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COUNTY OF THORHILD No.7 - 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
The county was organized on January 1, 1955, following an application by the
Board of Trustees of Thorhild School Division No. 57. The total area is
approximately 25 townships and includes 46 organized small school districts. It
extends from township 58 in the South, to the middle of township 63 in the
North. The east and west boundaries run approximately from the middle of range
23 on the west side, to range 19 on the east, all west of the 4th meridian. The
office is located in the Village of Thorhild. The county is divided into
division, each represented by a council member who is elected for a three-year
term on a rotation basis. The reeve, who also acts as chairman for the meetings,
is chosen by the members at its annual organizational meeting held each year in
The following is a brief history of events leading up to the County
organization. Thorhild School Division No. 57 was organized January 1, 1947 with
Mr. R. J. Scott as Official Trustee and Mr. Ernest Meaden as Secretary Pro.
tern. The first board was sworn into office March 5, 1947 and consisted of
Messrs. William J. Klufas as Chairman, Steve Radomsky as Vice-Chairman, Fred
Malowany. A.A. Eckert, and Joseph Polanski. The Board decided to locate its
office in a private house in the Village of Thorhild. There were 18 applications
for the position of Secretary-Treasurer and out of these Mr. R. Baker was
finally chosen for the position which he held until September 30, 1947. Mr. B.
Walker was appointed Superintendent of Schools on behalf of the Department of
Education. Besides the usual business of the Board, the Minutes show that a
considerable amount of time and many problems involved the operation of the
small school districts in the area and the dormitory at Radway. A resolution was
also passed on June of 1947 "to write a letter to Alberta Government Telephones
pointing out the urgent necessity of a telephone in the Divisional Office."
Mr. I. Goresky was appointed Superintendent of Schools as from September 1, 1947
and he continued in this position until September 1966. Mr. John L. Wynnychuk
was appointed Secretary-Treasurer of the Division as from September 1, 1947 and
he continued in this position until the County organization in 1955. A new
School Division office was built in 1949.
The Division area was in the Smoky Lake School Division prior to its formation
in 1947, however, following the passing of the County Act in 1950, the Board was
anxious to have the Thorhild School Division remain as a local governing area to
provide better education and especially to improve roads, since the Division
boundaries were in the Municipal Districts of Westlock, Sturgeon, and Smoky Lake
and a Local Improvement District for Municipal purposes. The only alternative
was to apply for County status.
A considerable amount of interest was generated in the county operations and the
general business demanded by the ratepayers to be carried out by the new county
officials early in 1955. Mr. Leo Maurice, Inspector with the Department of
Municipal Affairs was appointed Official Administrator while Mr. J.L. Wynnychuk
continued as Secretary-Treasurer pro tern. Mr. Sidney J. Gee was appointed
assessor. The Organizational meeting of the new Council was held in the Thorhild
Community Hall on March 15, 1955, as a public gathering and at which the
following were present: the Hon. E.W. Hinman, Minister of Municipal Affairs; Mr.
J. Judge, Deputy Minister; Mr. Peter Chaba, M.L.A.; Mr. A. Aloisio, M.L.A.;
Returning Officer, Mr. W. Smith; Mr. Alex Myroon, as School Representative from
Redwater; Mr. Walter Home, School Representative from Thorhild Village; and, Mr.
Leo Maurice as Official Administrator. The following newly elected Council
members were sworn into office:
Division 1 - Mike Hrynchuk, Redwater, who was sworn as Chairman
2 - Charles Polanski, Radway
3 - William Ewasiw, Egremont
4 - Bill Sauchuk, Weasel Creek
5 - Phillip Kassain, Thorhild
6 - Adolph A. Eckert, Newbrook
7 - Herbert Hissett, Newbrook
A Public Works Committee was formed, However, since 1956 this committee has not
existed and all public works business is dealt with by the County Council at its
The school committee consists of all members of the county council plus
representatives from the Villages of Radway and Thorhild. The agricultural
committee consists of all council members with Mr. John Vanderleest, District
Agriculturist, representing the department.
Following settlement of Assets and liabilities with the surrounding
municipalities in 1955 the county proceeded with its own administration and has
gone a long way in building and improving roads in the area. Further
centralization of small schools became an important order of business and a
responsibility of the School Committee. Each school closing generally preceded a
considerable amount of opposition for reasons of local pride and continuation of
existing community life. In fact the closing of Egremont four-rooms was opposed
to an extent whereby a short lived R.C. Separate School District was operated
and the ratepayers opposing the closing "sparked" a petition to vote against the
county system of government. The County Act was set up that, following four
years of operation, the ratepayers could demand a vote on the question, "Do you
favour the continuation of the county form of Government?" The plebiscite was
held on March 21,1959 and resulted in 809 voting "yes" and 142 voting "no". This
was the first test in the province and a good indication for the Government that
the County system should be encouraged.
Comparison of the assessments, mill rate and tax levy:
YEAR ASSESSMENT MILL RATE TAX LEVY
1977 23,015,260. 86 1,822,518.
1978 8,826,700. 96 726,100.
1979 9,068,450. 100 797,839.
1980 9,151,010. 121 963,896.
1981 9,532,100. 135 1,081,566.
The need for remodelling the existing office, originally built as a school
division office in 1949, was discussed by the council from time to time but no
changes were made. However, following a major fire in the office on Boxing Day,
1962, and a second smaller fire almost a year later, a complete renovation and
alteration of the building was carried out and a large addition constructed.
While the present office is not of the "gilt-edged" variety, all departments of
the county administration including the Sturgeon Health Unit office, the
district agriculturists' offices, Alberta Hail & Crop Insurance office and
Alberta Agriculture loans officers' office, are now housed in the one building.
At the present time schools for grades 1 to 12 are operated at Thorhild,
Newbrook and Radway with a total enrollment of 844.
Special mention is made of Charlie Croswell who passed away on August 11, 1981
after serving for the county during the years of 1970-76. Present council:
Division - 1 - John Small, Radway, Alberta
2 - Kathleen Clarke, Thorhild, Alberta
3- Steve Shwetz, Waskatenau, Alberta
4- Davie Barnes, Thorhild, Alberta
5- Nick Lazowski, Newbrook, Alberta
6- Ted Bencharski, Thorhild, Alberta
Radway Village - Rosemary Mahalingham
Thorhild Village - Julia Wohland
Mr. Steve Shwetz is reeve of the county while Mr. John Small is chairman of the school committee and Mr. Ted Bencharski is chairman of the agricultural service board.
General administration and office:
Superintendent of Schools - Roman A. Wiznura
Coordinator of Special Services - John S. Clarke
Assessor - C. Doucet of Doucet Appraisals
Agricultural Fieldman - Jim Horricks
District Agriculturist - John Vanderleest
Secretary to District Agriculturist - Carol Sauchuk
Supervisor of School Maintenance - Mike Prodaniuk
Secretary-Treasurer - David C. Petroski
Assistant Secretary-Treasurer - Leo Larose
Payroll Clerk - Shelly Rettman
Accounts payable Clerk- Karen Short
School Superintendent's Secretary - Linda Horyn
Gas Steno - Judy Toronchuk
Steno - Anne Woytenko
Steno - Doris Clarke
Public Works Shop steno - Carol Rusinko
Utilities Officer - Mike Dukewich
Gas Serviceman - Bob Bencharski
Recreation Director - James Warner
Recreation Secretary - Joan Golonowski
By-Law Enforcement Officer - Russ Rosenthal - appointed in 1977
In 1974 the County of Thorhild No. 7, plowed in a county owned gas system. To
date we have approximately 1179 customers, most of whom were on the system by
1976. Our franchise area extends to areas in the County of Athabasca and
Municipal District of Sturgeon.
In 1977, the Municipal District of Sturgeon annexed Division One (Redwater Area)
from the County of Thorhild No.7. This annexation resulted in a 14.2 million
decrease in our assessment.
The County of Thorhild constructed a new public works shop in 1977. It is
located directly east of the Village of Thorhild on a quarter section of land
which the county purchased for this purpose.
Construction of water and sewer system began in 1977 for the Hamlet of Newbrook
and sewer system in 1981 for the Hamlet of Egremont.
In 1980 the County of Thorhild built a fire hall in the Hamlet of Newbrook. They
purchased three fire trucks; one to be house in the Newbrook fire hall, one in
the Thorhild fire hall and one in the Radway fire hall.
Landowners along the Namepi - Kennedy Creek have always experienced severe
flooding problems. In l977, the county council initiated through Alberta
Environment, a dredging and channel clearing project thus improving the
productivity of the affected areas.