Tag Archives: Retlaw

Search for grandfather’s story turns up Ranching roots of C.Y. School


C.Y. School, circa 1917
– Photo courtesy of Sandra Martin Guymon.

The subject of the email was “Re: C.Y. District school”.

Sandra Guymon, the director and sole employee of a “very very very small library” in upstate New York, was searching for information about this curiously named district in southern Alberta.

 “My Grandfather Duncan Lorne Martin was a school teacher at C.Y. District school. I have some photos from about 1917. I know he lived in Taber Alberta, but I don’t know anything about the C.Y. district, and can’t seem to find anything about it on the internet.”

Duncan L. Martin enlisted with the 49th battalion Edmonton, Canadian Expeditionary Force, during the First World War. 
– Photo courtesy of Sandra Martin Guymon.

As Guymon explained, Martin was a native of Tottenham, Ontario, who came west around 1917 to teach at C.Y. School, northwest of the town of Taber. Martin enlisted with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment towards the end of the First World War, returning to the C.Y. district in 1919.

Martin initially boarded with the Garrett and Wilhelmina Gertzen family, who lived on a farm near the school, and later married Wilhelmina following the couple’s divorce. In 1926, the Martins moved to another farm in the area, where they would eke out a living for over a decade.

According to Guymon, Duncan and Wilhelmina enjoyed some success during the wetter years of 1927-28, before eventually being driven off the land in 1937, victims of the twin economic and ecological disasters known today as the Great Depression and the Dirty Thirties.

After returning to Tottenham, Martin worked for a time in the post office before hiring on as construction labourer at Camp Borden, where army and flight training was undertaken for the Canadian armed forces during the Second World War. He was hospitalized in April 1940 when a trench he was working on caved in. Shortly afterwards he suffered a brain aneurysm, and passed away at the age of 49.

Some 80 years later, Guymon is seeking to learn more about her intrepid grandfather’s western adventures, and the country her father and grandparents called home.

“I hope they might start up a conversation!” she added.

As it turns out, the origin of the C.Y. is rooted in southern Alberta ranching history.

Both the C.Y. school and district derive their name from the C.Y. Ranch, which was established in the late 19th century along the Belly (now Oldman) River, north of what is now Taber.

Continue reading Search for grandfather’s story turns up Ranching roots of C.Y. School

Bow City getting village status historical marker

Good news everyone! From the Brooks Bulletin, intrepid scribe Rob Brown informs the masses that the Province of Alberta has approved Vulcan County’s application for a historical marker at the site of the former Village of Bow City (reproduced below).

A big thank you is owed to Liza Dawber and Vulcan County for their work approving and submitting the Heritage Marker application, and the community partners who supported the application.

Bow City getting village status historical marker

Just in time for next week’s 100th anniversary of becoming a village, Bow City has been awarded a historical marker noting the fact.
On July 13, 1914 Bow City was incorporated as a village.

Last week, Jonathan Koch, an avid historian working on the recognition project, said the province notified him a marker is forthcoming.

He says it is important to recognize the past.

“We certainly do run the risk of losing our history if these aren’t marked and people aren’t doing the work,” he says.

Continue reading Bow City getting village status historical marker

Bow City – The village born unlucky

Many thanks to the Historical Society of Alberta, and the legendary Mr. Hugh Dempsey, CM, for the opportunity to share a decade’s worth of research on the former village of Bow City. Below is the piece in its entirety in the Winter 2012 edition of Alberta History:

Bow City Alberta History (Refresh if iFrame does not appear)