The iconic post office in Monitor.
Plaque at a park next to Monitor Hall, commemorating the Canadian centennial.

Monitor started its life as a settlement on the land of Mr. C.W. Beesley.

According to “A treasure of memories”, a handful of enterprising settlers had exercised “squatters rights” on Mr. Beesley’s land, founding a community known as “Empress”.

A tenacious threesome opened a grocery store, butcher shop, and real estate agency on Beesley’s quarter in about 1911, in anticipation of a new rail line coming through the area.

Mr. Beesley possessed a bit of an entrepreneurial streak himself, and was apparently known for selling shoes. He also appears to have been a bit of an odd duck as well, as local legend has it they were “all for the one foot”.

As rail made its way east from Consort, the Canadian Pacific Railway came to an agreement with Beesley to purchase his townsite for the princely sum of $800.

However, upon accepting the cheque he proceeded to insert his foot into his mouth, demanding the town be named “Beesleyville”, and that there be no hotel permitted in the townsite.

So enraged were the locals with this development that one hotfooted it into Provost to put a stop payment on the cheque.

Dreams of Beesleyville now dashed, a new townsite was subsequently purchased a hop, skip, and a jump away for $200 less than the original, and Beesley’s townsite was quickly vacated for the new Empress.

In another twist, the new settlement got off on the wrong foot when they were informed that the name “Empress” was already taken. The locals, refusing to be caught flatfooted, stepped up and selected “Monitor” as the name of their community, after a village where one of the community fathers had stayed in England.

(This article is a continuation of a series based on photos taken during the 2021 Forgotten Alberta Road Trip – #FABTrip21)

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