History

The Story Of A House

 

The family who homesteaded this land came from Northern Ireland via Boston, Massachusetts. After living in Boston for a period, the family brought their son to the Alberta prairie. For a young man entering the 9th grade, life on a prairie farm required considerable adjustment. He lamented that chores had to replace participating in organized sports and that adapting to a new school environment was challenging, but soon adjusted to his new life and considered it a blessing.

He attended the Olds School of Agriculture and received his Diploma in Agriculture in 1928 and went on to have many productive years farming the family homestead. Some of the changes he saw throughout the years included the building of new churches and schools to accommodate a growing population, changes in farming methods as a result of some hard lessons learned from the Dirty Thirties, along with many technological advances.

After the owners passing, the land and buildings were sold at an auction sale in 1992.

Prairie Gold Task Force

 

A GB model Minneapolis Moline tractor in signature 'Prairie Gold' paint and a Task Force Chevy grain truck sit together in retirement.

The Minneapolis Moline GB was built in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1955 until 1959. Priced at $5000USD the two-wheel drive tractor weighed 7100 pounds. The GB came equipped with a liquid-cooled 6.6 liter four cylinder rated for 71 horsepower at 1300RPM.

Chevrolet and General Motors introduced their all new light trucks – the Task Force series in March of 1955. Borrowing from passenger car styling, the new GM’s smooth sheet metal, hooded headlights and wrap around windshield (an industry first) gave them a contemporary look. Along with the drastic styling changes, 1955 saw many new options introduced for GM trucks. For the first time, power steering, power brakes, a 12 volt electrical system, an overdrive unit, and a 265 cubic inch V8 were available. Buyers still had the option of sticking with the venerable stovebolt six which had been in use since 1929.

1958 saw a redesign of the front end sheet metal; quad headlights were introduced. The first fleetside boxes became available, and factory air conditioning was found in Chevy trucks for the first time. The Task Force body style was manufactured until 1959.

The Big Yellow School Bus

 

Alberta's first one-room schoolhouse was located in Edmonton in 1881. By 1910 there were 1195 one-room schools in Alberta, with the majority located in rural areas. Students traveled to and from school on foot, horseback, or horse-drawn buggy.

In the 1920s, while buggies became motorized, school districts consolidated into larger buildings, forcing students to travel farther to receive an education. In the 1930s students began riding steel bodied early versions of the modern school bus. During a 1939 conference, the first standards were set out to streamline production and increase the safety of school buses. One rule that remains in effect today is the use of 'school bus yellow' because it is easy to see at dawn and dusk and contrasts well with the black lettering.

These days, over 700 million trips are completed in Canada annually, using roughly 36,000 yellow school buses.



Drumheller's Little Church

 

Drumheller's Little Church opened to the public on July 9, 1958.  Reverend Edgar C. O'Brien of the Pentecostal Church came up with the idea.  He wanted the church to be a place of worship and meditation and not just a tourist attraction.  Reverend E.C. O'Brien contracted Robert 'Bob' Gibson to design the church.  Gibson also hand painted the original windows portraying Christ teaching the Apostles.  Tyvge 'Tig' Seland was responsible for constructing the original church with donated materials. 

Throughout the years, the church has been rebuilt/repaired many times.  The most recent rebuild being in 2015 after it sustained vandalism and fire damage in October of 2014.  The sign out front states Drumheller's Little Church – Seating 10,000 People – 6 At A Time.  I'm sure that number has been passed many times over. Drumheller's Little Church has stood the test of time and remains a popular tourist attraction in the Drumheller Valley.        

 

Volkswagen Beetle

 

Ferdinand Porsche, known for developing the world's first gasoline-electric hybrid, designing winning race cars and light, yet powerful airplane engines, first thought of a small car for the everyman in the early 1920s. Porsche saw an opportunity for a people's car in the economic, political, and social changes taking place in the wake of the first World War. The leaders of European auto companies did not agree with Porsche. Cars were for the well-to-do. Workers would take the bus or cycle to work.

Not seeing eye-to-eye with big automakers, in 1931 Porsche founded a consulting firm. In 1934 Porsche won a contract from Adolph Hitler to design a small people's car. This peoples car was to consume no more than seven liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers, have four seats to accommodate the family, be air-cooled to prevent the engine from freezing in cold weather, and be able to maintain a speed of 100 kilometers per hour. Working from his previous designs, Porsche completed his first two prototypes in 1935 and built subsequent iterations, until the final design was realized in 1937.

By the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939, only a handful of consumer cars had been produced, when production switched from civilian to military vehicles. Following the end of the war, the Volkswagen factory was controlled by Allied forces who tried giving it way but could find no takers. The British automakers were uninterested and said: "the vehicle does not meet the fundamental technical requirement of a motor-car.” When Henry Ford II asked his right-hand man Ernest Breech what his thoughts were, Breech said: "What we're being offered here, Mr. Ford, isn't worth a damn!"

Not being able to give away Volkswagen, Major Ivan Hirst was put in charge of getting the bombed out factory up and running again to fill an order for 20,000 VWs for the occupational forces. By January 1948 the factory was producing 2500 cars a month when the British Army appointed Heinz Nordhoff as the General Director of Volkswagen.

Nordhoff took the reins and defying the odds, began steering Volkswagen down the road to success. In 1950, Nordhoff appointed Maximilian Hoffman to introduce the American car buyer to the Volkswagen. Hoffman sold an underwhelming 330 VWs that first year. Sales slowly increased over the years. In 1955 Volkswagen of America was established and the millionth car was produced. Out of the first million, only 9000 had made it to North America. By 1965 one million Beetles per year were being built. In 1972 the 15,007,034th Beetle rolled off the assembly line, matching Ford's Model T worldwide sales record. 1974 saw the last Beetle produced at the original factory in Wolfsburg, Germany.  Production continued in other European facilities, Mexico and Brazil. The final Type 1 VW Beetle was built in Puebla, Mexico on July 30, 2003. The original VW Beetle sold over 21,000,000 units!

With the odds stacked against it, not only did the Volkswagen Beetle prove the need for an affordable reliable people's car but it garnered a cult following along the way.

Bardo, Alberta

 

Norwegian settlers who had been living in the Red River valley near Crookston, Minnesota came to the Bardo area in May 1894.  Many families spent the first winter in dugout shelters while collecting materials to build a proper home.  As many new families came from Norway, the community was growing.  A significant number of these settlers came directly from Bardo, Norway, and that is how Bardo, Alberta took its name.  The first post office operated under the name Northern, from March 1898 until December 1904, when the name was officially changed to Bardo.  The first school was built in 1898 and was also used as the community's place of worship.  In 1908 land was donated, funds were raised, and Bardo's first church was built.  This church was in use until it burned down in 1921.  A second church was constructed, and the first service held on September 3, 1922.  Telephone service came to Bardo in 1910.  The first power line in the area was built in 1928, but it wasn't until the formation of a Rural Electrification Association (R.E.A.) in the early 1950s that electricity became more widely available to the area. 


Construction of the Tofield–Calgary branch of the Grand Trunk Pacific railroad began in 1909, shortly after the mainline from Winnipeg to Edmonton was completed.  Steel was laid to Bardo, the first station south of Tofield, in November of 1909.  The first train traveled from Tofield to Camrose on the 5th of February 1910.  Due to default on repayment of construction loans to the federal government, the GTP was nationalized as the Canadian National Railways in 1920.  By the mid-1930's passenger and freight service going through Bardo began to dwindle.  Freight service continued until 1977-78 to accommodate the grain elevators.  In 1978 the rails between Tofield and Kingman were removed.

As farms increased in size, producing more grain, Bardo realized the need for a grain elevator.  In the early 1920s the Pioneer Grain Company built a 40 000 bushel elevator at Bardo.  Power was supplied by a 10-15 horsepower, one cylinder engine.  These engines were referred to as a one lunger.  In 1929 the elevator was sold to Alberta Wheat Pool who added a 35 000 bushel annex in 1940.  The annex, intended to be temporary was not built on a foundation.  The one lunger was replaced by a four-cylinder continental engine in the 1960s.  The Bardo elevator closed for business on July 31, 1971.  In 1972, the elevator was sold to the Bardo Elevator Co-op who used it for about ten years. 

Today, the current owner, who acquired the property a little over a decade ago, does what he can to prolong the life of the elevator but it is falling into disrepair and needs a roof.  With estimates well into six figures for a new roof and no help from the powers that be, the Bardo grain elevator will continue to deteriorate like so many others.

Kingman, Alberta

 

Francis Kingsbury opened the Kingsbury post office in 1904.  It was located in his home, one and a half miles south of the hamlet of Kingman, where he lived with his father (a widower) and two brothers.  In 1909 the post office was moved into Kingman.  As there was another post office in the province called Kingsbury,  the post office changed its name to Kingman to avoid confusion with mail delivery.  
 
Lots in Kingman went onto the market October 19, 1909, at 10:00 am.  In short time, Kingman had two general stores to serve the new residents.  The first was owned by Taje & Olson Company of Bawlf.  The second, directly across Main Street, was occupied by A. Horte and Sons (later becoming the International Store).  In February 1910 the first passenger train on the Tofield-Calgary branch of the Grand Trunk Pacific railroad stopped at the Kingman railway station.

During its first years, Kingman experienced extensive growth.  The community laid claim to a doctor's office, a real estate office, a dressmaker, a grain buyer, a farm machinery warehouse, and a restaurant, where a full course meal was had for 35¢, or coffee and pie for 10¢.  
 
The construction of a Hogg & Lytle grain elevator began in July of 1916.  The 40,000 bushel elevator was ready for business in August of that year.  In September of 1926, the Home Grain company purchased the elevator, continuing operation until it was acquired by Searle Grain Company in the spring of 1929.  1940 saw an annex added.  Sometime in the early 1970's Searle sold the elevator to the Federal Grain Company, who in turn, sold it to the Alberta Wheat Pool a few years later.  The elevator was dismantled in about 1975.

A United Grain Growers (UGG) elevator, with a 35,000 bushel capacity, was completed and ready to handle grain for the 1922 harvest.  During its first year of operation, the UGG handled 60,000 bushels.  Kingman's UGG elevator was demolished in March 1976.

Kingman's Alberta Wheat Pool grain elevator was built in 1928 with a 40 000 bushel capacity.  Two 15 000 bushel annexes were added in 1941.

By the 1960s things in Kingman began to slow down; businesses closed and people moved away.  In the mid-1960s rail service was discontinued; the tracks removed in 1978.  In the late 60's the train station was relocated to Dodds where it was used as a dwelling. Sadly, it burnt down a few years later.  The International store was the last remaining general store in Kingman, closing its' doors in 1971.

On February 15, 1977, the last grain elevator in Kingman was moved to a private farm.  It took ten days of preparations and loading to ready the 200-ton structure for transport. It was transported with a modified former WWII tank carrier.  The 8 mile move took six and a half hours.

Today Kingman has a school, post office (in the former International store building), museum, community hall, and an outdoor skating rink.  Kingman celebrates its Scandinavian roots with an annual Lutefisk Supper.  The 2017 supper saw a turnout of over 400 people.  

Some noteworthy dates in Kingman's history:
1911- Prospering with a population of 87
1912- Telephone service began
1912- Kingman's first school opened
1913- Pool hall built
1914- A. Horte and sons opened their second store
1917- Yngve Johnson bought the first tractor in the area
1919- In May fire destroyed the post office, telephone exchange, a store, and a building used by Camrose Central Creamery
1922- Garage opened
1922- Small cyclone hit the village damaging some of the buildings
1922- Barbershop opened
1923- April 11, 9:45 pm - fire destroyed the livery stable
1927- Kingman hall built. First dance held in January, 1928.
1928- Cafe built on the site of Horte & Sons store that was destroyed by fire.
1930- Manning -Sutherland Lumber Company sold to Beaver Lumber Company
1932- Progress Lumber Company builds hardware store adjoining the lumberyard
1947- A New school built
1967- Population 100 (approx.)
1988- Kingman School burned down
2006- Population 87
2011- Population 90
2016- Population 103 – and growing

 

Nielsen - Penner Barn

 

The original homesteaders on this land came from Denmark.  The farm was passed down in the Nielsen family from 1903 until they sold to Bob Penner in 1971.  The barn was built in 1914 as part of a mixed farming operation.  From 1914 to the end of 1941 the barn was used for the horses that worked the land.  In later years it was home to dairy cows and hogs.  The barn received power in 1947, a cement floor was poured in 1964 and by 1968 the barn was no longer in use.  It still stands as a testament to the hard work and determination it took to settle the land.