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COUNTY OF BEAVER No. 9 - Excerpts taken from the
"Story of Rural Municipal Government in Alberta 1909 to1983"
by the Association of the Municipal Districts and Counties
Contributed for use in Alberta Digital Archives by Darlene Homme
A Brief History of the Viking District
M.D. of Iron Creek No. 455
In 1900 there was not a settler in the Viking District. Lake Thomas was dry and its bed was used for
pony races by the Indians. Birch Lake was als& dry. Wild life was abundant; red and black foxes,
coyotes, muskrats, deer and the occasional brown bear.
With the turn of the century, the rich grasses attracted cattlemen. By the beginning of 1902 there were
12 residents in the district. Actual settlement was impossible until after surveys were made and registered.
In 1901 township 49-12 was staked, 1902 that of 48-12 and 1903 townships 47-12, 46-12 and 45-12.
There was an ox cart trail between Battleford and Edmonton. This trail forms part of the road between the
gas camp and Viking. Along the trail a telegraph line was built in 1877 between Battleford and Hay Lakes
and on to Edmonton in 1879. This line was very difficult to maintain due to prairie fires burning the poplar
poles, or being broken by buffalo using them for scratching purposes, or the wires touching wet leaves.
There were many sod buildings. One house was built in the form of an igloo. Log cabins were so well
constructed that even today there are some in the district. A portable sawmill was brought in by a couple of
homesteaders. This was a big help in getting logs ready for cabins.
Wetaskiwin was a distant town, but the nearest. Hauling supplies was a week trip which meant fighting mosquitos,
fording many streams, meeting bands of Indians and a prairie fire was a most fearful thing. Lumber was also
hauled from Wetaskiwin.
Hauling of mail was a problem. Wetaskiwin was the closest postal centre for a time, then Vegreville had one.
Later a Post Office was located north and east of Viking. This building was also the first polling place of the
District and used in the election of Matthew McCauley to Alberta's first Legislative Assembly in 1905.
In the early days there was more water than land in the district. Small sloughs of today were lakes of years ago.
Alberta Government Engineers, with large ideas, persuaded farmers to allow them to build a drainage ditch to
drain these sloughs as well as several miles of farm lands into Lake Thomas. The cost of this was set at $18,000.00
but turned out to exceed $45,000.00. Many farmers could not pay the assessment levied and were forced to hand
over their land. Most of the big sloughs were partly drained but the result did not justify the outlay and confiscations.
First religious services were held by the Catholics and Lutherans in 1903 and the Methodists in 1906.
A Community Church was formed in 1918. This was a non-demoninational Protestant Church and its success had
much to do with the formation of the United Church in 1925.
The formation of a 14 bed Municipal Hospital in 1921 was an event worth noting.
In building the first school, "Lake Thomas", in 1905 the farmers who assisted were allowed 50 cents per day - this
was not cash but to be applied to taxes. John Kringen and 0.8. Nordstrom hauled the first loads of gravel from Lake
Thomas. All the lumber was hauled from Wetaskiwin. In 1907 the school was opened.
The first gas well was drilled in the L.I.D. of Iron Creek in 1914. More wells were drilled in 1923 and gas was piped
to Edmonton as well as branches to Viking and towns along the line.
Among the prominent men of the district the following attained honor through many years of faithful services to the public:
John Kringen - a born leader, promoted the building of the school, the church, the creamery, and the hospital.
William A. Walker - was a successful farmer, deserves honor for time and energy devoted to the betterment of the
community. To him as Reeve of Iron Creek and Joseph Swayne as Reeve of Lakeview belong most of the credit for
the good roads in the county.
George A. Loades - one of the earliest pioneers, was a prominent figure. He arrived in 1904 and was appointed Justice of
the Peace in 1905, a position he held for 21 years. In cooperation with John Kringen he helped form the L.I.D. of Iron Creek
and was Reeve for a number of years. He was Reeve at the time of the terrible winter of 1919-1920 when the shortage of
feed caused untold loss to the district. Appeals for hay in Manitoba brought scandalous prices of $50.00 and $60.00 per ton
for stuff that was profuse with weeds. Even then the local officials were able to dole out at times but one bale of hay to a
farmer who had 50 or 60 head of starving cattle to feed. The teams would form long lines, every man begging for hay for
his animals. Iron Creek spent $70,000 and Lakeview probably as much in this harrowing situation. Mr. Loades was
president of the Agricultural Society for years, thereby encouraging cleaner farms, improved stock, betterment of farm
conditions, and interesting the children in farming.
A Brief History of the Tofield District - M.D. of Cornhill No. 487
The area now known as the Tofield District was once the happy hunting grounds of the Cree Indians and they had
their troubles with the Blackfoot Tribe, The large Beaverhill Lake was teeming with geese, ducks, swans and pelicans.
Jackfish and suckers provided a plentiful source of food. The Beaver Hills to the west covered with jackpine, spruce,
aspen, and tamerac provided shelter and fuel. In this forest were to be found buffalo, bear, moose and deer as well as
beaver. Thus there was a continuous supply of meat and fur. Wild frnits such as strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons,
chokecherries and pincherries were abundant.
When the age of farming was reached the land was found to be exceptionally fertile. The soil is among the most fertile
in the province.
The first white man in this area was Charles Whitford, who first saw Beaver Lake in 1865. He returned in 1873 and lived
for three ',years on the land now occupied by Verlyn Moos. During the 1880's settlers started to come in and take up
claims along the west side of Beaverhill Lake. In 1884 Robert and John Logan arrived. Robert Logan kept a trading post
for over twenty years on his ranch 12 miles north of Tofield.
Government survey in 1893 surveyed the land around Beaverhill Lake. Settlers could now secure homestead entries for
the land they has squatted on.
In 1894 P. Anderson came in with a large party of Norwegians and settled south of Tofield, the district now referred to as
From 1900 on the district received many settlers from many lands: United States, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France,
Poland and Holland.
Roads posed a major problem for the pioneers. Supplies had to be hauled from Wetaskiwin or Edmonton. The long,
high hill near Gwyne, enroute to Wetaskiwin, proved to be one of the major obstacles during travel. One of the earliest
winter routes to Edmonton was via Ross Creek and Fort Saskatchewan.
The arrival of mail was always a happy occasion. The first settlers had to travel to Wetaskiwin for the mail. About 1894
a Post Office was opened west of the lake and mail was brought in every two weeks.
The first railway to cross the country from Winnipeg to Edmonton was the Canadian Northern in 1905, which reached
Camrose, only 30 miles away. In 1906 the Grand Trunk Pacific surveyed a line with the town of Tofield to be situated on
this. The steel reached Tofield on July 20, 1909.
Before 1890 Roman Catholic missionaries occasionally visited the district. Between 1875 and 1908 the Church of England,
The Roman Catholic, the Lutheran, the Methodist, and the Presbyterian churches were established.
Tofield was named in honor of Doctor Tofield, a pioneer medical man who homsteaded a mile north of the present town site.
Coal mines were opened between 1905 and 1910.
By the turn of the century many more settlers had arrived and farming was, by then, carried on fairly extensively. Some
of the labor saving machines began to make their appearance. What was once mostly handwork-broadcasting the seeds,
cutting the grain with scythes, threshing with flails, etc-was gradually taken over by machines. The first up-to-date steam
threshing outfit in this community was owned by Henry Wood who settled north of Tofield in 1903. This machine is
remembered all over the district, for the owner carried on extensive threshing over a number of years and it is said that
Mr. Wood's work area extended from Ross Creek to Kingman.
The coming of steel linked the isolated community to the wider world and i t grew and prospered.
In 1903 when the Local Improvement Ordinance was passed to provide for the organization of self-governing Local
Improvement Districts this area consisted of four townships. The secretary for this set-up was the late Mr. William
Thomson. This organization existed until 1912 when the Rural Municipality Act was passed allowing nine townships
to an area with six councillors. The area not being classed as an organized area became the Rural Municipality of
Cornhill No. 487 a~~d held its first meeting January 6th, 1913 with five councillors. The first Reeve was T.J. Glenn
and T. J. Rogness was the first secretary. The name of the municipality was chosen at the first meeting. Quite a
number of names were submitted of which Cornhill was one. The name is of historic interest also, dating back to
the 12th Century in the City of London, England. A road running between Poultry and Leadenhall streets bearing the
name of Cornhill for 700 or more years. It was suggested that the site was an ancient corn (grain) market, though
there is no actual record of this. It is now a busy street. The name Cornhill has a pleasant sound and there were
visions of plenty of food - hence the name was chosen.
1914 saw six Councillors elected. T. J. Rogness was secretary until January 1915, when other business obligations
forced him to resign. John Weatherill, father of Harold Weatherill, who is now a councillor for this area, then became
secretary and held the office until his death in March 1928. Routine business was carried on until this small district
became a part of the enlarged District in 1943.
Ryley District - M.D. of Beaver Lake No. 486
The history of the Ryley district is very much the same as that of Viking and Tofield. Being situated between the two,
the same trails were used and the living conditions of the pioneers were alike. A Post Office was set up for this area
on the east side of Beaver Lake and one to the south.
The Ryley district is also a mixed farming area. The district had a large creamery and cheese factory which was
destroyed by fire caused by a lightning strike in the late 1940's. It now has a $100,000 milk drying plant. Coal of
very good quality is also available from mines at the south end o~f the district.
Organization of Districts that make up The County of Beaver No. 9
Municipal District of Patricia No. 485
This district began as District 25-J-4 consisting of four townships and Councillors Eli Latham, Peter Nelson, and J.W.
Suddaby and met June 17, 1905. Eli Latham was elected Chairman and one member took the minutes. July 15, 1905
a secretary was appointed. December 1905 an election was held and one more Councillor was added, namely Mr.
Hennessy. This added up to one councillor for each Township. The district remained as such until 1912 when five more
townships were added, making a total of nine, Six councillors were elected and the district was made into six divisions.
The district being an Organized Local Improvement District operated under the Local Improvement Act of 1907. The
number assigned to it was 485. First meeting of this nine township area was held February 8, 1913.
Municipal District of Iron Creek No. 455
This district began as District 24-J-4 consisting of four 'townships and Councillors George Loades, J.E. Kringen, and
Mr. Havener and met May 28, 1906. The next meeting held August 4, 1906 saw C. Barber present a fourth councillor.
This district remained as such until 1912 when it became an Organized Local Improvement District No. 455 and five
more townships were added. First meeting of this area was held February 1, 1913.
Municipal District of Beaver Lake No. 486
Very few records of this district are available but according to one of the oldtimers first Councillors for the Local
Improvement District were Mr. Golden, Mr. Albertson, P.P. Kjosness and John H. Hill. This area also began with
four townships. It was still an L.I.D. in 1915 but had been enlarged to nine townships.
The Provincial Government had Organized Local Improvement Districts operating under the Local Improvement
Ordinance Act of 1907 and Rural Municipalities operating under the Rural Municipality Act of 1912. The Organized
Local Improvement Districts were remaining as such as preferred the "wait and see" policy.
In 1918 the Provincial Government passed the Municipal Districts act. Under this Act the Organized Local Improvement
Districts and Rural Municipalities became Municipal Districts.
Local Improvement District No. 485 became the Municipal District of Patricia No. 485 and the first Reeve was M. McDiarmid.
Local Improvement District No. 455 became the Municipal District of Iron Creek No. 455, and the first Reeve was Henry Ovens.
Local Improvement District No. 486 became the Municipal District of Beaver Lake No. 486, first Reeve was B. Lillemoe.
From the records it would appear that the Municipal Districts of Cornhill No. 487 had been a Rural Municipality in 1913.
First Reeve of the Municipal District of Cornhill No. 487 was William Thomson.
1943 saw many nine-township districts become new enlarged districts of which this area was one. The District
included M.D. of Cornhill No. 487, M.D. of Beaver Lake No. 486, M.D. of Patricia No. 485, and M.D. of Iron Creek
No. 455, a total of thirty-five townships. The number and name assigned to the district was Municipal District of
Ryley No. 480. The first Reeve was Henry Ovens and the Secretary-treasurer was J.W. McMullen, former secretary-
treasurer of the M.D. of Beaver Lake No. 486. The name given the district was for organization purposes only. At
meeting of Council March 13, 1943 the name was changed to M.D. of Beaver No. 480. On April 1, 1945, the Department
of Municipal Affairs assigned new numbers to many districts. This one then became M.D. of Beaver No.73.
As time went on it was considered necessary to change the boundaries so that the M.D. and the School District
covered the same territory. This meant that for school bus transportation boundaries had to be changed to suit
Effective January 1, 1955, some territory was added at the east end of the district, some on the south and a small
portion to the north. Some was taken away on the west and the south-west corner. This co-terminous area covers
approximately 1400 square miles.
First Reeve of the revised area was John P. Rozmahel, the Secretary-treasurer was J. W. Letourneau. In November
1957 the Municipal Council applied for County status, and effective January 1, 1958 the Municipal District of Beaver
No. 73 became the County of Beaver No. 9. The first Reeve was John P. Rozmahel.
The County of Beaver No.9 was created by Order In Council No. 1964/57 on January 1, 1958 and was created from
the Holden School Division No. 17 and the Municipal District of Beaver No. 73. The elected members of each of
these now disorganized bodies were, by virtue of the disorganization, relieved of their positions. Mr. N.S. (Stu)
Kennedy, a senior inspector of the Department of Municipal Affairs, was appointed administrator with Olof Monsson,
formerly secretary treasurer of the M.D. of Beaver, as county secretary treasurer and Jack H. Sanders, formerly
assistant secretary treasurer of the Holden School Division, as the county assistant secretary treasurer.
In preparation for the election of seven councillors, nominations were held on February 1, 1958 under Mr. Noah Solberg
as returning officer. On March 1, 1958 the first county election was held and the following councillors were elected:
Division 1 - Win. D. Johnston
Division 2 - John R Rozinahel
Division 3 - Beach B. Starky
Division 4 - Anton Semchyshen
Division 5 - A. Leigh Gibson
Division 6 - Edwin M. Magneson
Division 7 - Harold Watherill
Mr. Jack Sanders resigned on February 7, 1958 and Robert Cross, formerly assistant secretary of the M.D. of Beaver,
was appointed assistant county secretary treasurer.
The first county organization meeting was held on March 17, 1958. John Rozmahel was elected as reeve, Olof Monsson
was appointed as secretary treasurer, Ernest Cook as assessor and Dave Ritchie, of Stewart, Williams and Stewart, as
the county surveyor. The per diem allowance for meetings was set at $10.00 and the mileage rate was 12 cents. The
annual salaries were $5,500.00 for the secretary treasurer, $3,300.00 for the assistant and $2,250. each for the clerk
and the stenographer.
It is interesting to note the historical financial implications involved in equipment purchases. Two graders were bought
in May 1958. A Super 88 Austin Western fully equipped cost $27,344.00 and a Richardson Model 50 (60 Hp.) cost
At the elections held in March 1959 Edwin Magneson and Leigh Gibson were re-elected by acclamation.
The first agreement to construct and operate a senior citizens Lodge in Viking was signed in June 1959. The agreement
was between Viking, Ryley and the county. Since that time, Holden and Tofield were added and lodges have been
constructed in Holden and Tofield.
The discount on prepayment of taxes was dropped as of January 1, 1960.
In 1960 Beaver council was awarded a trip to Peoria by R. Angus Ltd. to go through the Caterpillar plant. Some strange
stories came back and may have had something to do with the discontinuance of those trips.
In 1960 Mayor Hume of the City of Camrose, in an effort to foster good relations between the various local governments
in the area, gave a trophy to be presented to the winners of a bonspiel to be held between the seven rural municipalities
which border the County of Camrose. These were the Counties of Ponoka, Lacombe, Stettler, Leduc, Wetaskiwin,
Flagstaff and Beaver, which with the County of Camrose making it an eight-rink bonspiel. This event has been held every
year since with each countytaking turns hosting it.
In the municipal elections held in march 1960 Jack Roddick was elected by acclamation in Division 2 replacing John
Rozmahel who chose not to run. Beach Starky was re-elected in Division 3 by acclamation. At the statutory meeting
held on April 4, 1960 Edwin Magneson was elected reeve.
The seed cleaning plant was built in 1960 and the official opening was held on October 20, 1960. The first council
representatives on the board were Beach Starky and Leigh Gibson.
The first business accounting machine was purchased for the office on November 10, 1960 from Burroughs Business
Machine Ltd. for the price of $7,000.00.
The first multi-parcel subdivision was approved in principle on Islet Lake on December 8, 1960. Subdivision development
increased dramatically over the next few years due to the decrease in land available for subdivision in the County of
In the elections held in 1961 Win. Johnston and Harold Weatherill were re-elected and Walter Kropielnicki was elected
replacing Anton Semchyshen in Division 4.
1961 was the year the C.N.R. starting closing their stations in the county. Both the stations at Kinsella and Bruce were
closed that year. Holden and Tofield were closed in 1965.
This was also the year that the county became involved in the operation of municipal parks. An agreement to purchase
50 acres in the N.W 1 1-49-18-W4 from M.J. Tiedemann and L. Larson was signed. This lease became the Nugget Lake
Park. Arrangements were also made to operate the Camp Lake Park north of Kinsella.
On January 7, 1962 Beach Starky resigned representing Division 3. In March Win. A. Dorm was elected to assume
reponsibility for the division. Also at the time, Leigh Gibson and Edwin Magneson were re-elected.
In April 1962, as a result of advertising to get an opinion as to whether or not the people wanted to retain the county
systems of government, a petition was presented signed by 56 electors requesting the county revert to the former system.
Because of this lack of more significant opposition the petition failed.
In the municipal elections held in 1963 Jack Roddick and Win. Dorm were re-elected to council.
In the 1964 municipal elections Walter Kropielnicki, Harold Weatherill and Win. Johnston were re-elected. 1964 was also
the year the county purchased its first Euclid Motor Scraper from Ferguson Supply Ltd. It was a TS 14 twin and the
purchase price was $65,565.00.
On December 3, 1965 the first meeting was called to choose a consulting firm to set up the secondary road system. The
firm of Stewart, Weir, Stewart and Company was chosen. An organization consisting of representatives from the M.D. of
Provost, M.D. of Wainwright, M.D. of Flagstaff and the County of Beaver was formed to co-ordinate the secondary road
study. It was named the East Central Road Study Area No. 13 and they held their first meeting on January 26, 1966. Jack
Roddick and Walter Kropielnicki were the first representatives from the County of Beaver. This group still meets annually
to discuss mutual problems regarding secondary roads.
In the municipal elections held on December 4, 1965 Leigh Gibson was re-elected and George Knudslien was elected to
represent Division 6, formerly represented by Edwin Magneson. At the statutory meeting held on January 3, 1966 Jack
Roddick was elected reeve.
March 17, 1966 was the date the first discussion on buried telephone cable was recorded. In September 1966 a drainage
system on Waskwei Creek was first discussed. There are several drainage or flood control systems in the county but this
one took the longest to come to fruition. It was finally completed in 1982.
It appeared progress really caught up with us because a dial telephone system was installed in the county office in
Jack Roddick and Win. Dorm were re-elected to council in the municipal elections held on December 3, 1966.
A water and sewer system for the Hamlet of Bruce was first discussed on May 11, 1967. The costs quoted at that
time were $129,000.00 for both. This project was later turned down by a vote of the county rate payers, on December
On August 10, 1967 the County was set up as a fire protection area and equipment was purchased so that the whole
rural area of the county could have fire protection. Mutual aid agreements were entered into with the towns and villages
for the operation and storage of the equipment. Neil Reid was appointed the first county fire chief on May 24, 1968.
In the municipal elections held on December 2, 1967 Win. Johnston and Walter Kropielnicki were re-elected and Charles
Sears was elected to represent Division 7 replacing Harold Weatherill who chose to retire from council.
The secretary treasurer, OIof Monsson, resigned effective October 15, 1968. Robert Cross was appointed to the position
at that time.
In the municipal elections held in November 1968 Leigh Gibson and George Knudslien were re-elected.
In order to enhance and co-ordinate the recreation programs and facilities in the county and the towns and villages,
a regional recreation board was formed in May 1969 with Mr. Hartwig as the first director.
In the municipal elections held in November 1969 Jack Roddick was re-elected and Gabe Brissard was elected to
represent Division 3, formerly represented by Win. Dorm.
In order to protect the improvements on the acreages in the west end of the county a fire agreement with the County
of Strathcona was completed in July 1970.
In 1970 Win. Johnston, Walter Kropielnicki and Charles Sears were all re-elected.
In 1971 legislation regarding municipal elections became effective. All councillors were up for election and would
serve three years. In that year the only change on council was Division 5 where Leonard Laube succeeded Leigh Gibson.
In the municipal elections held in October 1974 Win. Johnston chose to retire and the first lady councillor was elected.
Hjordis Armitage became the representative for Division 1. Eugene Ewasiuk was also elected that year, replacing
Leonard Laube representing Division 5.
The reeve, Jack Roddick resigned on July 10, 1975 after having served on council from March 1960 and as reeve since
January 1966. In a by-election John Mcintosh was elected by acclamation on July 30, 1975 to represent Division 2.
George Knudslien was elected reeve on August 14, 1975.
Due to the large number of subdivision applications and as no effective means of control or regulation was in effect the
county passed its first zoning by-law on June 29, 1976.
In the elections held in October 1977 Gordon Maxwell was elected replacing John Mcintosh who did not choose to let
his name stand for nomination.
At the organization meeting held on October12, 1978 Walter Kropielnicki was elected reeve.
After much investigation and several public meetings, the county council gave first reading on December 14, 1978
and second and third readings on August 9, 1979 to a by-law to provide water and sewer services in the Hamlet of
Bruce. It is interesting to note the population trend in the hamlets. A census was conducted in 1960 in the hamlets
of Bruce and Kinsella. The populations were: Bruce 177 and Kinsella 113. When the services were put in Bruce in
1980 the population was 96 and in Kinsella it was 69.
In 1979 the county council, in the interest of efficiency, put in a radio system. All the graders, most of the municipal
trucks and the fire engines were provided with mobile radios with base stations in the public works garage and in the
At the organization meeting held on October 23, 1979 George Knudslien was elected reeve.
On December 13, 1979 Gabriel Brissard resigned from council. A by-election was held on February 1, 1980 and
Gordon Homes was elected to represent Division 3.
On January 10, 1980 the construction of a sewer system for the Hamlet of Kinsella was approved.
The provision of more recreation facilities in all the towns and villages, as well as the county became pronounced.
There developed a rift in the regional recreation board and the board was disorganized on February 14, 1980.
Because of the proliferation of requests for subdivision development it was decided a development officer was
required. Mr. Victor Istace was employed effective May 15, 1980 to be the county's first development officer.
In the elections held in October 1980 John Warner was elected to succeed Charles Sears and Victor Romaniuk
was elected to succeed Walter Kropielnicki, who retired as councillor for Division 4.
On July 31, 1982 Robert Cross resigned from the position of secretary treasurer and the position was filled by Garth
Bancroft, who had formerly been with the County of Wetaskiwin.