Frank and Kathleen Whittle Family

pg 803 More Big Hill Country 2009 Author uncredited

Frank Whittle was a native Albertan, born November 15, 1903, and was raised and spent his whole life here in the Cochrane area. Son of Earle and Letha Whittle of the Horse Creek District, he had a younger brother and sister, Fred and Eva. Two other children died at an early age. Frank was home schooled until he was eight years old when the Chapelton (Horse Creek) School was built in the district. He left school after grade eight to work on the family farm. 

About the time Frank was old enough to drive, the family bought a Model T car, but it didn’t replace a good saddle horse. Road building and repair was often done by local farmers, Frank being no exception. Some people paid their taxes by working on the roads. Frank enjoyed fishing and game bird hunting. Shearing sheep for themselves and the neighbours was one of his accomplishments. 

Road Crew

In winter months, Frank worked for John Boothby baling hay from stacks in the field and hauling it to customers. This involved long hours of heavy work. 

About 1926, Frank suffered a serious illness, a ruptured appendix that sent him to hospital. It was the cause of future bouts of sickness that plagued him in later years. While recovering from his illness Frank met his future wife, Kay Lundy, the new schoolteacher at Weedon School. 

Kay was born in Innisfail Alberta, on December 30, 1902. Her family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, and later to Sicamous, British Columbia as her father worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a lineman. This job involved numerous moves, which interrupted the children’s education. They were five years in North Bend and Kay spent her high school years in Enderby, British Columbia while staying with her grandparents. Her mother got tired of moving so Penticton, British Columbia was their final destination and where Kay finished high school. A job in a telephone office for a year enabled her to attend Normal School in Victoria, British Columbia, to become a teacher. 

Kay’s first job posting was at Valdez Island. She next taught at a Girl’s School in Vancouver, British Columbia. Along with a girlfriend Kay,  took a bold step and accepted a school in Alberta at a place north of Cochrane, Alberta called Weedon School. Here she rode a horse to school each day teaching grades one to nine in one room. After two years at Weedon, Kay transferred to Water Valley. Many years later Weedon School was moved to Heritage Park in Calgary as a historic building. 

Kay met Frank while going to dances in the area of Cochrane, Alberta. He had bought a 1926 Chevrolet Touring Car, to replace the horse, as a courting vehicle. 

The couple was married in 1929 in Kay’s family hometown of Penticton, British Columbia. Upon returning to Cochrane they took residence in a rented house which still stands today, 2008, below the hill north of highway 1A. 

Their first child, a son David was born in December 1930 with a brother Ray following in 1932. During this time they bought a partially finished house west of Cochrane’s original brick school. Some ten years after the boys were born a baby girl entered their lives. Joan became the center of attention for the Whittle family. The family lived in this home for many years, in fact until the children had grown up. It was next door to the school and its playground, the outdoor skating rink, the tennis courts, and the Church and close to downtown.

During the 1930s Frank and John Boothby formed a business partnership baling hay and hauling the hay and mine props to Drumheller. They brought back domestic coal for sale, starting a business that lasted until natural gas and propane came to the Cochrane area. 

By 1949, Frank had acquired the International Harvester Machinery and Truck Dealership and the B.A. Oil Sales from Robert Young. An insurance agency was also added This business was originally located next to the feed mill. North of the Cochrane Hotel. The building was later moved to a site on First Avenue across from Murray’s Blacksmith Shop. It was enlarged and a service shop was built on the back in about 1950. 

Frank served on the School Board and St. Andrew’s United Church Board. He was a Mason and Kay belonged to the Eastern Star. 

Winter social events included a six-couple bridge club meeting at everyone’s home once each season. There were always picnics in the summer and Sunday trips to the Family Farm in Horse Creek.

Whittle Implements 1960

Tragedy struck the family in 1956 when Frank died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of fifty-two years. 

The two boys, Dave and Ray, took over his business. Kay later moved to Calgary with daughter Joan and lived there in her own home until she was well into her nineties. Kay passed away in 2001. 

Dave and Ray were schooled in Cochrane and each spent a year at Mount Royal College to finish High School. Joan did much the same, going on to study art at the College of Art in Calgary in 1959. Upon graduating in Commercial Art she worked for Eaton’s Store in Calgary before she married Steve Fedoroshyn in 1964. Joan switched to Fine Arts while raising two boys. She is a member of the Alberta Society of Artists and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Color and continues to teach painting. She is a grandmother to four boys. 

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