History has always interested me, especially Western Canadian history, and our great province of Alberta. Since 1992 I have been involved with The Historical Society of Alberta and The Chinook Country Historical Society. Being a member of these societies has whetted my appetite for discovering more about this province of ours and Calgary in particular.
In 1903 my paternal grandparents, Thomas and Ella Patton, and their six children arrived from Edgar, Nebraska, U.S.A by cattle train to what was then the Northwest Territories. They initially homesteaded on 320 acres south of Calgary in the Red Deer Lake area. In 1910 the Pattons sold their homestead and bought 15 acres of prime market gardening land in the Belvedere Subdivision of Glenmore district (now part of the Pump Hill community). In 1919 my mother, Florence Smith, arrived in Montreal by steamer from her birthplace in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. Her destination was the Spenceley/Mills farm located on what is now the Eagle Ridge community in South Calgary - this gracious family having sponsored her immigration to Canada.
I was privileged to know many other pioneer families who had great stories, and who had ‘lived history’. Now I smile to myself when I realize that being in my late seventies I can qualify as having also ‘lived history’. It is interesting to note that the site where the original Patton farm house stood is now replaced by another Patton residence that was built in 1989 by my wife Bernie and I and in 2010 the Patton’s will have had a presence in the community for a century. Indeed, the gnarled old spruce trees that currently reside in Patton Park were planted by my grandparents shortly after 1910.
Some time ago my son, two daughters and wife ‘ganged up’ on me by requesting that I put down on paper my recollections of the past so they and our grandchildren could experience those old days. Well, as I scratched my head and further contemplated the situation, someone else arrived upon the scene. She came in the form of a charming young lady named Kathryn Chan who is the editor of Deer Neighbour, the community newsletter of the Palliser Bayview Pump Hill Community Association. Kathryn continued her gentle arm-twisting with the suggestion that I write a regular column in Deer Neighbour covering local history. And so it was in the January, 2005 issue of Deer Neighbour that Clancy’s Vignettes of the Past went to press.
Now that my family and Kathryn Chan had been placated, I felt that I could finally relax and pump out my required number of historic articles without any further interference. Well, that bit of nirvana came to a grinding halt one day when I received a telephone call from Jim Stephens who resides in the Pump Hill Community. Jim seemed to be impressed with my historic musings and wondered if I would be interested in having a website developed which would feature these articles. As I had only just entered into the mysteries of the technological age, a website suggested to me that it was a haven for spiders. Jim patiently explained the function of a website, and outlined how it could be an extremely handy tool in the dissemination of historic information. Jim’s son Craig then entered into the mix and all the complexities of planning and designing the website began. A mother and daughter team comprised of Marilyn Wood and Jennifer Farnell then arrived to assist Jim and Craig with the implementation of the website. This great team with their innovative ideas and hard work combined to create a special site.
An interesting component of the Calgary Memories website is that it will not contain only my reminiscences, but will welcome historic anecdotes, stories and photographs from others, thereby further enhancing its usefulness. To post your written contribution go to YOUR STORIES and then click on "Write your memories, anecdotes or stories" To submit a photo, or to ask a question you can click CONTACT to write to me directly. My thought is that contributions could primarily pertain to areas south of 50th Avenue S.W. (which at one time constituted Calgary’s southernmost boundary) By proceeding southward from 50th Avenue, many rural communities, which today are fully or partially developed as part of Calgary, will be able to have their past’s highlighted. I am thinking specifically of such districts as Glenmore (where I grew up), Midnapore, DeWinton, Red Deer Lake, Pine Creek and Priddis. However, other districts of Calgary and surrounding areas are certainly not excluded, and those stories will be most welcome.
It is with great excitement and some trepidation that I am embarking on the Calgary Memories.com website. This is quite a step for an old-timer like me with all these new-fangled contraptions to shepherd, but with the guidance of a lot of good people I’m sure I will survive. In closing I want to thank those responsible for this historic journey – to my wife Bernie; my daughters Chris and Carol and my son Mark for planting the seeds – to Kathryn Chan for tending the crops - and to Jim, Craig, Marilyn and Jennifer for harvesting the results.
Clarence (Clancy) Patton