STORIES About Chestermere–that missed the history book!

On-Going Project

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 Click on title below to go to these stories.  George and Del Hampton Story Ralph and Doreen Ford Story   Buses and Horses Len Baldwin  The Hodgson Farm Story  Two Small Stories About Chestermere The Blue Canal Bridge  The Stryker Farm Story – Almost a Jail!  A Sad Story Remembered  A Chestermere Lake Cabin Story  The Carlyle House – 84 Street and 17 Ave SE 

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!  ( On a sad note, Sally (Sarah) Wilton died in 2019) 

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
Ralph and Doreen purchased this house for a cabin at 291 ECDrive in 1966

 

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  a link to the article about this which appeared in the Chestermere Anchor.   Also, in 2021 Anthem United, the developer of the land owned by the Hodgson family engaged Chestermere Historical Foundation, and Mrs. Joyce Hodgson and her family, to create a sign to honour the Hodgson family and other local farmers. The district where the farm was located is called ‘Chelsea.’ Watch for the sign to be unveiled soon. 

 

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!

 

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.
2004 – Stryker Farm which was located where Lakepointe district is now.
2004 – Stryker Farm building site was located where Lakepointe district is now.Unfortunately the photo shows the buildings in a very dilapidated state but it is the only one available. There was a long hog barn running east and west ( rows of tiny windows) .  A small elevator was attached on the west end  and an older barn was attached on the south side and shows up behind the hog barn in the photo. Your photo shows the workshop between the house and the barn.  The house had a peaked roof that is showing in the photo.  A newer building shown on the far right was added after The Strykers sold the farm.

 

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

A Chestermere Lake Cabin Story

By Kay Clarke My mother and father (Roy G [Pete] and Agnes nee McKenzie), the Lesters,  acquired a lot on Chestermere Lake in about 1965 immediately south of Camp Chestermere.  I am not sure what the old lot number would have been.  It is now 1065 East Chestermere Drive. I am told that they had a choice at the time of that lot or of a larger one which was slightly south of Chestermere Yacht Club. The larger lot was mostly swamp so they decided it would not do.  What they did not realize is that the lot they chose had been a refuse dump at one time causing some problems in landscaping.  My mother was in charge of the landscaping and it was a labour of love for her.  The result was beautiful and gave the rest of the family many hours of enjoyment.  She had the help of the family to plant trees, some of which are still there.  A row of tiny evergreens are now very large trees.  My father put in a concrete barrier at the edge of the lake and Glen got mother a pump so she could supply her new plantings with water.    Father built a boathouse for the boat he was building at home. He also put in a dock. (Photo 1 – looking north, lake to left)  When the boat was finished the younger members of the family wanted to learn how to water-ski about which they knew nothing.  Glen had a cousin who did know how to water-ski so he called his cousin.  The cousin said “just stand in the water in the skis and hold on to the rope. Tell the boat driver to take off and just go.”  After many dunkings they decided this would not work.  Finally they found someone who knew what to do and from that time forward had many years of enjoyment. Photo2 – Four Clarke children with twoClarke Cousins from Morinville AB There was no cabin on this lot as the Lester family had previously acquired a small holiday trailer and it sat on the lot, providing overnight accommodation for family members.  There was the familiar washroom facility in the corner which my mother camouflaged with vines.  There was lots of room and sometimes a tent would also provide somewhere to stay for family visiting from out of town.   My father made a couple of picnic tables complete with benches such as you would see in many campgrounds.  This made it easy for many of us to just pack up food and go for an evening picnic. Mother was a member of the Calgary Ladies Curling Club and each July invited members to a Lakeside picnic.  Photos 3, 4, 5 . Calgary Curling Club ladies gathering              There would always be fun socializing, food and games.  Kay Lowney who also had a lot just north of the camp would sometimes be one of the group. Keeping the grass cut and flowers looking lovely took some doing.  We had a ride-on lawn mower at home (1mile away) and would sometimes drive it to the Lake to cut the grass.  Needless to say the traffic was not what it is today. In 1988 my mother was developing Alzheimer’s disease and was hospitalized.  At this time my father decided to sell the lot.

The Carlyle Home; the ‘blue’ house at 84 Street and 17 Avenue SE

From an article in The Chestermere Anchor September 2010 by Reporter Ashton Faulkner FAMILIAR HOMESTEAD TORN DOWN By Ashton Faulkner CALGARY – Letting go of a family homestead, knowing that the place where many people lived, raised families, and farmed will no longer exist, is something not everyone has to face during their lifetime. However, this is exactly what’s happened for the Carlyle family, who have finally bid farewell to their farmhouse and land that has been part of their history for over a century. “It was hard to let the family place go, but it’s just one of those things,” says Nancy Chernos (nee Carlyle), who grew up in the house. “It’s just the passage of time, and it’s really too bad.” Chernos’s daughter, Joanne Varga, was the last to live in the house. “It was never lived in by anyone, but a family member,” Chernos says. The house was originally built in 1909 by Chernos’s grandparents, Charlie and Ethel Carlyle when they moved out West from Ontario to farm. The house was then passed down to her parents. “My father lived there as long as he was alive, and my mother only moved out a few years ago, and then Joanne moved in.” The last Carlyle to live in the house, if only briefly, was Joanne’s son, Rodney Varga. It was his first home, and meant that five generations had lived in the house. “I think it was easier to let go of it in the end, because we had moved from there. It was the memories that mattered more than who it belonged to, and we’ll always have those.” Chernos now lives with her husband Rod in Raven, Alberta. She found out through word of mouth that the house was now completely gone. The family sold the house to developers about five years ago, and she says that she isn’t exactly sure what will become of the land, but it will likely be the site of a shopping centre or housing development. “Obviously it’s a shock to hear that it’s been torn down. We knew it eventually would be, but not exactly when, certainly not so soon. It’s sad to have to move on, but that’s how it is.” The Carlyle homestead was the large, blue house located on the corner of 84th Street and 17th Avenue SE. Many passersby grew used to seeing it there during their travels up and down 17th Ave., and many were surprised and saddened when they realized it was gone. The landmark house sat vacant for over two years, unbeknownst to anyone driving by. “It was difficult to see it the way it was for the last couple of years, without the grass cut or anything. But they left the curtains on the windows, and left the yard light on, so it’s not like it looked vacant at all,” Chernos says. “The land was still used for farming during that time.” The family looked into having the house moved to save it, but it was determined not a viable option, as the house was sitting on the original partial cement, partial dirt floor. The original hardwood flooring and tall baseboards remained in the house until the end. The family says that they are glad to hear that people miss it the way they do. “It was a landmark for the area, it was there a long time. There were many other houses in the area that went long ago,” says Chernos. “It originally had a red roof and cream siding until the late 50’s or early 60’s, but after going on vacation and seeing another farmhouse painted blue, they decided to do it up blue and white,” she says. “That’s how we’ll always remember it.” END

Comments are closed.