Tuesday 15 April 2014

Old Homes and Homesteads – Part 9 – Alberta, Canada and Washington, USA

Another of my paternal great-grandfathers, Newton Isaac Thompson, was born in Dunnville, Haldimand County, Upper Canada, on October 29, 1859. We believe his father, John T. Thompson, had come from New York State around 1840 to settle on new farm lands that opened up in the area. Newton’s mother, Elizabeth Emerson, was born in Leicestershire, England, and had come to Canada in 1835 with her parents and three siblings.

John and Elizabeth had eight children, all born in Haldimand County. Elizabeth died around 1868 and John remarried to Nancy Van Der Vere. They had nine more children together! John and Nancy, and several of their children immigrated to North Dakota, USA, in 1878, as new farm lands opened up in that state. Newton followed in 1879.

Newton met his future wife, Margaret Mary Anderson, in North Dakota. She had arrived with members of her family from Goderich, Huron County, Ontario, Canada, in 1880. Margaret had been born in Goderich on November 5, 1857. They were married in Mapleton Township, Cass County, North Dakota, in 1884. Newton and other members of both his and Margaret’s families farmed in the Mapleton area until the early 1900s. They had five children, all born in North Dakota. My grandmother, Carrie Jane, was born there on September 26, 1889.

Newton heard about new farm lands available in Alberta and in 1909 travelled north to look at the opportunity. Eventually he and his sons bought two sections of irrigation land from the Canadian Pacific Railway, near the village of Keoma, about 40 miles east of the City of Calgary. In 1910 he moved his wife and three of his children to the new farm. They started building a home the first year, while living in a granary. Newton and Margaret’s other children arrived the following year.

Original Thompson family farm house on the home quarter east of Keoma, Alberta; original house is on the right with a later addition on the left
(photo taken by Wayne Shepheard, 2005)
Photo taken of Thompson family members in front of house in village of Keoma, Alberta, ca 1915
Carrie Jane (Thompson) Shepheard in front of Thompson family home in village of Keoma, Alberta, ca 1915; 
The home was site of local telephone exchange.
Newton turned the farm and new house over to his son and built a new home in the village of Keoma. It was at this house that the first area telephone exchange was installed in 1912. Newton’s youngest daughter, Mae was the local operator.

In 1916 Newton, Margaret and Mae moved a few miles north to the village of Irricana where he built a new home. He had purchased the local butcher shop and general store in the town in 1913. Daughter Carrie operated the telephone exchange in the rear of the store until her marriage in 1914.

View of the main street of the village of Irricana, looking west toward the Canadian Pacific Railway station, ca 1910
Newton Isaac and Margaret Mary Thompson with daughter, Elizabeth Mae, 
in front of their new home in the village of Irricana, Alberta, ca 1916
Photo of former Thompson family home in village of Irricana, Alberta (photo taken by Wayne Shepheard, 2005)
In 1918, Newton retired and he and Margaret moved to the City of Calgary. She died in 1919. Newton moved to Seaview, Washington, USA, in 1920 where he resided until his death in 1937. Both are buried in Union Cemetery in Calgary.

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.