Life and Work
As a young woman, Miss Elsie Redden came to Wetaskiwin for a visit but stayed on to make this her home-town for the rest of her life. She was born in Campbellford, Ontario, July 21st, 1889, to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Redden.
She received her schooling and business education there and came west in 1914 to visit her sister, Mrs. E. T. (Jessie) Williamson, who had four small children. When Mr. Williamson enlisted in 1915, she stayed on to help her sister.
In 1916 she secured employment in the Sheriffs office at the Court House and over the course of the next 39 years she worked for several different Sheriffs. She spent a short period as acting Sheriff and Clerk of the Court and then was assistant Sheriff, assistant Clerk of the Court, law librarian and Registrar of vital statistics. Her duties were performed with great efficiency.
Miss Redden, an alto, joined the Methodist Church choir when she came to Wetaskiwin. After church union in 1925, she was secretary-treasurer of the United Church choir for 40 years. It was a time when the choir was not only expected to make music, but also to make money to buy music and pay the choirmaster. She took an active interest in other church activities and was always available as a pianist.
Because of her position at the Court House, she was often aware of hardships and quietly responded to people's needs. One family told of being in danger of having their furniture seized by the Sheriff for non-payment of rent during the Depression, Miss Redden stepped in and made the payment and the grateful family kept their possessions and dignity.
The Williamson children were a very important part of their Aunt Elsie's life. She experienced great joy in watching them grow up, make their way through school, have their first dates, journey on to various careers and establish homes of their own. Grand-nephews and nieces arrived in due time and were admired and fussed over by a proud great-aunt, who was known to leave candies in the kitchen drawers and little surprises here and there. It's a happy memory for them as they recall their childhood.
Miss Redden died February 13th, 1978.
"We used to be quite famous for our cantatas ... we made our own good times then."
- Elsie Redden
"Working in the court house enabled her to help many people in the municipality, so she was very well thought of. I do remember her going up and down the alley behind Williamson's house to see if all the neighbors were OK. She was a friend to many people there."
- Margaret Williamson, niece
Letter of Appreciation by Margaret P. Williamson
Elsie and the Williamsons were lovely in-laws for me, as those days 200 miles (322 kilometres) was a long way from home. So I was lucky to have them.
Aunt Elsie loved to cook, and to play with our children when we lived in Wetaskiwin. Later on she often visited us in Edmonton and Drayton Valley when the children were more or less grown up.
In the early years she enjoyed being around in our restaurant at lunch times and often later. The business always seemed like a family affair. I have so many happy memories of it.
Aunt Elsie loved church work, sang in the choir and played the organ if the regular organist was away.
Working in the court house enabled her to help many people in the municipality, so she was very well thought of. I do remember her going up and down the alley behind Williamson's house to see if all the neighbours were OK. She was a friend to many people there.
- Research and Writing: Evelyn Blanch
- Contributors: Mrs. Osborne Williamson
- Curator: Harriet Liddle