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Arthur Frederick Cunning and
Muriel Estelle Ward Cunning

Our Treasured Heritage-
A History of Coalhurst and District
Pages 294 - 296
by Laverne (Ankers) Cunning

Arthur Frederick Cunning arrived in Coalhurst from Diamond City approximately 1914, where he opened a drug store which was run under Dr. Inkrote, Dr. Rose and Dr. Beamont and others. Mrs. Stockdale had a building constructed for the drug store and the doctors' office. During the beginning of his stay Arthur batched with J. I. McDermott and Tom Kinney and others in a mine house. Here in Coalhurst he was druggist until 1919 at which time he saw that the contracts were coming in, which meant that the business would go to Lethbridge. Arthur was a self educated man and knew the drug business thoroughly. As well, he had beautiful handwriting. He studied and wrote University druggist exams, passed them all except Botany as he didn't have a book, and didn't know where to obtain one in order to study for the exam. The following year the requirements were 2 years of University. At the time, with the responsibility of a family, he was unable to attend. Therefore, he missed out on receiving his degree by one subject.

After the demise of his drug business in 1919, Arthur Cunning worked for the Coalhurst Mine. His first job at the mine was that of payroll clerk for soldiers who had returned from the first world war. During hard times he shovelled coal for boilers and loaded box cars. He was the second last man to leave the Coalhurst mine. Then he worked for #8 Lethbridge Collieries, and when the roads were impassable he would walk to work from his home in Coalhurst. He was secretary of the Town of Coalhurst for some years, also secretary of the school. As soon as he arrived in the town he asked to make tax assessment rolls. He became purchasing agent for #8 mine.

During his courtship with Muriel Estelle Ward, who resided in Diamond City, he walked to see her unless he was fortunate enough to borrow the Mountie's horse. Often times he assisted the Mounties with their work. Perhaps this was the reason he was able to use the horses occasionally.

On June 14, 1916 Arthur Frederick Cunning married Muriel Estelle Ward at the Diamond City School. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Green of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Six children were born from this union, three sons and and three daughters. Milton born Diamond City - deceased age 19, 1937.

The Cunning home in Coalhurst was built in two stages. On the same street, next door neighbors were the Flemings and the Hugh MacLeod family. On one comer was the Pentecostal Church, across the street was the home of Mrs. Hutton and the Nyaradis. For a time during the day the hospital was in operation, Estella Keziah Ward from California, mother of Muriel Cunning, worked as a cook. She was a real lady and an excellent cook. Some of the Cunning children remember standing in line for innoculations at the hospital.

During the depression years, times were extremely difficult. Many women picked coal from the dump as money was so scarce. There was a desperate need for fuel. Milk was bought by the Cunnings from the Brewers approximately 2 or 3 times a week. This was collected in old wooden gun powder boxes which encased sparkling clean glass milk bottles. The sterile atmosphere and spotless hygiene of the Brewers' Dairy is something we shall always remember. Two blocks from the Cunning home, on main street was "Aunt Doty's Candy Shop". To receive a few pennies, run up to the shop, stand upon a small orange crate, and peer into the candy case was a special treat for the children. Long periods of time passed while one contemplated the flavor of which "all day" sucker to purchase. The memory of their succulence lingers to this day. Flavors of strawberry, raspberry, lemon and lime etc., covered with scrumptious chocolate wrapped in colorful foil was a real eye catcher.

A favorite pastime of some of the older boys on Hallowe'en was that of tipping over out houses. It became a yearly ritual. As far as entertainment was concerned in Coalhurst one of the highlights was the Christmas Program. Teachers worked night and day to ready the performers for their big night. For such a small town the show was excellent.

Early years were full of wholesome fun, kick the can, giant steps and red light were often played during the summer months. Many evenings the youth walked a mile to the train station singing all the way there and back. There was indeed a feeling of warmth and comradeship among the young people. Sneaking a swim in the irrigation ditch was a favorite sport. Kids were frightened of Geordie Black, "the ditch rider." When he passed by with his horse and buggy, did they ever scatter! However, this did not deter them from going back again and again. Sports days were an exciting time. Ball games, races etc., were some of the activities. Competition was keen and many medals were won by various people. School fairs were held with ribbons and prizes given out for excellence. Also dances and whist drives at the IOOF Hall were some of the forms of entertainment enjoyed by many.

Needless to say friendship and fellowship was one of the key benefits of living in Coalhurst. Somehow larger cities lose the close knit feeling that exists in a small town. What fond memories we have of the good old days."

As of this date in December 1983, the children of Arthur and Muriel Cunning are as follows: Three living daughters and two living sons. Milton - deceased March 3, 1937. Arthur Cunning - deceased August 10, 1981. Muriel Cunning - deceased April 8, 1972.

Christmas 1940 was spent in Coalhurst, and New Years dinner, 1941 in Lethbridge. Our Coalhurst days were over.

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Mary Tollestrup