The “Mayor of Enchant” steps aside

The Calgary Herald reports that Alberta’s longest serving municipal politician has called it quits. Cecil Wiest of Enchant, a councillor for Division 6 in the M.D. of Taber, is stepping aside after 46 years of service. Before he goes, the “Mayor of Enchant” offers some sage advice for those who follow him:

Indeed, the axiom that all politics is local couldn’t be more true than in this agricultural hub in the heart of southern Alberta.

Councillors can’t hide from a bad decision in hamlets of a couple hundred people.

“Just remember who put you in,” lectures Wiest, speaking the next day at the kitchen table of his Enchant home.

“It wasn’t yourself, your wife or your family,” Wiest said. “It was really the people that put you in there. You need to remember, you listen to them. They come first. I was put in there by the people, for the people.”

Today’s politicians would do well to remember this.

“This village is being disorganized”

Bow City c. 1917. Note the Big Bow Bar U ranch on the river flats along the north bank of the Bow.
By September 1916 officials in Edmonton had opted to pull the plug on the village of Bow City. In a letter dated September 8, Deputy Minister Jno. Perrie asked A.D. Fidler to “go into the matter with the ratepayers sometime before the end of the year so that the necessary arrangements can be made for the disorganization of the Village which seems the only thing that can be done”.

Piercing allegations sunk Bow City’s chief booster

A 1917 publication by the Conservative Party of Saskatchewan outlining the transgressions of H.C. Pierce & Co.
1916 was a bad year for Herbert Chandler Pierce.
As the year drew to a close the village that Pierce had once promoted so vigorously now appeared on the verge of extinction. As the residents of Bow City dispersed like tumbling kochia weed, thoughts of the little outpost on the prairie were likely the furthest thing from mind of the politician, farmer and real estate agent from Wadena, SK.
Earlier that year, Pierce was being implicated at the centre of a bribery scandal that threatened to bring down the Liberal government in Saskatchewan of which he was a sitting member.

Exodus

Caption from photo: "Loads of coal leaving by horse and wagon Bow City, Alberta." While this photo is dated c.1935, Setters on the Bow shows a photo of the same team dated 1919. Glenbow Archives NA-1308-42
The exodus from the Village was swift and unrelenting. By 1916 only the Bow City Trading Company, Campbell Bros. Hardware, Brewer’s Livery Stable, the post office and seven houses remained in the village. Even the newly–elected secretary-treasurer of the village, former lumber merchant “Colonel Sam” S.E. Armstrong, plied his trade down the trail in Retlaw. The situation was so utterly hopeless that in 1916, the village neglected to conduct a census, lest the virtually non-existent status of the community become know.