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Alexander John Robert Duncan and
Edna Watnough Duncan

Taken from Our Treasured Heritage-
A History of Coalhurst and District
Pages 307 - 309
by Margaret Houghton

Alexander John Robert Duncan was born in Montreal, Quebec on July 21, 1904, to Alexander and Margaret (Scott) Duncan. Alex Sr. was coachman for the Governor General at the turn of the century, and later a messenger for the Bank of Montreal. His mother, Margaret also worked for Government House. Alex's father passed away in 1912, and his mother passed away in 1920. As a result of this tragedy, Alex and his two brothers, Bill and John were put on a train destined for Lethbridge, Alberta to be raised by Aunt Kate and Uncle John Scott.

In 1922 Alex went to Coaldale, to work for George Bathgate on the farm. After Mr. Bathgate left the area, Alex worked out on other farms in the summer, and drove horse-drawn, curtained windowed school buses. Alex was the proud owner of a Model T Ford Coupe and we have been told that Alex never took just one girl dancing, that he would pile as many girls as possible into the car and away to the dance they would go. After the dance, the girls would be delivered home safely.

In 1930 Alex went out to Vancouver where he picked up odd jobs for a few years, and in 1934 Alex moved back to the Coaldale area, soon moving to the Coalhurst Area to work for Roger Davis. Alex soon became good friends of Charlie and Ada Watnough, and spent many evenings at their home. I wonder if the reason was their daughter, Edna.

Edna was born on the homestead in West Lethbridge (NE-9-22) on September 9, 1914, the ninth child of Charlie and Ada Watmough. Edna's health wasn't the best, and in 1918 along with sister Annie and brother Oliver were stricken with diptheria. Their father stayed with them and looked after the ill. Edna was the sickest and for many days hovered between life and death. She gradually recovered from this dreadful disease, but it was many months before she was able to walk and talk. Edna went to school in West Lethbridge from 1920 to 1927, when the family moved to the Coalhurst Area. Then, Edna along with other family members, transferred to the Coalhurst School. She found the Coalhurst school much different from the school in the "bend". Edna was very athletic, and liked sports. Coalhurst was involved in the annual track and field meets, Edna would be seen in her square-collared white blouse well decked with red ribbons and the odd blue ribbon. Edna was finally able to talk her parents into letting her quit school, and went to work helping in the fields, later finding work on other farms. In a few years Edna met Alex. After courting for a while they decided to tie the knot, so on September 21, 1937, Edna became Mrs. Alex Duncan and moved to a small acreage north of "home".

Through their married life together they raised a family of five children. Edna and Alex never made a living off the land, so Alex worked at different jobs. For many years Alex worked on the tipple at the Federal Mine as a weigh man. The miners knew that Alex was honest, and they would never be cheated of their weights. After the mine closed in 1956, Alex went to work at Lilydale Poultry where he did the same type of work, only this time it was weighing turkeys, chickens and geese.

As the children were growing up and in school Edna and Alex took part in the local Home and School. They always attended the local dances held every two weeks in the School Hall.

Edna was the leader of the Coalhurst 4-H Garden Club where she worked with the young teenagers, teaching them about gardening and canning.

As the family grew up and left home Edna went to work at Kresge's in Lethbridge, where she worked at different times for many years. She finally found her way over to the food bar, where she worked for five years until illness forced her to retire. Even though Edna wasn't able to work, she still had her hobbies, ceramics and gardening. As sick as Edna was every grandchild and her five children all got a hand made gift. A beautiful piece of ceramics was made by the precious lady. Edna passed away on November 29, 1978, and was laid to rest in the land she loved West Lethbridge. Alex continued to live on the farm for nearly four years when ill health forced him into the Southland Nursing Home, where he passed away on November 3, 1982, and was laid to rest beside his loved one, Edna (in West Lethbridge).

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup