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COUNTY OF STRATHCONA No. 20 - Excerpts taken from the "Story of Rural Municipal 
Government in Alberta 1909 to 1983" by the Association of the Municipal 
Districts and Counties

Contributed for use in Alberta Digital Archives by Darlene Homme

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The history of the County of Strathcona began in 1893 when the Clover Bar area 
on the eastern outskirts of Edmonton (Highway 16 East) was declared by the 
territorial legislature as Statute Labour District Number Two. The residents of 
the county are proud to think that we began our collective life as the first 
self-governing area in Alberta and the second in the North-West Territories. An 
area in Saskatchewan was the first Statute Labour District.

It would have been wonderful to say that our local self-government grew from the 
great ideal of freedom for the individual and a voice in the affairs of the 
community, but this was not so, for in Western Canada, idealism of this sort 
gave way to the more practical phases of life and the first form of self-
government grew from the necessity of protecting property from stray cattle and 
horses, and the ever-present threat of fire. So the territorial council exacted 
legislation that set up herd and fire districts in 1886. The council took one 
more step when it passed the 1887 Statute Labour Ordinance which set up the 
Statute Labour Districts of which Township 53, Range 22. West 4th Meridian 
(Clover Bar) was declared number two.

The 1890 Statute Labour and Fire Ordinance combined the function of statute 
labour and fire districts and defined it as an area of not more than 144 square 
miles with at least 50 residents (males from the age of 18 years to 60 years). A 
rapid growth of organized districts resulted from the first two declared in 1893 
to 36 districts in 1896.

The 1903 Local Improvement Ordinance altered the areas by increasing their size 
from three to six townships. That is an increase of area from 108 square miles 
to 216 square miles.

The Statute Labour Districts were well named as they represented areas where, 
besides an average 5 cents an acre property tax, local self-government demanded 
labour of taxpayers to maintain what roads and trails were, as well as fighting 
fires where they proved to be a threat. This was revived in 1934 in the 
operation of rural telephone mutual companies. Statute labor fell into disfavour 
and so, great pressure was brought to bear upon the territorial government and 
after 1905, upon the new Alberta Government to set up larger improvement 
districts.

By 1911, the Provincial Government was swamped with requests to establish rural 
municipalities modelled along the lines of municipal districts established in 
the Province of Saskatchewan. By 1912, the Alberta Legislature passed the Rural 
Municipality Act which divided the province into a grid of nine townships 
squares of 324 acres.

The three local improvement districts were made into two larger local 
improvement districts. LID 27-R-4 included all the land north of the dividing 
line between Township 54 and 55 (northern boundary of LID 27-R-4) up to the 
North Saskatchewan River. The southern LID's 26-S-4 and 26-R-4 (land between 
Townships 51 and 52 and Ranges 21 to 25) became LID 518.

Local Improvement District 517 held its organizational meeting on the 8th of 
February, 1913, in the Fire Hall in Fort Saskatchewan, with Mr. Stewart 
secretary-treasurer at an annual wage of $325.

George W. Uren, Bremner; C. A. Lamb, Agricola; Peter Unterschultz, Fort 
Saskatchewan; and Andrew Underschultz, Fort Saskatchewan were the elected 
representatives for each division.

A tax rate of $8.00 per quarter section was struck with the provision of a 10% 
discount being allowed for all taxes being paid before July 1st deadline. The 
minutes of that first meeting mention that the following wages be paid for all 
work done in the local improvement district:

Men-25 cents per hour.

Foreman of crews-30 cents per hour.

Men with team of horses-SO cents per hour.


The area was known simply as L.I.D. No. 517 until the 23rd of June, 1967, when 
the district quite casually was named L.I.D. Clover Bar. The secretary reported 
in that meeting that he had received a letter from the government saying that 
under the amended Local Improvement Ordinance, ~ name was required. He had 
communicated with each member of the council to obtain his views with the result 
that "Clover Bar" had proven to be the unanimous choice of the members and had 
therefore been sent to the Minister of the Department.

The district, though some 300 square miles in area, was still small enough for a 
feud to reach the hallowed confines of the council chamber. In 1914, an 
altercation between a resident of one of the divisions and the councillor in 
charge of the division took place. The resident appealed to the council in two 
different letters describing the incident and demanding that some compensatory 
action take place. In the July meeting, the resident appeared as they had 
requested him in order to substantiate the charge. He received a hearing and 
named as witnesses, four well-known members of the community. Secretary-
treasurer Jackman, reports in Volume 1 page 37 of the Minute Book, "no action 
was considered necessary by the council."

The matter was not really finished with this casual dismissal as the same 
resident "appeared before the council on the 16th of January, 1915, meeting 
requesting payment for work done on the road and disallowed by the councillor 
for the division". The case was re-opened and the remaining members of the 
council felt the resident's claim was justified for they passed the motion that 
"provided he puts a pay sheet through in the usual manner, he was to be given 
$5.00". Motion passed.

But things did not rest there as the minutes of the next meeting of the 20th of 
March 1915, read: "A letter was read asking for interest on the sum of $5.00 
paid to him for labour following the resolution passed at the last meeting of 
the council.

Moved and seconded that the matter be dropped and that the claim be considered 
settled. Carried. They were not going to squander 30 cents of the public's 
money.

In the 11th of August 1917 meeting of the council, P. Hecko moved and A. Stetson 
seconded that "we take the necessary steps to form the Local Improvement 
District into a Rural Municipality. Carried." Nothing came of the motion until 
the 10th of August, 1918 when the L.I.D. Number 517 became the Municipal 
District of Clover Bar Number 517.


The next important date for the municipal district was going to be the 9th of 
February 1943, when the M.D. of Clover Bar No. 517 was to merge with the M.D. of 
Strathcona No. 518. It is here that we take up the story of the southern half of 
the area known as Local Improvement District No. 518. The six councillors of 
this council were engaged in a naming duel with the Department of Municipal 
Affairs during 1917. On the 26th of May, 1917, they had passed a motion that 
their area be known as the South Edmonton Local Improvement District No. 518 and 
that this recommendation be sent to the Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs for 
confirmation. That gentleman had the last word by not approving the name but 
informing them that the district be known as the Strathcona Local Improvement 
District No. 518. Apparently, the councillors accepted this edict and at the 
25th of May 1918 meeting, the L.I.D. 518 was changed to the Municipal District 
of Strathcona No. 518.

The first meeting of the council had been held in the Police Court in South 
Edmonton but the members were forced to move. They rented three rooms on the 
second floor of the Bank of Commerce in South Edmonton. They held their first 
meeting in the new off ices on March 29th, 1919.

The minutes of the council reached a sweeping climax on November 2nd, 1928 when 
secretary-treasurer, John Sanford, was instructed by motion of Frank Ball "to 
write the Hon. 0. L. McPherson to the effect that this council on behalf of 
itself, and of the Committee appointed by the ratepayers expressing their
sincere acknowledgement of the redeemed promise of the Hon. 0. L. McPherson in 
the gravelling of the Cooking Lake Trail (Highway 14 East), to assure him how 
greatly this work is appreciated by the ratepayers, the Business Men's 
Association of South Edmonton, the U.F.A., these associations being keenly 
interested, and of those using the roads for the summer resorts, 'Who feel that 
the action of the Minister will ever be remembered with joy and appreciated in 
that their burdens have been lightened, and life made easier, which will be a 
living testimony by the Minister for the travelling comfort to be enjoyed by the 
people."

Cooking Lake enjoyed a great wave of popularity at that time as a lake for 
swimming and many cottages had been erected on its shores. Policing and garbage 
pickup in the summer village was a constant problem for the council. One that 
was really not solved until roads and highways built to other Alberta lakes and 
World War II made a ghost town of the popular resort area.

There were times when the secretary-treasurers of the councils lost patience 
with matters in the council meetings. The secretary wrote in the minutes of the 
27th of April, 1935: "The agent for the company manufacturing road machinery and 
culverts was in attendance, and after taking a considerable of the council's 
time elucidating why his product was so much better than the opponent's because 
it was painted a different color or some such trivial argument, the council 
finally got down to business."

A joint meeting of the Cbver Bar and Strathcona Municipal Districts was held on 
April 8th, 1943 in the Strathcona Municipal Office in its Bank of Commerce 
Chambers, South Edmonton, Mr. Mark Latam of Bremner, the Returning Officer, had 
conducted the elections and announced the five elected councillors: R.H.M. 
Bailey, Councillor for Division 1; F.R. Haythorne, Division 2; H. Schiewe, 
Division 3; E. Keith, Division 4; G.W. Moyer, Division 5.

Mr. G. W. Moyer had been elected councillor in April 1936, filling the position 
left vacant by his father's sudden death. He has served in this office 
continually up to the present date.

Mr. Dave Roberts (Clover Bar M.D. Secretary-treasurer) was appointed Secretary-
treasurer of the enlarged district. Mr. Dennis Brown (Strathcona M.D. was 
appointed assistant Secretary-treasurer and Mr. Alfred Hawkins (Strathcona M.D. 
assistant Secretary-treasurer) was appointed accountant. Mr. Hawkins has served 
the County continuously up to the present time.

The union was culminated with the Department of Municipal Affairs giving the 
M.D. of Strathcona the Number 83 on April 6th, 1945.

As in other municipal areas, the tension created by the boards of school 
districts and later the school division over how much money must be raised by 
the municipal councils for purposes of education lead to the petitioning of the 
Minister to declare the area a county. The first council for the county in 1962 
was made up by:

M. R. Parker. Reeve; 
G. W. Mover: 
A. F. McEachren: 
B. A. M. Adamson: 
C. R. A. Wegren.

Legislation by the Social Credit Government had made this final step easier by 
re-organizing the boundaries of the school divisions and the municipalities so 
that they coincided.

Present councillors for the County of Strathcona No. 20 are:

M.R. Parker, Reeve; 
G. W. Moyer; 
G. J. Ellen; 
T. M. Reed; 
and S.E. Stewart.

1983 UPDATE

Reading the first part of the history of the County of Strathcona from today's 
perspective (1982) makes one feel as though one is in a "time-warp" going 
backwards. Many things have happened "in" and "to" the county since the 
conclusion of the first phase in the life of this very vibrant, involved and 
unique county. For one thing, the population rose from 16,185 in 1969 to 50,126 
in 1981.

Governance of the county in terms of representation remained in a state of 
status quo from January 1, 1962 until the emergence of Sherwood Park, which 
remains at hamlet status to this date.

The first homes in Sherwood Park were put on the market for sale in the fall of 
1956 and Bob Wegren was the hamlet's first representative on county council. He 
was elected to office in 1962 when the Municipal District of Strathcona became a 
county. He served for three years. Sally E. Stewart ran in the 1966 municipal 
elections and became the first woman to sit on council and served as the only 
representative from Sherwood Park until 1973. It should be noted here that Mr. 
M.R. Parker served the new county as its first reeve consecutively from 1962 
until his retirement in October 1974. G.W Moyer served his constituents in the 
northern division of the county from 1936, taking over after the death of his 
father, until his retirement in 1974 and his seat was only contested once in his 
38 long years of dedicated service to Strathcona.

Of course when the County of Strathcona was formed in 1962 this meant the 
dissolution of the Clover Bar School Division which had been in operation since 
January 1, 1938. The school board was made up of the four members of council 
plus one member from the Town of Fort Saskatchewan. The county still operates 
the school system in the town. Mrs. Winifred Ferguson served the town as the 
school representative for 19 years, and for 17 of those 19 years as the only 
representative to the board. She also served on the Clover Bar School Division 
for one year.

During these years the Hamlet of Sherwood Park continued to grow and by spring 
of 1972 the then Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Hon. D.J. Russell, confirmed 
a decision of the province to allow for two additional representatives from 
Sherwood Park. The decision was based upon representation by population. At the 
same time re-distribution provided for a fifth area in the rural area of the 
county. Elections were held and on November 22, 1972, Mrs. Jean Bilan and Mr. 
William E. Marshall were elected to serve Sherwood Park while Mr. J.D. Morrow 
won the right to represent the newly created rural division. Many who will read 
this account will know of J.D. and his years of service to the constituents and 
at the time of writing this account he is still an active member of county 
council. He won the honour of reeveship for the years 1976 through 1981 
inclusive.

Growth again allowed for approval of one more division in Sherwood Park prior to 
the fall election in 1978. Mr. Ihor Bayduza was elected to represent the new 
Division 9.

The county council now consisted of nine representatives-5 rural and 4 urban. 
This representation remained until, by annexation on January 1, 1982, 54,000 
acres of County of Strathcona land was annexed to the City of Edmonton and 
County of Leduc. With that stroke of the pen, Strathcona lost one whole division 
in the south western corner and councillorAlbert Klapstein, who had won the 
right to represent those people in the previous municipal elections, lost his 
job. More will be said on the subject of annexation later in this account.

While the council grew, so did the school board representation. Mrs. Ferguson 
did an outstanding job, single-handedly representing the Town of Fort 
Saskatchewan for 17 years. In 1978 approval was given for two additional 
representatives from the town and at the same time provision was made for three 
members at-large, from Sherwood Park to be elected at the fall elections. And so 
in 1978 and to the present time, the board of education consists of all members 
of council plus three representatives from the Town of Fort Saskatchewan and 
three members elected at-large from the Hamlet of Sherwood Park.

At the time of writing this account council members are:

Warren C. Thomas, REEVE, Division 5, 
Ralph L. Horley, DEPUTY REEVE, Division 6, 
George Wunderly, Division 2, 
J.D. Morrow, Division 3, 
A. Gordon Olson, Division 4, 
B. William E. Marshall, Division 7, 
C. Dorothy V. Horton, Division 8 
D. and Florence Horswill, Division 9.

The Board of Education consists of the above councillors together with:

Mrs. Iris Evans, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, Ken Huzil, and Raymond Johnston 
representing Sherwood Park and Norma Armstrong, David L. Clark and Douglas 
McCutcheon, representing the Town of Fort Saskatchewan.

As everyone knows a council and school board must have an able support staff and 
many changes have occurred over the years in our county. Growth necessitated 
these changes. We would be remiss if mention was not made of the faithful 47 
years of service by one, Alfred Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins guided the municipality 
through many rough and smooth seas until his retirement in December 1978, 
followed by the then secretary treasurer of the county Mr. K.E. Thomlinson.

Mr. Bev Facey, for whom the county's newest composite high school is named, 
served the school board for 15 years as superintendent of schools.

Growth of the county and Fort Saskatchewan again necessitated additional members 
no only in the area of elected representation but also in staff. In 1975 
underthe leadership of Dr. Gordon Rancier, superintendent of schools, positions 
of deputy superintendent and four assistant superintendents were put in place. 
It was during this time the new county administration offices were being built 
in Sherwood Park and finally at the end of October 1976 the move was made from 
offices which had been occupied since 1962 to the new offices at 2001 Sherwood 
Drive in Sherwood Park. It was not long before they were busting at the seams 
again and now some of the departments are located outside the main building.

The county is also proud of its own ambulance se-vice operated by our County 
Fire Department; olympic-size swimming pool located in Sherwood Park; municipal 
library which commenced operation on February 14, 1977; excellent recreation 
facilities including 560 acres of parkland east of Ardrossan -	Strathcona 
Wilderness Centre - which was opened officially by the former Lieutenant 
Governor of Alberta, the Honourable Grant MacEwan, on September 25, 1982.

In 1981 the senior municipal administration was completely re-organized and in 
the faIl of 1981 the County hired a Chief Commissioner, I. Frank Markson and 
three associate commissioners. A brief brochure put out by the County early in 
1982, states the following:

"The County of Strathcona may be younger than many of its counterparts in 
Alberta, but it has always accepted the challenge of change, particularly when 
it meant improved services to the taxpayers."

It made history once again in March, as county council and board of education 
held concurrent meetings (one half day per month) designed to improve county 
affairs in the future. At the beginning of 1982, certain municipal and 
educational functions were incorporated into a new county organizational 
structure. This also saw a corporate committee and functions merge as part of 
the county organization. Both municipal and educational functions were meeting 
together as a corporate group to consider policies and programs.

Recommendations from elected representatives on the corporate services committee 
reflected mutual discussion and consensus on the part of both groups. It was 
felt that a concurrent meeting of council and board of education was the next 
logical step. The county approached Alberta municipal affairs, who agreed with 
the county's suggestion that in order to avoid duplication of effort, that 
council and board of education meet concurrently as a council and a board."

In the beginning of this account the county was referred to as an involved and 
vibrant community. Nowhere was this more evident than during the county's recent 
fight against the City of Edmonton, in their attempt to wipe the County of 
Strathcona from the face of the map with their application to annex the whole 
area to their fair city. As everyone knows, we did not lose that fight. The 
involvement of everyone, from industry, business, residents, elected officials, 
school children and staff, all pulled and worked together to keep us a viable 
county.

The council has decided for the present time, that no redistribution of county 
division boundaries will take place and elected representation will remain at 8 
councillors.

The county expects to continue to face the challenges of the future and to 
provide alternative life styles for those coming into our county and for those 
who elect to remain with us.

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