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COUNTY OF LACOMBE NO. 14 - Excerpts taken from the "Story of Rural Municipal
Government in Alberta 1909 to1983" by the Association of the Municipal
Districts and Counties
Contributed for use in Alberta Digital Archives by Darlene Homme
Minutes from local governments commence in 1904 for the area now within the
County of Lacombe No. 14. These local governments consisted of four township
local improvement districts. It is known that some local government did
exist in the area prior to 1904 by minute reference or a later date to
taxes in 1902 and 1903.
The area later estabished as enlarged Local Improvement District No. 398
and then the Municipal District of Lamerton No. 398 originated with the
four township L.l.D.'s No. 20-R-4, 21-R-4, 20-S-4 and 21-S-4. The councillors
of these L.l.D.'s in 1909 were; C. Stoddard, AIix; H. Hickling, Alix; WM.
Scott, Lamerton; Phillip Neis, Lamerton; Win. Stack, Content; G.K. Thompson,
Fountains Town; C.C. McDermand, Alix; J.L. Walters, Tees; Percy Walter,
Tees; B.F. Allison, dive; Win. Weatherill, Tees; and C.F. Thompson, Clive.
The Municipal District of Crown No.399 originated with the four L..ID.'s
20-T-4, 21 -T-4, 20-W-4, and 21 -W-4. The following councillors are listed
for the L.ID.'s: F.A. Gralapp. Lacombe; J. Sharpe, Lacombe, E.J. Connell,
Lacombe; E.J. Jenkins, Canyon; A.J. Leslie, Lacombe; David Foren, Chigwell;
WH. Johnson, Morningside; S.H. Farewell, Blackfalds; J.J. Kasha, Lacombe;
Jas. Baron, Blackfalds; Win. Wiese, Bentley; Jas. Eadie, Lacombe; and Ole
The Municipal District of Lorne No. 400 originated with the four township
L.I.D.'s 20-A-5, 21-A-5, 20-B-5 and 21-B-S. The following councillors are
listed for the L.l.D.'s: M.R. McMahon, Blackfalds; H.A. Brownlow, Bentley;
R. Stopsen, Sylvan Lake; C.O. Vig, Bentley; C.H. Whitworth, Bentley; J.W
Robson, Lockhart; A.E.T. Eckford, Evarts; J. Dekkar, Eckville, and Frank
In the years prior to 1913 it is evident that individual councillors deeply
resented any interference in their respective townships as shown in the
following motions taken from the minutes of a meeting held January 17,
1907: "Resolved that all taxes collected remain in their respective
divisions." Carried unanimously. "Resolved that every councillor have
charge of all work in his respective division and that all cash collected
be expended according to his own judgement." Carried unanimously.
Two other motions passed in 1904 and 1905 are of interest: "Moved that
taxpayers in Divisions 1,2 and 4 be allowed to work out all their taxes
and that Division 3 taxpayers be allowed to work out $4.75 on each quarter,
and pay $1.25 in cash on each quarter." Carried. "Moved that this council
repudiates the practice of the government in placing public monies
appropriated for road expenses in the hands of private individuals who
cannot be held responsible to the taxpayer for the disbursement of same
and that we recommend that all money granted by the Department of Public
Works for road purposes shall be placed to the credit of the respective
local improvement districts to be disbursed by the councillor of the said
districts who is the representative of the people in such matters." Carried.
Taxes for 1907 were levied at the rate of 31/2 cents per acre and by 1910
they had risen to Scents per acre. Road crews were paid at the rate of 20
cents per hour for a man and 40 cents per hour for man and team. Councillors
received $2.00 per day plus 10 cents per mile for travel. Jas. Eadie was
authorized to attend the L.I.D. convention in Calgary November 27-28, 1911
and was allowed $4.00 for expenses.
These small improvement districts were cancelled by Order-In-Council No.
124/12 dated December 23, 1912, and were incorporated in the larger
improvement districts No. 398 and 400, and came into being January 1, 1913.
The first councillors were:
No.398-Chairman, B.F. Allison; WJ. Carroll, Alix; R. W C. Wilson, Alix;
WE. Ross; Win. Weatherill, Tees; Jas. J. Cairns, Mirror; R Russell,
No. 399- Chairman, Jas. Sharp, Lacombe; J.M. Williams, Blackfalds; J.J.
Kasha, Lacombe; J.L. Storey, Lacombe; D. Foren, Chigwell; Jas. Eadie,
Lacombe; E. Walter Simpson, secretary-treasurer. (Mr. Simpson continued
as secretary-treasurer until 1942).
No. 400- Chairman, WJ. Robson, Lockhart; H. Talson, Eckville; Isaac Niemi,
Eckville; George Fraser, Lockhart; C.H. Whitworth, Bentley; SE. McKee,
secretary-treasurer. (J.G. Evernden of Bentley was appointed secretary-
treasurer in 1914 and continued until 1927).
By this time, the taxes had increased to 61/4 cents per acre and councillors
were being paid $3.00 per day for meeting, and road inspection time had
been increased to 12 days.
Council of L.I.D. No. 400 passed the following motion: "Resolved that resident
ratepayers be allowed the opportunity to work out their taxes and that
non-resident ratepayers be compelled to pay in cash." Divisional accounts
were evident in 1915 when a motion was passed that all bills be forwarded
(paid) first in divisions that had money to their credit in the bank and
that $200.00 be borrowed from the Merchants Bank with $50.00 being charged
to Division 5 and $1S0.00 to Division 6. Under date of March 20, 1915, a
motion appears in the minutes of council of L.I.D. No.400 striking off
the assessment roll all arrears of taxes for the years 1902 and 1903.
Written in blue pencil on the margin and initialled by the municipal
inspector were the words "cannot be done."
Municipal government by the local improvement districts spanned the period
from 1913 to 1918 and was one of steady progress in road construction.
Better and more effective machinery was acquired and many roads were opened.
General use of the automobile created a demand for all-weather roads.
The municipal districts of Lamerton No. 398, Crown No. 399 and Lorne No.
400 were established March 1, 1918 by authority of chapter 49 of the
Statutes of Alberta. First councillors were as follows:
No. 398- Reeve, Thos. J. Ross, Clive; B.F. Allison, Clive; J.E. Merrifield,
Alix; C.S. Tallman, Alix; RM. Jewell, Mirror; M.A. McMillan, Tees; R. Russell,
No.399-Reeve. J.M. Douglas, Lacombe; R.M. Gibson, Lacombe; A. R Rainforth,
Lacombe; John Lickerby, Lacombe; R McLennan, Blackfalds; Jas. Sage, Clive;
E. Walter Simpson, secretary-treasurer.
No. 400 - Reeve, Geo. Fraser, Lockhart; N.A. Palm, Lockhart; Henry Talsma,
Eckville; J.E. Lundberg, Eckville; E.J.Wyatt, Bentley; C. H. Whitworth,
Bentley; J.G. Evernden, secretary-treasurer.
In 1918 the provincial government brought in the supplementary revenue tax.
This tax was levied by the municipalities and remitted to the provincial
treasurer at the end of each month.
Horizons were widening by 1919 as evidenced by a motion passed by the council
of the M.D. of Crown: "Resolved that council take steps to establish a
system of district highways, the same to be placed under the District
On September 6, 1919, a by-law was drafted to regulate the speed of
automobiles, not to exceed 30 miles per hour. About this time a number
of fresnos were purchased at $47.00 each and an Avery tractor for $5,100.
By 1921 taxes were ranging from 6 to 15 cents per acre and by 1922 taxes
were levied on an assessed value basis with the mill rate ranging from 5
to 6 mills. In 1925 the municipalities started collection of school tax
arrears and remitted the money collected to the various school districts.
Road construction showed steady progress. Many more new roads were opened
and some gravelling was done. The provincial government hard surfaced that
portion of the Calgary-Edmonton trail from Ponoka to Red Deer and this
road was then considered a super highway. The hard surface material was
shipped in from the McMurray tar sands and the road gave excellent service
for many years.
During the depression years of the '30's the municipalities made little
progress. Road construction was kept to a minimum and at the annual
meetings of the ratepayers, the chief topic of discussion was the
excessive amounts paid to the councillors and secretary. Any councillor
who wasted money maintaining a road into a summer resort subdivision
was severely censured.
Marked improvement in public health services in rural areas was brought
about when the Red Deer Health Unit was established in 1931. Municipalities
of Crown and Lorne were included in the health unit area.
Large school divisions came into being in 1936 after a great deal of
opposition from the school trustees association and the general public.
The enlarged districts had been suggested in the '20's by the Hon. Perrin
Baker, Minister of Education, but the idea was dropped because of public
January 1, 1944, the municipalities of Lamerton, Crown and Lorne were
amalgamated to form the enlarged Municipal District of Lacombe by order
of the provincial government. Mr. Bruce Ramsey was appointed administrator
until such time as a new council could be duly elected.
The new council consisted of five members, nominated by divisions but elected
by vote at large of the entire municipality. Those elected to the first
council which served for the years 1944, 1945, and 1946 were: Division 1
-James Docherty, Alix; Division 2 - Clifton Bailey, Lacombe; Division 3
-Marshall Douglas, Lacombe; Division 4-Harry Brownlow, Bentley; Division 5
-A.B. Haarstad, Bentley.
First meeting of the council was held in Lacombe in the office of the former
M.D. of Crown early in March 1944. Mr. Alfred Haarstad, who polled the
highest number of votes for councillor, was elected reeve. Mr. Haarstad had
served on the council of the M.D. of Lorne for 16 years and continued to
serve on the new council until his death in 1957.
HG. Hopkins, former secretary-treasurer of the M.D. of Lorne was appointed secretary-treasurer of the large municipality and Mr. R. Greene, former
secretary-treasurer of Lamerton and Mrs. S. Crosbie, former secretary
-treasurer of Crown, were appointed assistant secretaries.
Council chose Lacombe as the name of the municipality and Number 398 was
ordered by the Department of Municipal Affairs. The number was changed to
64 in 1945, due to a change in numbering methods by the department.
By unanimous vote council chose the former office of the M.D. of Crown in
Lacombe as the location of the office for the enlarged municipality.
Construction of a small addition to the office was authorized immediately.
Because of a small council chamber, delegations to meet with council were
limited to three or four persons.
It was soon evident that considerable change in office work and accounting
procedure would be necessary, so after full consideration council approved
the installation of a municipal accounting machine. This was only the second
such machine being used in a rural municipal office and it proved to be
very efficient and greatly simplified and speeded up accounting work. It
was heartily approved by the auditors.
One of the problems arising from the enlarged district was the need for larger
machines for higher standards of road construction and snow removal equipment
in order to keep the roads open in winter. This in turn led to the need for
an efficiently equipped repair shop as well as parking space for all the large
equipment. A repair shop was constructed on two lots in the Town of Lacombe
but before long it was realized that this shop was too small and the area did
not provide enough parking space so council authorized the purchase of an
area on the northern boundary of the Town of Lacombe, large enough to provide
plenty of space for repair shop, machinery parking lot, and municipal office.
A fully modern machinery repair shop was built on the new site in 1956. This
shop served the municipal district and county until 1982 when a major addition
was added to the existing building.
In 1945 council authorized the formation of the Agricultural Service Board.
Tribute should be paid to the first council of the large municipality. They
were all former councillors in the small municipalities and they faced a great
change in established methods and traditions. They faced these problems and
challenges with open minds, forgot personal feelings, and division boundaries
and made decisions beneficial to the municipality as a whole.
In 1954 council passed a by-law authorizing construction of a municipal office,
the cost not to exceed $75,000. This by-law was rejected by a vote of the
proprietary electors. By 1957, need for more office space was acute and in
the meantime the Municipal Districts Act had been amended to allow council
to build an office costing up to $50,000. without a vote of the proprietary
electors. An office was then built at a total cost of $42,000. An addition
was added in 1968 and this building currently provides the county office
On October31, 1959, in keeping with the demands of time, H.C. Hopkins retired
as secretary-treasurer, having served almost 33 years in municipal work-iS of
these with the M.D. of Lacombe.
In 1961 the municipality converted to the county system and was designated as
the County of Lacombe No. 14. The council was increased to seven and thus the
county was now made up of seven divisions.
The first council was made up as follows:
Chairman - Win. Lee, Lacombe; Arthur Wigmore, Blackfalds; Mrs. S. Atkinson,
Lacombe; Victor Johanson, Bentley; Hans Moos, Eckville; C. Parsons, Tees; J.A.
Town and Village representatives on the school committee were: Mr. J.S.
McCormick, Lacombe; Mrs. E. Somerville, Clive; and Mr. N. Forham, Eckville.
Special mention should be made here of the fact that Mrs. S. Atkinson holds
the honour of being the first lady elected to a rural council in this province.
With the transition to a county in 1961, the councillors found that the demand
on their time increased significantly as the whole council served on the school
committee. At the same time, the necessity for improved roads and services
became more urgent and it was evident that new positions should be created to
meet the need effectively. At first, broader responsibility had been given to
the road construction foreman. Then, in 1967, Norman Morrison was appointed
to the newly created position of public works supervisor. His duty was to
implement county policy and programs regarding construction and maintenance
of roads and to make recommendation to council regarding public works equipment.
The exploration for oil and subsequent industrialization in Alberta during the
three decades from 1950 to 1980 made a significant impact on rural municipalities.
A rush of ambitious developers promoting residential, recreational and industrial
projects increased the administrative load in the County of Lacombe and in 1970,
Ross Young, Assessor, was also appointed as a development officer and given
additional help with an assistant Assessor employed on a full time basis.
The pressure to subdivide farmland met increasing resistance from the council who
saw it as a threat to the agricultural industry. Particularly endangered were the
intensive livestock enterprises of which there were many within the county. In
order to effect control, a land use by-law was passed in 1970 which zoned the
county into districts that restricted the use of land therein to designated
purposes. In this manner, it was hoped that by careful planning, the stress of
conflicting uses in close proximity might be avoided.
The inevitable increase of traffic in rural areas forced a continual upgrading
of the roads to a higher standard. In responding to these needs, the council
established a county main road grid system complementary to the primary highway
and secondary road system. In 1971 a program of asphalt paving was commenced for
Through the years, the role of counciilor slowly changed. When the enlarged M.D.
of Lacombe was formed (1944), each councillor was the supervisor of all public
works in his own division. He determined which roads should be built or repaired
and hired or fired the part-time operators of the many small 'drags' and 'planers'
used to smooth the roads. He arranged for the placement and repair of culverts
and bridges. In addition, he was given a predetermined (by council) credit
allocation to be used specifically for gravelIing roads. In the early 1950's,
the allocation ranged from $12,000. to $15,000. annually. A great deal of his
time was taken by the breakdown or washout of old wooden and cement culverts.
Snow blocked roads, major problem in winter, were also the responsibility of
the local councillor.
The inability of this system to cope with increasing demand was soon apparent
and during the later 1 950's,the 'allocation' practice was discontinued. The
council then introduced the custom of making an annual tour of the municipality
to look at the various councillors' proposed construction projects and any
other particular concerns of a municipal nature.
From this procedure the concept of a public works committee of council was
developed. The duty of the committee was to review the merits of all the
projects submitted and to priorize them according to need. They would then
develop a coordinated program so the work might be accomplished in the most
efficient manner, and submit a recommendation to council for approval. The
result was to make the council more of a unified policy-making body rather
than a loose confederacy of "kingdoms", greatly improving the economy and
effectiveness of the county government.
Summer residential development around the lakes accelerated rapidly during the
1960's and 1970's, prompting a request for the Red Deer regional planning
commission to make a special study of lake development. As a result, lakeshore
management plans were adopted for Sylvan Lake in 1977 and for Gull Lake in 1979.
The booming conditions of this period brought problems along with prosperity
and in 1962, the council found it advisable to employ a constable. In 1967, a
second man was added on a part-time basis. By 1982, these were both full time
A major industrial development was the focal point for some discontent when an
Alberta Gas Ethylene plant was built near Joffre. Local roads were subjected
to extreme use during the construction period and deteriorated rapidly. The
construction of secondary road No. 597 in 1978 came somewhat belatedly to
relieve the situation. The Alberta Gas Ethylene plant was built in the period
1976 to 1979.
The proposal to build additional plants by Alberta Gas Ethylene, coinciding
with an application to rezone to industrial a site for Union Carbide's
Ethylene GlycoI plant north of Prentiss stirred considerable local opposition.
This took place in 1980 and sparked the formation of PAL (Preserve Agricultural
Land), organized to oppose further industrialization in that part of the
county or on a good class soil anywhere. After an exhaustive public hearing,
the council carefully weighed all the pros and cons, decided that the benefits
outweighed the disadvantages and approved the application. However, an
attempt was made to alleviate the concerns raised during the hearing by
insisting on prior construction of eight miles of paved road south from
highway No. 12 to secondary road No. 597 to serve the plant. Stringent
requirements were put into the development agreement to preserve good
soil and minimize disturbance of the rural environment.
By 1982, industrial expansion in Alberta had almost come to a standstill. It
seemed to mark the end of an era in the history of the county.
In 1982, the county population was 8,873. There were 140 miles of provincial
highway; 101 miles of secondary road; 84 miles of county paved roads; and
1570 miles of gravelled county roads.
The ratio of assessment was: Farmland, 28.7%; Residential, 12.2%; Industrial,
33.2%; Commercial, 1.6%; other, 24.3%.
Thefollowing is a listing of councillors holding officethrough the years:
Lamberton Whitworth, C.H. 1918
Carter, L.V. 1931-36 Wyatt, E.J. 1918-20
Cockrall, C. 1931-37 Crown
Ditto, A.G. 1931-40 Armstrong, M. 1933-43
Docherty Jas. 1938-43 Bailey, C. 1942-43
Hecht, H. 1936-43 Bradley, J.A. 1922-29
Keeton, J.A. 1942-43 Crooker, J. 1920-21
Neis, G. 1931-43 Douglas, M. 1916-19
Reynolds, J.H. 1938-40 Eadie, J. 1913-15
Sherbourne, E.G. 1931-37 Evans, H.J.A. 1917
Spink, D. 1941-43 Ellis, J. 1923-28
Walker, D.C. (1936 ) Foren, D. (1913-17)
Weatherill, W (1931-35) Gibson, R. 1918-26
(1937 ) Gralapp,F. 1917
(1940-43) HaIl, A. 1930-43
Lorne Hand,G. 1923-41
Bardenhagen, O. 1931-39 Hedemark, O. 1919-2 1
Begert, W. J. 1921-28 Heuppelheuser, Q.W 1931-39
Brownlow, H.A. (1916-17) Ironsides, E. 1940-43
(1925-43) Kasha,J. 1913
Burger, S. 1916-17 Lockerbie, J. 1918
Eckford, A.E.T. 1916-17 Miller, F.H. 1914-15
Fraser, Geo. (1916-18) Maddox, L. 1919-22
(1930-43) Madden, M. 1923-30
Haarstad, A.B. (1924-30) Morrical, W.J. 1922-23
(1932 ) McLennan, R (1916-18)
Hoglund, A. (1936-43) (1922
(1921-22) Parker, Wm. 1929-43
(1929-30) Rainforth, A.R 1916-20
Ignatius, Geo. 1932-35 Roberts, J.F. 1919
Jaffray, Jas. (1919-20) Ross, J. 1938-43
(1922-29) Sage, Jas. 1918-19
Kasper, Chas. 1923-28 Sawyer, B.A. 1929-30
Lundberg, J.E. 1918-20 Sharp, J. 1913-16
Maki, Gust (1922-29) Sissons, J. 1924-27
(1936-43) Southward, J.M. (1914-16)
Peterson, H.C. (1929-43) (1928
Palm, N.A. 1916-22 Stewart, F.B. 1930-37
Robson, J.W 1932-35 Williams 1913
Scown, M. 1940-43 No Record of Dates
Skjonsberg, H. 1919 Gillies, Wm.
Slaughter, P. 1919-24 Merrifield, J.
Talson, H. (1916-18) Stevenson, H.
(1920-21) Tallman, CS.
M.D. of Lacombe No. 64
(Statutory Year beginning April 3)
Division 1 Division 2
Jas. Docherty 1944-59 Clifton Bailey 1944-54
C.L. (Chuck) Parsons 1959-60 Sanford Leader 1954-56
Martin Oro 1956-60
Marshal Douglas 1944-52 Division 4
Mahlin Vauthrin 1952-56 Harry Brownlow 1944-46
Wm. Lee 1956-60 A.E. (Sandy) Freeman 1946-52
A.E. (Art) Wigmore 1952-60
Alfred B. Haarstad 1944-58 Reeves
Victor Johanson 1958-60 A.B. Haarstad 1944-58
A.E. Wigmore 1958-60