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John Sharpe Henry and
Irella Dawn Reid Henry

"Heritage of the High Country-
A History of Del Bonita and surrounding Districts
Pages 375-376

John Sharpe Henry was born in Thornton, Ontario, October 19, 1893 and died on February 5, 1957 at the homestead in Del Bonita.

He was the only child of W. D. Henry and Catharine Ellen Sharpe. (A younger brother "Thomas Harris" passed away at the age of nine months). His mother died on October 15, 1910 at the early age of forty-six years.

During the year 1911 he and his father made the long journey west to Alberta, coming first to the Grassy Lake area.

In the spring of 1912, Sharpe, as he was favorably known, entered the original line-up in Lethbridge to file for a homestead in the Del Bonita district. From then there was no turning back, long hours and hard work were the order of the day until a two room shack was erected. Each neighbor aided the other. A place to live was the first thing to be accomplished by the pioneers in those days, then came the breaking up of the land, fencing, etc.

During the winters of the next two or three years Sharpe worked at various places to grubstake himself for the following summer. For some time he worked for C.S. Noble, the famous inventor of the "Noble Cultivators".

Many were the hardships he suffered along with his neighbors, like the time when he was out fencing with the team and wagon and it began to hail. The hail stones were as large as golf balls and the only place to go was under the wagon to get away from the deluge that left the countryside white.

In the fall of 1915 he went back to Ontario. On January 22, 1916, he married Irelia Dawn Reid, a girl he went to school with and who later became the love of his life. Early that year they journeyed back to Alberta and settled on their homestead to begin their pioneering days together.

To this union were born eight children, three sons and five daughters. As the family tree spread its branches, Sharpe and Relia were blessed with thirty-three grandchildren and forty-three great-grandchildren.

Prominent in community affairs, Sharpe worked as a member of various organizations. He was made a member of the municipal council when the area was incorporated in 1941. He was Reeve of the municipality at the time of his death, a position he held for six years. In 1953 he received a Coronation Medal from Buckingham Palace, England, for many years of community work.

An avid baseball fan, he played and managed a team for many years in the Boundary Baseball League. He liked nothing better than to load the back of the truck with family and friends, as many as could pile in, and be off to a Saturday afternoon ballgame, the highlight of the week at that time.

He hated to be late and one time some years later (he was driving a car by this time) he was really in a hurry and as he popped over a small hill along about Lightfoot's place, there on the road right in front of him was a pig. He had no time to stop the car, so car and pig collided. It damaged the car pretty badly and as the old saying goes, (haste makes waste).

As for Rella, there was never an idle moment. She worked hard along with her husband in those early days, and with a new baby coming along every two or three years, there was always lots to do. Store bought clothes were few. Relia, an excellent sewer always made the girls' dresses and coats, and shirts, etc. for the boys, an art she passed on to all her daughters. As for bread and pies there was no better. They say practice makes perfect and she got lots of practice, twice weekly usually.

For many years in the fall after the grains were harvested, Sharpe would take a load of wheat to the Rockport Hutterite Colony and trade it for flour, cereals, etc.. Approximately twenty, hundred pound bags of flour were brought home and stored in the upstairs portion of the house. This was the new house that was built after the two-room house was burned to the ground in 1929. This supply would last till the next fall. Sometimes there would only be one-half bag left when the new supply was brought in.

Typical pioneers, Sharpe and Rella Henry helped to shape the pattern of the lease country. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" was their motto. When they passed away in their early retiring years they were sadly missed by all, and especially by their family.

W.D. Henry (Sharpe's dad) filed on a homestead as well. He never lived on his land and left the farming of it to his son.

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Mary Tollestrup