Settlement

Clover Bar in the Making, 1881-1931 (638.4 KB)

With law, order and the promise of a railway, settlers began to arrive. Homesteaders first settled along the good black soil closest to the river. The Clover Bar Colonization Company (Edmonton and Saskatchewan Land Company) took land and built a store, boarding house and large storage barn in 1883.

Two years prior to this, several settlers had arrived and set up land claims in the same area. Their arrival followed a three-month walk from Winnipeg to Edmonton.

One of these early pioneers was R.P. Ottewell, who chose some of the finest agricultural land in Clover Bar district. The following year his small plot of oats produced more than 100 bushels to the acre. With news of such a yield, the Clover Bar area was one of the first areas south of the North Saskatchewan to be settled.

In April 1892, Thomas Pearce of Parry Sound, Ontario, arrived in South Edmonton with the first 300 settlers to settle in the Agricola, Partridge Hill and Good Hope districts. Mr. Pearce also farmed some of the fine black loam near the North Saskatchewan River. In the process of moving settlers from Eastern Canada out to the Edmonton area, Mr. Pearce wrote reports for the CPR. It was in one of these that the term Sunny Alberta was first used.

Meanwhile on May 2, 1891, fifty-three families - 250 people in total - arrived by wagon train in Edmonton from Red Deer. They were German speaking immigrants from Galecia and Poland. They settled in Josephburg and the surrounding areas. Names like Becker, Krebs, Mohr, Gauf, Berg and Hennig were added to our list of Strathcona County pioneers - many with unique skills so necessary in a newly formed community.

South, in the Colchester and Ellerslie districts, a group of Moravian Church followers seeking religious liberty in Canada arrived in 1894. In 1895 they established the Bruderfeld Church and more people from Europe were to follow.They were excellent pioneer farmers, many of whom in later years helped to make this district into Alberta's dairy belt. Names such as Seutter, Hoppe, Graunke, Schultz, Schmidt, Kittlitz, Harke, Diewart, Neuman and Dreger were among them. These pioneers were preceded by Leander Fulton, and members of his family, who took homesteads in the 1880s, adding places names like Fultonvale and Fulton Creek to the region.

In 1894, Mr. Charles Hill arrived in South Edmonton. While his wife and two daughters ran a bakery and confectionery store on Whyte Avenue, he established a homestead just east of the Colchester School. The log house he built still stands.

As the end of the 19th century was approaching, areas east of the Clover Bar settlement were rapidly filling up with settlers. Bremner, Baker and what was to become the Ardrossan districts were settled with families like Thomlinson (1888) from Yorkshire, England; the Wardrop family from Scotland (1901); the Hanlan family (1899) from Ontario; Martin Reynolds Sr. (1899) from Ohio; the George Lackey family (1898); Hamilton Lackey Sr. (1899); the Clyde Parker family (1898); the Storms (1900) all from Nebraska; and the William Garbe family from Ontario (1900).

In the East Edmonton district during the early 1880s families such as Fulton, Inkster, Caverhill, Hursell and Beale had settled. By the turn of the 20th century, they were joined by the Shephard, Myler, Warner, Gratrix and Thomas Briggs families.

The Salisbury and Hillsdale districts attracted homesteaders in the 1890s including John Ball (1890), and later his brothers George, Everett, Sam and William R., the last three taking land in the Wye and Hillsdale district. The first registered homesteaders in this area were William McCallister and Maurice Smeltzer in 1892.

The homesteaders of Strathcona County showed great diversity. Ethnically, they comprised many groups whose origins derived from the British Isles. The Ottewell and Crosswhite families from England, the Boag and Bremner families from Scotland, while the Daly and Morrow families arrived from Ireland.

People arrived from the Scandinavian countries - families such as Fried and Hansen. Also, the French Canadians migrated west to the Fort Saskatchewan and Hastings Lake districts, Germanic immigrants settled in the Josephburg and Ellerslie-Colchester areas, while the Ukrainian families populated the Whitemud region, and northeast of Fort Saskatchewan.

Many brought farming and trade skills, including blacksmithing, carpentry and steam engineering. Some were illiterate, and others highly educated - such as Dr. Tofield who took a homestead in the Agricola district.

In 1911 Dr. Tofield's quarter section was purchased by Lord and Lady Botsfield, along with three other quarters. They built a large English-style country house and brought their own blacksmith with them.

Many arrived penniless, others comfortable or wealthy. A German count farmed in the Ellerslie District as did James Brennan, who lived in a large home with servants, and kept a barnyard full of prize livestock.

In 1906 Sandy Mann, brother of Great Northern Railway building partnership of MacKenzie and Mann, purchased the first of what was to become a 4,800 acre farm in the Scotford district of Strathcona County. Sandy had made his money in railway construction, building mountain tunnels and even making the successful tunnel that blew up Ripple Rock between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. The Scotford farm became the biggest employer in the Fort Saskatchewan district, employing up to thirty men for the land and livestock operations.

On the other end of the social scale was George Card, the Hermit of Good Hope, a wizened old man with a long white beard who dug a twenty foot by ten foot trench into a hillside, in the vicinity of the west boundary of Elk Island Park. The trench was roofed with logs, grass and clay. A door, small window and boards covered the front, making a cozy home. Mr. Card was completely illiterate and made his living by taking regular ten mile trips over the winding trails to Bruderheim, picking up pioneer essentials in the stores, and reselling them from the back of his horse-drawn caravan, in the Good Hope district.

Last updated: Friday, December 01, 2017
Page ID: 40159