An on-going project of the Chestermere Historical Foundation is to interview people who have lived in the Chestermere Area or used the lake for recreation. CHF wants to preserve their stories through interviews, recordings and video. If you know someone who has been in the area a long time and could add to this interesting history, please contact us. For stories about FISH that did not make the history book go here.
The George and Del Hampton Story – “Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle, To Keep Your Balance You Have To Keep Moving.”
After WWII where George Hampton served on a frigate he worked as an undertaker for a time at the Little Chapel on the Corner in Calgary, often ‘frightening’ his mom by parking the ‘loaded’ hearse in the driveway at lunchtime. He married Del Schram in 1948 and was employed by her father Lloyd Schram, building and working at a service station in Exshaw on the 1A highway. Moving back to Calgary in 1950 George built their house in Parkdale finishing his working career as a driver for Calgary Transit. In 1956, invited by Art McMann (friend of a friend), George and Del came out to have a look at the lake. They fell in love and bought Lot #158 SE complete with a one room ‘shack.’ No boat? No worries. George built a 12′ boat from a pattern in Popular Mechanics in the basement of their Parkdale home in Calgary, and when it was finished, took out the stair case and the landing to get it out of the house. Good thing he is an expert carpenter. The 1960 photo shows Del and George in their new boat with a 35 HP Evinrude and the ‘shack’ in the background. George recalls that two doors north, Shaws had a big 6 cylinder Evinrude on their boat. One day they decided to take out 8 skiers. George says he was the last one up and that rope was really moving — he nearly flew out of his skis! For daughters Bonnie and Sharon, he built a sail board using his own plan (who knew how far ahead of his time George would be!). Later he constructed two sailboats from, guess where, Popular Mechanics. In 1977 they tore down the ‘shack,’ saving the wood for George to build their first house. Del and George decided to move to Chestermere permanently in 1981, but the house was a bit small. York Shaw lifted the house onto blocks and George added a lower floor. They lived in the upper part for three months until the lower area was framed in. George recalls that it would often sway and there were waves in the toilet! Many of you recall seeing Del and George on their bikes or walking hand in hand to get the mail, smiling and enjoying each other and the joy of living out here at Chestermere Lake. The Hamptons were good friends of Sally and Joe Wilton who also lived on East Chestermere Drive. Though Del and Joe have passed on, Sally and George have remained friends. Sally was a Gr 1 classmate of George’s at Colonel Walker School. If a tall, handsome, grey haired gentleman gives you a wave and a smile as you drive down East Chestermere Drive, good chance it is George. He might be driving, walking, biking or on his motor scooter. You can also find him out with his drone – there is not much of interest that gets past George. One friend gave him a plaque saying ” Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you have to keep moving.” That’s George. Here’s to many more years of being a great citizen of Chestermere!
George and Del in their boat. Their cabin is in the background – circa 1960
George and Del’s story as told to Jen Peddlesden by George Hampton November 2015
The Story of Ralph and Doreen Ford’s House 579 East Chestermere Drive- as told to CHF by Gord Peariso, neighbour and friend of the Fords.
In 1966, according to Growing Through Time, page 107, Ralph and Doreen Ford and their three children, Murray, Jan and Nancy, decided they needed a cabin on their Chestermere lot. At that time, the address was 291 East Chestermere Drive. In Calgary in 1967 there were houses for sale at a good price (Gord recalls they paid $1000) up in northwest Calgary along the route that would become Crowchild Trail. In May of that year, Ralph bought one and engaged York Shaw Movers (the Shaw family were very involved in the early days at Chestermere Lake) to move the house. The roof was removed due to height restrictions during the move, and Ralph and Doreen only needed the top half of the house anyway, so it was cut in half horizontally with top floor arriving, then the roof. The roof was attached once the house was moved onto the lake lot. They had only bedrooms to work with, as the kitchen on the ground floor had been left behind. The first photo is the house as it looked in its original Calgary location. You can see a young man near a Dodge DeSoto car. According to Nancy Ford, that young man ended up meeting and dating her sister Jan.
Thanks to Kay Lowney, a long time cabin owner at Chestermere, many articles and information on the Calgary Yacht Club were preserved. One of these was an article in the Calgary Herald in 1969 reporting that Nancy Ford was the newly elected Secretary and Ralph Ford was the Staff Captain. Other items in Kay’s album indicate that the Fords were active in the CYC for many years.
Only recently has this cabin been torn down. Gord and Marilyn Peariso owned it for many years after the Fords and the lot is the home of Andrew Marriott, owner of the Chestermere Tim Horton’s, who recently completed a new house on that property which is now 580 East Chestermere Drive. Thanks to Gord Peariso for photos and story. July 2017
Buses and Horses – School Bus Stories from Len Baldwin Senior.
Rockland School Horse Barn ( as told to Jennifer Peddlesden by Len Baldwin Jr. Aug 2003)
Len Baldwin Jr recalls clearly remembering when he was a youngster helping his Dad Archie Baldwin and Uncle Len ( Len Baldwin Sr) move the horse barn from Rockland School. They hauled it at night, on a skid behind on of his Dad, Archie’s gravel trucks. The horse barn was taken to the farm property owned by Len Baldwin Sr., now on the SE corner of East Chestemrere Drive and Merganser Drive East. In its former life, this barn would shelter the horses used by the children attending Rockland School . Later, on Len’s property, it became the bus barn for the school buses that Len drove over the years. One can still see the little barn as the largest of the outbuildings on the property at 538 East Chestermere Drive, just south past the four way stop.
- Len Baldwin Sr. took the little barn shed and added a second side to it. The red/white iconic doors are still visible in the left side of the photo, the right side in the photo was added after the move. [JP]
Len Baldwin Jr also recalls two stories about Uncle Len and horses. First, Uncle Len had to transport a Shetland pony. He decided the easiest way was to load it into the school bus for transport! And that was not the only thing that connected his bus to a horse—Len was travelling east of Chestermere in the bus and came across a dead horse on the road. He immediately tied it behind the bus, dragged it home and as it was winter and the horse was frozen, cut it up to use for dog meat.
The Hodgson Farm Story
Memoir of a Chestermere Farm – by Joyce Hodgson (nee Gowdy), Chestermere, August 2018
‘When you drive on Chestermere Boulevard towards Calgary, just at the city limits, something about the farm to the south seems different. A closer look reveals that beautiful tall trees on the property have been cut down!
This is the site of the former Hodgson Farm and here is a brief history of that farm.
This farm was developed by Frances and Jack Hodgson. They married in 1923. Their tall two story home was moved from Victoria Square, a failed development east of Calgary. In 1924, the big dairy barn was built from materials obtained from the jam factory, also from Victoria Square.
The Hodgsons also began a tree planting program that included caragana hedges, poplars, lilacs, a few evergreens and three special crab apple trees, which were France’s pride and joy. She also had a large vegetable garden. She loved to cook and entertain. The Hodgson family was very social and community orientated. Many meetings were held at their home in support of community endeavors. They raised two children on the farm, Everett and Marilyn, who attended Janet and Rock Land schools. Jack died at the early age of 60. Farmers in the community came to the farm with their machinery and took off the crop for the Hodgsons that fall. Frances and Everett carried on with the farming, with Everett restarting the dairy.
Everett and I married in 1954, and I moved to the farm that would be my home for the next 54 years. We moved into a little house on the west side of the yard and raised our four children; Debra, Larry, Randy, and Michael.
We continued the tree planting program, which included a white lilac, honey suckle, mountain ash, evergreens, and a maple tree from my father’s farm. I used to go to the one hundred year old orchard at Strathmore, where I picked apples, saved their seeds, and started seedlings. Many of these grew well and were a welcome addition to our forest of trees.
We participated in community events, which include Conrich home and school, cubs and scouts, F.W.U.A., turkey dinners, etc. Everett drove a school bus to Conrich for many years. There were also local controversies to ponder and discuss. For example, the proposal to build a jail and a power plant near Chestermere. Those of us who lived along highway 1A tried to tap into the water line from Calgary that ran by our door steps. We were turned down. I tasted Calgary water for the first time, when I moved into Chestermere in 2008.
There was the intrusion of a gas well on the farm in 1967. It included gas, pipe, and utility lines, as well as a water line to the cemetery. In later years Chestermere pondered annexation to Calgary.
In 1956, Frances became the dietician at the Agricultural School in Olds, Alberta. She taught for several years, but when her health failed, she moved into Calgary. She died in 1968.
In 1972, the Department of Highways decided to widen Highway 1A, only on the south side of the road. We lost a strip of land along our property, from the home site to the land at the lake. We were obliged to move many of the trees we had planted on the north side of the property, including the three special apple trees of Frances Hodgson. There was a lot of hauling water to sustain the trees and most survived. Also, one condition of the Department of Highways, was that Frances Hodgson’s home had to be moved or demolished.
We built a new house and our little house was moved to an acreage east of Chestermere. More trees were planted around the new house and extensive flower beds. Everett and I parted in 1976 and he moved into Calgary. We continued to farm together for many years, but finally divorced. A quarter section of land had been sold and two hundred acres at the lake, which is now Lakeside Green Golf Course. I was left with the home place, where my children and I continued to live.
Randy started a business on the farm, “Smokey Farm Meats”. He built a home for his family which includes his wife Tracey and children, Tamara and Tristian.
These were busy years managing the farm, taking care of the buildings and farm site, as well as attending to community activities. By 2007, I realized it was becoming too much. Hauling tons of water to the trees began to take its toll. I decided, with some misgivings, to sell the land and moved into Chestermere in 2008. My house was moved to north of Strathmore and Randy’s house to the south of Strathmore.
The farm sat idle for many years. Wildlife moved in, an eagle, an owl, pigeons, robins and other various wild animals. It was sad to see the place deteriorate, but it was out of my hands.
Finally in May 2018, I heard something has happened. To my dismay, I learned that all the big tall trees on the farm had been cut down!
A visit to the farm confirmed it. Everything was cut down with a Chain saw, including Frances Hodgson’s three special apple trees and the beautiful evergreens at Randy’s place. All those years watering, nurturing, and planting was destroyed in one day. So sad!
Soon, everything will be bull-dozed away and no one will ever know that a special farm site once stood there. However, those of us who lived there will remember it and some of the old timers will remember when it was in its prime. They will remember they gave directions to their farms by saying “Turn at Hodgson Corner.”
My hope is the new development that is built on this property will be a credit to the Chestermere Community. That the people who live there, will live, love, laugh and enjoy the land as much as those of us who lived on this land did for so many years.”
Update to Hodgson Farm Story
In October of 2018 the move was made to destroy the buildings that remained on the former Hodgson farm property to make way for the new development. Many felt sad to see the pile of red rubble that once was the barn. Here is the article about this which appeared in the Chestermere Anchor.
Two Small Stories about Chestermere
- as told to Jen Peddlesden
“I came out to Chestermere from Saskatchewan after WWII. I came by myself on the train. During that trip I met a young man who, after we arrived in Calgary, asked me if I might like to go fishing out at Chestermere Lake. Because I was new to Calgary and did not know many people I decided to say yes. He picked me up in his car and out we went. The whole time I was so nervous and a frightened, being on my own, and neither of us were much at conversation. I did not enjoy the fishing. He caught a huge pike and I really don’t like fish much. The whole way home, the half dead, prickly pike flopped around at my feet, it was horrible. I did not see the young man again, nor did I go fishing in Chestermere again.” Anonymous Feb 26 2009 at Wild Rose Church presentation on Chestermere History.
” In 1966 some friends invited me out to Chestermere Lake. This sounded wonderful so I dressed up with my best dress and high heels. It might even have been a blind date organized by my friends. Little did I know we were going to meet people who were camping and we would have a bonfire and marshmallows. I thought Chestermere Lake would be like Lake Louise with the lovely chateau and gardens. I was so embarrassed, tromping around in the mud in my high heels. But I have never forgotten that trip to Chestermere.” Marilyn F August 27 2018
Marilyn could not have known that back in 1912 a vision for Chestermere WAS to have an Aquatic Club that would have looked much like Chateau Lake Louise.
The Blue Canal Bridge
The Chestermere Lake pathway was completed in 1994, and runs along the main Western Irrigation District canal from the Bow River in Calgary to Chestermere Lake, the balancing pond for the Western Irrigation District. Before completion of this 28 km paved pathway, it was impossible to do a walk ‘around’ Chestermere Lake in the City of Chestermere. The installation of this bridge in early 1994 then allowed walkers to connect East and West Chestermere Drive for travel on foot or bicycle. Thanks to Kate and Dave Fielder for taking these photos and donating them to CHF. You can read more about the June opening of the pathway in Chestermere a Home for All Seasons. on pages125-127 Read about the controversy between residents and the Western Irrigation District over low water levels!
These photos are of the bridge as it is today, September 2018. The pathway is busy year round, cyclists, walkers, everyone out to enjoy the canal-side experience.
The Stryker Farm Story and the ‘Almost’ Chestermere Jail
George and May Stryker acquired the 891 acre Chestermere farm from the Alberta Government in January, 1955 as part payment for their Spy Hill Ranch, which then became the Provincial Gaol. ( to read this story published in the Rocky View News and Chestermere a Home for All Seasons, go here.)
George and May named the farm Chesterview Farm because of the good view they had of Chestermere Lake from their house.
George and May had 4 children: Dorothy, Floyd, Peter and Linda. Linda attended the Rockland School, Conrich School and later the Chestermere Lake High School. Dorothy had finished her schooling by this time. Floyd and Peter drove to Calgary and attended Mount Royal College for their High School years.
George and May subdivided part of the farm into 20 acre parcels. In 1964, they sold the rest of the farm (740 acres) to Bob Weedon of Cabri, Saskatchewan and they moved to a farm north of Strathmore.
A Sad Story Remembered
I want to share a story of an event that was told to me the year we purchased our lakefront home in Chestermere. My husband and I had purchased a home on East Chestermere Drive in the summer of 2002 and were anxiously awaiting our possession date. I was on a business trip and returning a car to the Avis Rental garage in Toronto when the Avis attendant, a friendly elderly gentleman reminded me I had not filled the gas tank and urged me to do so. He told me he would come with me as it would be quick and he knew a short cut. As funny as that sounds in today’s environment, I did not hesitate and he hopped in and away we went. He asked me where I was from and I said Calgary now, originally raised in Saskatchewan, and soon to be a resident of Chestermere, a small community outside of Calgary. He immediately raised his eyebrows, and began to tell me he had been to Chestermere Lake, and that he had a terrifying experience when he was a diver in the Armed Forces, I am assuming in the early 1950’s. A young woman had gone missing on the Lake and when rescue efforts were not successful, the divers were called in to search the lake to recover the unfortunate victim. The gentleman then told me how he has vivid memories of the event, and how he discovered her in the lake by being entangled in her flowing white dress. He explained how frantic he became trying to separate himself from her lifeless figure. The memory of that had haunted him for most of his life. The story was fascinating, and he was so interesting. It was all so ironic that I met him that day, and that he insisted in jumping in the car to save me some money, and that I agreed. It made me a bit late for my plane, so I did not get the details I should have. Since then, I have never met anyone who could verify the events, or when they happened, and who the victim was. In the years to come I had 2 people tell me there may be an entity in the basement of our home, a faceless lady in a long white dress, friendly in nature. I never felt it, but it was a bazaar coincidence.
Sonja LeDuc August 2019