Wallace family

by Marion Jensen pg 781 More Big Hill Country 1945-1980

In August of 2005, the Wallace family celebrated the 100th anniversary of the farm started by grandparents, Sarah and William Wallace. Our grandparents were among those flocking to the west to prove up on homesteads: the population of Alberta (then the Northwest Territories) quintupled from 1900 to 1910. 

William had put a down payment on a quarter section Sec 12 Twp 25 Range 4 W5M in 1902. His mortgage was held by the North of Scotland Canadian Mortgage Company that handled Canadian Pacific Railway land sales. He paid 8 1/2% interest on land in what was then the Northwest Territories. 

However, it wasn’t until 1905 they sold their little farm near Pakenham in Lanark County, Ontario, and William, loading a boxcar with settler’s effects, headed west. Sarah and the two boys, Harris and Willie, stayed with relatives until William found a farmhouse just west of where the Springbank United Church now stands. They settled there because the Brushy Ridge land had no buildings or houses. William spent the winter hauling hay to feed his cattle five miles to the west. The winter of 1906 was so mild he rarely needed gloves but the winter of 1907 was a different story and his moustache would be a frozen mass when he returned from feeding his livestock. 

The two boys went to school at Springbank until the family moved to the Brushy Ridge land in 1907. The first buildings were of log construction, the house and hen house had sod roofs and they hauled their water from a nearby spring with horse and stoneboat. The house, which still stands, although renovated in the 1960s, was built in 1907 with lumber William hauled from Quigley’s mill north of Cochrane. Carpenters Bill Coates and Bob Anderson earned $2.00 per day! 

The barn was added a couple of years later. In the early 1930’s son, William (Bill) added a cow barn to the south side of the building his Dad had erected, and the original was used as a horse barn. One hundred years later both are still in good condition. 

After marrying Nora Callaway in 1929, Bill and Nora milked cows, shipping cream to Cochrane and to Model Dairies in Calgary. The cream was picked up and delivered to the city by brother-in-law Johnny Arnell who would often pick up grocery orders from William’s Brothers on his return trip. As did most families in the community, Nora and Bill kept chickens, a few turkeys and some range cattle in addition to the small dairy herd. Cows were milked by hand and the cream separator was operated by hand. Electricity arrived in the mid-forties. 

In 1929 William made his last delivery of hay to a livery stable in Calgary by team and wagon. 

Bill and Nora had five children: Marion (Jensen), Kathleen (Beynon), Donna (Morris), Nora Lea (Sinclair), William. Nora Lea died in 1995. The children rode to school at Brushy Ridge until grade nine when they were sent to Calgary high schools. Although there were high schools at Cochrane and Springbank, roads were too bad for school buses. The school division paid the tuition but board and room were the family’s responsibility. 

The farm is now operated by the third generation of the family, William (Bill) Wallace, his wife Kristin and their two daughters, Sarah and Lesley. 

The centennial of the province, coinciding with the farm’s 100th anniversary, created an opportunity to look back and to appreciate the contribution our grand parents, parents and the pioneers of the community made to the history of Alberta. Sarah and William were born just a few years before Confederation and could never have imagined in those horse and buggy days the changes that have occurred in 138 years. They would be amazed to see Calgary and acreage development swallowing up viable farm land. Where once there was a thriving dairy industry, only one operation remains. Much of Springbank is in acreages or commercial development. 

The Wallace farming history that goes back to County Connaught in Ireland will end too. Nora and Bill’s children are the fourth generation Canadian on that side of the family: our great-great-grandparents, Andrew and Isabella, immigrated in the early 1800s to farm in Lanark County, Ontario. Of all their descendants, most of whom farmed, only Bill Wallace remains in the business, and the farm William and Sarah began will soon disappear as the city encroaches more and more on rural land. 


The Wallace Farm 100 Years By Kathleen Beynon 

The Wallace family celebrated the one-hundredth anniversary of the farm their grandparents homesteaded in August of 2005. Sarah and William came west from Lanark, Ontario in 1905, the same year Alberta became a province. 

A group of Edmonton journalists published a book called “Alberta, One Hundred Years a Home”. The picture on the dust cover is a picture of the Wallace Family: William (son of Sarah and William), Kathleen, Donna, Nora Lea, William Jr. Marion and Mother (Nora) are missing. The dog’s name was Jelly Beans. 

The descendants of William and Nora Wallace are all still living in Alberta, except one. Carla Beynon lives in Regina and is an Anchor for CTV, but she is still an Alberta-wanna-be. Alberta is definitely a hundred years a home for our family. 


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