Kinnondale

Kinnondale store and post office
Kinnondale store and post office c. 1912, original photo courtesy of Gordon McKinnon. Mr. McKinnon has identified the individuals as follows: (Left to right) Unknown (Possibly Robert McKinnon), Emily Florence McKinnon, Morley James McKinnon (in pram), Ian Crawford McKinnon, Marie McKinnon, and John Crawford (J.C.) McKinnon.

Located about thirty-five miles southwest of Brooks and twenty-five due south of Bassano, Kinnondale was, for a short time, the hub of what is now eastern Vulcan County.

Kinnondale was named after John Crawford McKinnon of Bruce, Ontario, one of the region’s first settlers. After homesteading in 1908, McKinnon opened the first store in the district and would lend his name to, and serve as postmaster for, the area’s first post office – “Kinnondale”. As settlers continued to pour into the region, the hopeful pioneers of the Kinnondale district petitioned the province for a school. On January 10, 1910, the Kinnondale School District No. 2096 was created by provincial Order-in-Council, with the school opening a year later in February, 1911.

The first settlers of the Kinnondale district were convinced they had laid claim to a land on the verge of greatness. In September, 1910, a correspondent for the Brooks Banner newspaper (later to become the Brooks Bulletin) penned an editorial introducing readers to the Kinnondale district:

…As an agricultural district Kinnondale is going to rank among the very best in Alberta. The soil is perfectly adapted to grain growing. Grain ripens here two weeks earlier than at Lethbridge, Granum or High River, consequently there is little or no danger from frost. Irrigation is unnecessary. Although very little grain was grown last year, it was of excellent quality, and the seed put into the ground last spring made a much better effort to grow than was made in many other districts.

During the last three weeks we have had an abundance of rain. In fact there is sufficient moisture in the ground right now to insure a good crop next year. Everyone who can is now plowing, discing and harrowing, preparing the ground so that seeding can be done as soon as the soil is fit in the spring. It takes more than one dry year to discourage a resident of Kinnondale. Although hard hit this year, no one is grumbling or discouraged, but on the contrary, is full of buoyancy and hope. We can’t sport an auto, but each has his motto; ‘Better luck next time’.

It did indeed take more than one dry year to discourage most residents of Kinnondale. However, with only a bumper harvest in 1915 to show for nearly a decade of backbreaking labour, the optimism of even the hardiest settlers began to wane. Even J.C. McKinnon, founding father of Kinnondale, began to see the writing on the wall. In the dry years following the First World War, McKinnon would move his store south one mile to the more heavily travelled “Bow City Road” (now Secondary Highway 539) where he would construct a hall, which was eventually sold and moved south to the community of Travers. Like most in the district, the enterprising McKinnon eventually gave up on Kinnondale. In November of 1921, McKinnon and his family finally packed it in, moving on to what were hopefully greener pastures in the Rosebud area west of Drumheller. Better luck next time.

4 thoughts on “Kinnondale”

  1. J.C. McKinnon was my grandfather. Much of the information in this article I was unaware of. Do you have more information on my family? I have a few pictures of the family, one a family portrait taken before the Glenbow photo. My father Ian and his sister Marie are in the portrait but Morley is not (the baby in the store doorway). I will provide you with scans if you contact me. I thank you for the article it is found treasure for me.

  2. My grandfather, Ed Lowe, and his brother George, homesteaded near Travers. In his memoirs, Grandpa referred to “two uncles” who preceded him from Michigan to Alberta. I’ve found two Davis brothers, Emery and Gifford Davis (Grandpa’s mother’s maiden name was Davis) along with a cousin Harvey/Harry Davis in Kinnondale. I believe they may have been my grandfather’s uncles: both returned to the US eventually. Any information on these men would wonderful.

  3. I LOVE your blog and the comments your posts often get from relatives of early Alberta pioneers.

    Awhile back I stumbled on the old Botha General Store counter for sale in the “Snack Shak” in Halkirk. I don’t think we’ve traveled through Botha and wondered if the old store is still in the village. Do you know?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>