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Resident unearths some history of Strathmore and The Standard

By Monique Massiah, Strathmore Standard

A drawing of a young boy made by an injured soldier who was helped by Winnifred Neville.

A drawing of a young boy made by an injured soldier who was helped by Winnifred Neville.

One day, Strathmore resident Darlene Piche inherited a book. Little did she know she had been passed down a wartime memoire created by the late Strathmore resident Winnifred Neville. For over a 20 year period, Neville was known as the Hay River Nurse, midwife, doctor and dentist.

 

It was reported that she had delivered over 1,000 babies from Hay River near the Northwest Territories.

Eventually Neville retired to Strathmore. Neville worked with the Anglican Mission.

During her time as a nurse in the war, Neville created a visual diary where she collected stories and artwork created by soldiers.

Piche and her family realizing the (human) history the book carried within it’s pages, made a copy of the book, and helped to have to book repatriated to England.

Piche explained that the hospital where Neville worked in England was turned into a hall and then a museum after the war.

“She was a neighbour and very good friend,” said Piche of Neville. She explained that along with Neville’s book her father-in-law also collected books that detailed the local history in Alberta and across the Prairies.

One book, written by John MacKenzie detailed the history of the Town of Strathmore and the creation of the CPR. It also gave a glimpse into the life of his ancestor Jack Mackenzie, the owner and operator of The Strathmore Standard in 1909.

“My father-in-law bought it back in the 1950s,” said Piche.

“He bought actually a lot of different little ones, there was ‘Places in Saskatchewan’ and ‘ Manitoba Murders,’ all just little different stories,” she said.

The book called ‘Prairie Town Tales,’ chronicles the creation of the Town of Strathmore, the CPR and the advertising campaign in the early 1900s which brought people to the area.

It also notes the first newspaper in the area which was the Gleichen Call.

The book speaks to the creation of the railway and the Scottish people who were workers and surveyors laying the track and how the name for the Town of Strathmore was created after a suggestion from one of the surveyors who spoke of the Highlands near his home.

The book explains that the reason many of the surrounding municipalities are named after Scottish locations is because of the many Scots that worked for the CPR as contractors and surveyors.

It also goes into detail of the construction of many small prairie towns like Strathmore, buildings being built out of wood, shops, hotels, post offices and plank sidewalks with hitching posts.

It notes Strathmore spectacular growth from 1907 to 1911.

‘Prairie Town Tales’ chronicles the history of the Strathmore Standard created by Scotsman Jack MacKenzie who had finished a seven year apprenticeship in the printing trade and became a reporter at a daily in Calgary.

He later took a position in Strathmore where the owner of the newspaper, the Gleichen Call was preparing for a new Strathmore newspaper.

He arrived and found that the press was not up and running and within 10 days MacKenzie had the press printing.

The first issue of The Strathmore Standard was on October 22, 1909.