Harriet (McFarlane) West




Life and Work

Harriet Ann MacFarlane was the daughter of Barbara Orr and Malcolm MacFarlane of Bedeque, Prince Edward Island. She was born in 1852 and died in 1916. She had ten siblings. She was married to John West in her parents’ home by Rev. S. Patterson in 1879. Harriet and John came west in 1892 and settled in Wetaskiwin in the spring of 1893. Harriet first stayed in Edmonton, until living accommodations were ready above the store.

Harriet and John had four children: Georgia, Gerard, Hope, and Sackville. Harriet and John drove a horse and carriage and it was Harriet who took care of the horse. One time while sitting in the carriage, watching a baseball game, the horse was spooked by the cheering and took off racing through town. Luckily, Harriet was rescued and no one was injured. Her rescuer was not revealed; possibly it was her husband, John.

Harriet and her sister, Mary Jane, traveled extensively, visiting their other brothers and sisters in Bedeque, PEI and Colorado, USA. During her daughters’ younger years, they were sent to different schools. Georgia was sent to a finishing school in Toronto, and Hope was sent to a music school in Germany. Later, Georgia married Frank Pike, and Hope married Cam Donaldson. Harriet and John’s sons Gerard and Sackville, along with Hugh Montgomery, took over the Star Store and renamed it Montgomery and West. In 1916, Frank, Hugh’s brother, came to Wetaskiwin from PEI and bought the Wests’ share in the store. The name was again changed to Montgomery Bros. Ltd. Harriet passed away while Sackville and Gerard were on active service in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces. Sackville subsequently died in the war in 1918 and Gerard passed away just after the war.

Having been a resident of Wetaskiwin for twenty-four years, Harriet associated herself with every business and social activity that had contributed to its development. Her husband, John, bought the first lots after survey was completed and engaged in a mercantile business on the property later occupied by the Bank of Commerce, McMurdo’s Gents Furnishings Store and the Imperial Bank. After her husband’s death, Harriet maintained a keen interest in all the community’s activities and her home was always a centre where many gathered to enjoy her large hearted hospitality. She was also a long time member of the Knox Church.