring arrived, Noah and Charlotte decided to build their own store. This store contained everything one could ever need, from a bakery, harness, machine and liquor shop to an ice-cream parlour. Above the ice cream parlour for entertainment was a dance hall. In later years, this was known as the Gould Block, on Main Street in Wetaskiwin.
Charlotte was the monetary head of the family and helped Noah in all his endeavours. She looked after the books and ran the business with the help of the family. With an iron thumb, Charlotte kept the money in the proper channels. Noah continued his livestock business and farming, so, with the background of Charlotte's bookkeeping the whole family thrived.
Charlotte passed away in October 1914 and her husband, Noah, passed away in December of the same year.
- Research and Writing: Roma Simonson, Janis Ruitenbeck
- Contributors: Dawne and Marion Gilchrist and Gordon and Beryl Ballhorn
- Curator: Janis Ruitenbeck