As I indicated in a previous post, my grandfather, James Pearson Shepheard, was born in Torquay, Devon, England on March 12, 1891 and came to Canada in 1907. He spent a short time working on a farm in Ontario, presumably to pay off his fare over to Canada, and then moved west to settle in Alberta.
With his familiarity with horses – he had helped out with his uncle’s dairy business in Torquay, Devon and Taunton, Somerset – he ended up as a ranch and farm hand in Eastern Alberta. As my cousin, Betty Thompson wrote in the family memoirs in 2005, “Jimmy was a respected and locally renowned horseman, also noted for becoming the master over any and all mean broncos. He was hired during the first years the family was at Keoma, enjoying a good life as one of Newton [Isaac Thompson]’s cowboys. Whether Jimmy or Newton’s daughter, Carrie [Jane Thompson], had eyes for the other one first, is lost in history, but whichever way the romance started, the attraction grew into love and they were married on April 8, 1914.”
Carrie was, at the time of their marriage, living at home in Irricana. She was the local “Central” which title was later changed to Telephone Operator. Jimmy worked farms in a number of areas in the Irricana-Keoma area. With the help of his friends, neighbours and brothers-in-law he built a new farm house for his family on lands originally purchased by his father-in-law, Newton Thompson just east of Keoma – the Northeast of Section 17, Township 26, Ranges 26, West of the 4th Meridian.
The Shepheard farm house east of Keoma, Alberta, ca 1923
Carrie and Jim had five children, all born in the Irricana area. Unfortunately two little died in infancy and are buried in the Irricana town cemetery. Surviving children were Bill (born 1914), Ted (born 1916) and Ethel Mae (born 1935).
Shepheard “men” at work on their farm near Keoma, Alberta, with a steam driven tractor and threshing machine – left to right: James Shepheard (1865-1940), James Pearson Shepheard (1891-1965), Edward Newton Shepheard (1916-1997) and William Calvin Shepheard (1914-1983)
Carrie and Jimmy were both active in the community. He had a large part in developing school and community facilities, served on the local school board for many years and was a member of the Oddfellows Lodge. He was a great singer and entertainer and headlined many shows for fund-raising events. Besides running his farm, Jimmy and some of his neighbours spent time hauling grain to market using a train of wagons hitched to multiple teams of horses – up to eight pairs abreast. Carrie assisted with activities organized by the local ladies group and for the local Red Cross during the First World War.
In 1944 Jimmy retired and they moved to Nanaimo, British Columbia. Carrie died on August 29, 1959 and Jimmy on September 12, 1965. Both are buried in Port Alberni, BC.
Shepheard home in Nanaimo, British Columbia, 1945
Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.