MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
After the church was organized in 1830 near Palmyra, New York,
missionaries were sent to Ontario, Canada, and a few branches of
the church were established in that area. Most of the new members
left Ontario soon after joining the church. They gathered in the
Eastern United States before the migration of the main body of
saints from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. However, prior
to 1886 no Mormons came to the western part of Canada with the
intent of developing a permanent settlement.
In 1886 the anti-poligamy raid was at its highest in Utah and a
number of the brethren chose to go to Mexico rather than be
imprisoned. Charles Ora Card was the President of the Cache
Stake in Logan, Utah in 1886 and was being sought by U.S.
Marshalls for practising polygamy. Early in September 1886 he
packed his wagon and requested permission from President Taylor
to go to Mexico.
President Taylor, who had lived in Canada prior to joining the church,
stated that Mormons would receive justice and fair treatment in
Canada. Also in 1886 there was very little arable land left in the
Utah area suitable for agricultural settlement. Therefore, he advised
President Card to go on an exploratory trip to western Canada to
escape being imprisoned and to find a suitable area to establish
a Mormon settlement
Selecting a Site for Settlement
On September 10, 1886 Charles Ora Card was set apart by Apostle
Francis M. Lyman as a missionary to select a suitable area for settlement
in western Canada. President Card was to be accompanied by Bishop
Isaac E. D. Zundell and James H. Hendricks. These three left Logan,
Utah September 14, 1886 and travelled north by train to Spokane,
Washington Territory. They purchased 2 saddle horses and two pack
horses and travelled north to the Osoyoos Lake area in British Columbia
and then north to Kamloops, but did not find any large areas that were
available for settlement. In Kamloops they sold their horses and on
October 14, 1886 left by train for Calgary. In Calgary they purchased
a team and wagon and started south. Eventually they reached the
area between the Belly and Waterton Rivers (Standoff area) and were
impressed that this was a suitable area for settlement. On October 24,
1886 they "kneeled down and dedicated the land to the Lord for the
benefit of Israel both red and white." They then returned to Utah and
President Card made a report that recommended this area for settlement.
The report was submitted to and approved by President Taylor. C.O. Card
then returned to his home in Logan and during the winter he was engaged,
in gathering a party of settlers to go to Canada.
About 40 families agreed to migrate to Canada, but by the spring of 1887
many had changed their minds, and only a few were prepared to accept
the challenge of colonizing the area selected in western Canada. Each
of the familites that failed to follow the advice to leave Utah for the
northern wilderness must have had their own reasons, and why they did it
is not documented. We do know that many of the ones who did heed the
and kept their commitment had already "started over" many times, or had
a heritage of having done so. Zina Y. Card, the wife of C. O. Card, for
example, was the daughter of Brigham Young, who had built, and
abandoned to the enemies of the Church, five houses in his lifetime. John
A. Woolf's roots go back to a loyal neighbour of Joseph Smith in Palmyra,
New York. Thomas R. Leavitt was born in Quebec and lived with the
Saints in various places in the Eastern United States until 1847 when he
moved west with the great trek of pioneers in 1847. Others like Johannes
Anderson and Samuel Matkin had left Europe in their youth to come to
Zion, made many moves during their lives, and obediently went wherever
directed. Despite the fact that the church had been established for less
than 60 years many of these pioneers were already 2nd and 3rd
On March 23, 1887 C. O. Card left the Cache Valley area to return to
Canada. On April 17, 1887 he and Bishop Thos. X. Smith, Neils Monson
and Thomas E. Ricks arrived at the Standoff site. They found that the
land which had been previously selected between the Belly and Waterton
Rivers was under lease to the Cochrane Ranch Company and was not
therefore available for settlement. In searching for another area to settle
they crossed the Blood Indian reserve and on April 24, 1887 the party
stopped at the North West Mounted "Police Post" located about 10 miles
southwest of the present town of Cardston. On April 25th they explored
land along the Lees Creek and St. Mary River. On the evening of April 26
President Card stated: "they voted unanimously" that the Lees Creek
area was the best location "to plant our colony". The next day the 27th
of April they went to the "Police Post" and informed the Police that new
settlers who were migrating from Utah should be directed to the Lees
Creek site. C. O. Card then drove to Lethbridge and reported to the land
office, bought supplies, and returned to the Lees Creek site.
New Settlement Established
When C. O. Card returned to the Lees Creek site on May 1st 1887 he
found that Andrew L. Allen and Warner H. Allen had arrived at the Lees
Creek site with four horses and a wagon. On Monday May 2, 1887,
Andrew L. Allen "hitched three horses to C. O. Card's plow and
commenced breaking ground". C. O. Card, Thomas Ricks, Thomas K.
Smith, Neils Monson, Andrew L. Allen and Warner H. Allen each
sperately held the plough for the first six furrows. They continued
breaking land until about one-half acre was ploughed. The following
morning May 3, 1887 the first garden in the Lees Creek area was
planted. Jane Woolf Bates stated that the garden was located one
block east of the present Main Street.
Whle C. O. Card and his party went ahead to find the location for
the settlement on Lees Creek, his family and several other families
back in Utah were preparing for the long trek to Canada by team
and wagon with their household goods, food supplies, farm equip-
ment and livestock. The trip from Utah to the Lees Creek site would
take about 2 months and they would travel approximately one-half
the distance that many of the adults had travelled years before
when they crossed the plains from Nauvoo to Utah. The 41
settlers who first arrived in the new settlement in 1887 came from
several different locations in Utah and travelled in a number of
Samuel Matkin and his wife Sena, Robert Daines and Mark Preece
arrived at the Lees Creek site with two four-horse teams on May 16,
1887 and on May 25th Thomas R. Leavitt, Johannes Anderson and
their families with Johathan E. Layne arrived at the Lees Creek
C. O. Card had left the Lees Creek site on May 3 1887 to meet his
family who were en route from Utah to Canada. It was indeed a
very difficult journey for the pioneer families making the trek to
Canada. They suffered sickness, cold wet weather, and many
other difficulties. President Card, who had crossed the plains
from Illinois to Utah as a youth had seen much of hardship and
suffering, and on May 10, 1887 as he met Thomas R. Leavitt
and Johannes Anderson and their families he made this simple
note in his diary: "When I beheld these brethern it reminded
me of another exodus, and I could have wept."
Two days later Card rejoiced as he met the main body of pioneer
saints, which included his dear wife Zina. Jane Woolf Bates,as
a young girl travelled with her parents in that group which left
Utah early in April 1887. On the journey to Canada, Jane Woolf Bates
wrote:"...there were no roads, only old trails with ruts, stones
stumps and tree roots to keep us bumping. There were often stormy
days with both snow and rain to add to the discomfort." They did
not travel on Sunday but held a church service. They had milk
cows and they made butter "by tying the jar containing the cream
to the back of the wagon. By night the jolting of the wagon had
produced a nice pat of fresh butter, and the buttermilk made a
Jane Woolf Bates also said that all heads of families selected to
colonize this new area were chosen "because of responsible
positions held in the church for which they had constantly
laboured both temporally and spiritually.....All of them had had
previous pioneering experience. All were men of great integrity
On June 1, 1887 as the C. O. Card party entered Canada, they
stopped, formed a circle and shouted "Hurrah for Canada! Canada
or Bust! Three Cheers for Canada!" Years later a cairn was erected
south east of Cardston at the location where they entered Canada.
The next day the Card group camped by the St. Mary River which
was in flood and they were unable to cross. This event was described
years later in an unpublished manuscript by Mary Lula Woolf Ibey,
an eyewitness: "I shall never forget the first time I saw a Mountie.
We were forced to camp on account of heavy rains. In the early
afternoon, two Northwest Mounted Police in their bright scarlet
coats road into camp, talked for some time to President Card, then
rode away. I shall never forget the seriousness of the situation.
President Card said he was told the St. Mary's River was so high
it would be impossible for us to cross it, and when the snows started
to melt it would be weeks before we could cross. President Card
called all members together. We knelt in solemn appeal as he asked
our Father in Heaven to subdue the elements and make it possible
to reach our destination. He asked the men to make a raft; all
the boxes and wood were assembled, and they worked part of the
night. The provisions were running low and some members were
ill. The next morning the same Mounties rode into camp and said
a miracle had happened -- the waters had gone down four or five
feet during the night and if we would hurry we could cross the
river before the snow melted. The sun was shining warm and
bright. We crossed safely and did not use the raft. As soon as
we were safe on the other side, the river started to rise, and it
was weeks before anyone could cross."
They continued on their journey to the Lees Creek settlement and
made camp on the east side of the creek. The next morning they
awoke to see that 5 inches of snow had fallen.
In the tent of Josiah A. Hammer located on the east side of Lees Creek
a sacrament meeting was held on Sunday June 6, 1887. Speaking at
the meeting were Charles Ora Card, Robert Daines, George L. Farrell,
Thomas R. Leavitt, Johannes Anderson, Johathan E. Layne and Andrew
L. Allen. They had a good meeting and sacrament was administered
and passed to the members of this new pioneer settlement of 41 souls.
On Tuesday June 7th the members of the colony working as one group
began immediately to plough and plant gardens and field crops.
The members of the new settlement met on Sunday June 12, 1887 in
a temporary bowery and C. O. Card organized a Sunday School with
Jonathan E. Layne as superintendent, John A. Woolf, Edwin R. Miles as
first and second assistants and Sterling Williams as secretary.
At the next Sunday meeting held June 19, 1887 Jonathan E. Layne one
of the speakers recorded in his diary, "While I was speaking the spirit
of prophecy rested upon me and under its influence I predicted that
this country would produce for us all that our Cache Valley homes had
produced and that temples would yet be built in this country. I could
see it as plain as if it were already here."
In 1887 the only other settlements in this part of the North West
Territories were Fort Macleod and Lethbridge. There were no roads
or bridges covering the 40 to 50 miles between these two settements
and the new colony Lees Creek. Consequently the new pioneers were
in relative isolation for the first few years after they arrived and therefore
had to be mostly self sustaining. They struggled for several years under
difficult circumstances to establish a stable community.
Charles Ora Card was to these pioneers what Brigham Young was to the
early pioneer settlers in Utah. He was their spiritual and temporal leader.
He was a gifted organizer, governor and facilitator. He travelled to
Lethbridge, Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg, Salt Lake City and anywhere help
could be found for his fledgling community. He made alliances and
friendships with government leaders, bureaucrats, business tycoons,
Indian chiefs, railway builders, irrigation promoters and all manner of civic
and private leaders. The Lord used his vision and boundless determintion
to establish a permanent, stable Mormon community. A colony with a purpose.
Establishment of a Stable Community
For the first few years these loyal pioneers operated many small projects
on a cooperative basis, including a store, a sawmill, a small coal mine, a
cheese factory, a grist mill, and a small irrigation project. Not all of these
enterprises were successful, but they certainly helped to fill the needs of
the settlers during the early years of development.
The church officials in Salt Lake wished to see the settlement succeed.
Consequently, they visited the area on many occasions and offered help
in several ways, including financial assistance.
The new pioneers of Lees Creek invited all the neighbours, around their
new settlement to join in a Dominion Day celebration on July 1, 1887.
They had songs, speeches, lunches and sport activities. It was reported
that 53 people from the community including the local ranchers attended
the activities and all had a good time. Bro. Johathan E. Layne reported
in his journal. "We enjoyed a feeling of satisfaction that we were where
the Lord wanted us and we all felt well pleased with the country."
In July 1887 the Cardston townsite was selected and surveyed and soon
afterwards several settlers began buiding log homes. Thomas R. Leavitt
built the first home and Charles O. Card built the second home.
On August 14, 1887 the saints held Sunday meetings in the home of
Thomas R. Leavitt and for several Sundays thereafter. As the new homes
were finished Sunday services were held alternately in the homes of other
Sunday Nov 20, Mary L. Woolf was sustained as president of the Relief
Society organization, Zina Y. Card was sustained president of the Young
Ladies organization and Sarah Daines as president of the Primary
On November 1, 1887 Simpson M. Woolf was the first person baptized in
the new colony. At the fast meeting held December 1, 1887 the first baby
blessed in the community was the infant Benjamin Charles Ricks who was
blessed by his father Bro. Joseph Ricks. On Saturday Dec. 17th two
children were born, one to Sis. Woolf, wife of John A. Woolf named Zina
Alberta and a baby boy to Sena A. Matkin, wife of Samual Matkin. Sis.
Zina Card acted as midwife for both occasions although she was not a
At a priesthood meeting held December 5, 1887 a building committee
was appointed for the purpose of erecting a meeting house.
A Christmas Eve Party was held on December the 24th at the home of
C. O. Card with a Christmas tree, Santa Claus for the children and a
dance for old and young. The music was provided by Bros. Robinson,
John W. Woolf and Henry Monson, all three playing mouth organs.
Many socials were held during this first Christmas season by the new
settlers at Lees Creek.
It would be impossible to document in this brief history all of the
examples of God's care and love for his pioneers, and probably most
of the instances were never recorded, however, an entry in C. O. Card's
journal in the early winter of 1887 describes the resolution of a crisis,
Card's own strong leadership, and the hand of the lord in the fate of this
tiny isolated community. "When we first came upon the ground of Lees
Creek several of the brethren became despondent for fear they could
not obtain sustenance for their families. While speaking upon our
situation in one of our meetings in June, I was prompted to predict
if we would remain here and serve the Lord and not complain the way
would be opened and they would be able to procure labor remunerative
enough to give them food and raiment which has been Literally fulfilled.
The brethren were employed building and haying for the Cochrane
Ranching Co. and earned enough for their winters bread and also picked
up enough odd jobs to occupy all of the spare time they had out side of
making their families comfortable also preparing to stable horses and
"By the time winter weather set in, Our families were comfortably housed
and bread provided to eat. Truly I feel that we have a very faithful Band
of Exiles here and those who are bound to make a mark in this land that
will weigh on the Credit side of the saints.
During 1888 the settlers continued in their labours by finishing pioneer
log houses, stables etc. They also completed a new school house which
was dedicated for church activities, school and social purposes.
The first school was taught in the summer of 1888 by Jane Woolf. Later,
after the school house was built, early in 1889, Heber S. Allen became
the school teacher.
During a visit to Utah in September 1888 Zina Young Card wife of C. O.
Card reported to the Deseret News that there were approximately 100
saints in the new settlement who were firmly established and the
prospects for the new settlement were very good.
Card Ward Organized
At the first conference held in the new settlement on October 6 and 7,
1888, Apostles Francis M. Lyman and John W. Taylor were present and a
ward was organized, known as the Card Ward, John Anthony Woolf was
selected as Bishop, with Johannes Anderson and Thomas R. Leavitt as
first and second counsellors. This new ward was included in the Cache
Stake of Zion where C. O. Card, at that time, was still the Stake President.
Th following auxiliary organizations were established: Relief Society with
Mary L. Woolf as President and Elizabeth Hammer and Anna Layne as
counsellors, Sunday School - Jonathan E. Layne, President with Samuel
Matkin and Noah L. Shurtliff as counsellors. Y.M.M.I.A. - Henry L.
Hinman as President and Josiah A. Hammer and George M. Hudson
as counsellors. Y.L.M.I.A. organization - Zina Card as President with
Katie Brown and Annie Cheney as counsellors. Primary organization -
Sarah S. Daines as President with Sena A. Matkin and Elizabeth Farrell
as counsellors. Ward teachers were also sustained. The ward was
fully organized with dedicated faithful leaders.
On the morning after the conference Apostle Francis M. Lyman said the
area was to be dedicated for the habitation of the Saints. Apostles Lyman
and J. W. Taylor and other members of the ward were escorted around
the new townsite by Pres. Card. When they arrived at the "tabernacle
block" where the Temple is now located, Francis W. Lyman asked John
W. Taylor to offer a prayer dedicating the land for the habitation of the
Latter Day Saints. Sister Taylor describes the events that followed: "The
prayer, with my husband a mouthpiece, in behalf of the people of the
Dominion of Canada, of England and her possessions, was indeed
prophetic. Then there was a hush:"
"I now speak by the power of prophecy and say that upon this very spot
shall be erected a temple to the name of Israel's God, and nations shall
flow unto it and praise his high and holy name."
"I stood spellbound under the influence of the spirit and the stillness that
had descended upon us."
A new log meeting house 21 x 40 feet was completed in 1888, also in
December 1888 a cooperative store was started in C. O. Card's granary.
Stock for the cooperative store sold at $5.00 a share and the stock
could be paid for by labouring on the new meeting house.
C. O. card returned to Utah in 1889 and had an interview with President
Wilford Woodruff, who called him to continue his labours in Canada.
In 1889 the church bought and leased a large tract of land in the
Woolford area which was operated as a church cattle ranch for a short
time, but was later sold to settlers.
There was great rejoicing in the colony in October 1889 on the arrival
of President Wilford Woodruff and his wife and George Q. Cannon
and wife, Joseph F. Smith and Brigham Young Jr. who came up from
Salt Lake City to hold a conference in the Card Ward.
Elders Henry L. Hinman and Truman Leonard were appointed on Sunday
November 24, 1889 as the first Home Missionaries to labour in the
Cardston area. They were called to hold block meetings in the area
during the winter months of 1889, 1890, and 1891.
In January 1890 the first dramatic performance was given by the young
people of Cardston. Later a dramatic company was organized that
operated successfully for several years.
From 1887 and to July 1888, the community was referred to as Lees
Creek. From 1888 to May 1889 both "Card" and "Lees Creek" were
used. The name Cardston was officially adopted in November 1889.
Cardston was officially designated as a town in 1901, and C. O. Card
was elected as the first mayor.
In December 1890 a cooperative cheese factory was built in Cardston
which was later amalgamated with the co-op store. It was reported that
the cheese factory produced from 28,000 to 53,000 lbs. annually for
On August 3, 1890 C. O. Card was released as President of the Cache
Stake of Zion in Logan, Utah and was called as President of the
Canadian Mission which included the Mormon settlements in Southern
Alberta and all the area presently included in Alberta, Saskatchewan
and Manitoba. During the time President Card was Mission President
several missionaries from the Cardston area were called to serve in the
mission mainly in the Winnipeg area. President Card visited the
missionaries on several occasions. After President Card was released
as Stake President and Mission President, the Manitoba area was
included in the Northern States Mission.
The church statistical report for the Cardston Ward dated September 27,
1890 stated there were 50 families with a total population of 295 people.
In the summer of 1891 a saw mill and shingle mill was imported by C. O.
Card and was located 20 miles south west of Cardston. Also in 1891 a
cooperative owned grist mill was built. A threshing machine motor was
used for a short time to operate the grist mill but later it was operated
by water power.
In March 1892 it was agreed that a new meeting house should be
constructed. The members also agreed to help build a bridge across
the St. Mary River. The bridge located two and one half miles north
east of Cardston was completed in 1893. The Government furnished
the material for the bridge and the people of Cardston hauled the
material for the bridge and helped in its construction.
In July a new cooperative store building was dedicated and a post
office was opened with Heber S. Allen as the postmaster.
The statistical report for the Cardston Ward in 1892 stated there were
81 families, 215 males, 205 females and a total of 420 people in the
ward. In a Sabbath meeting held on July 3, 1892, C. O. Card, John
A. Woolf, Zina Card, Heber S. Allen and Oliver L. Robinson were
sustained as members of the church school board. As the areas around
Cardston were growing, priesthood brethren were appointed to labour
from house to house with the Mormon settlers throughout the district.
Later these outlying areas were organized into Branches.
In April 1893 Pres. Card wrote to Salt Lake requesting consideration
be given to having the Cardston area added to the list of quarterly
conferences to be held under the direction of the First Presidency. In
the letter Pres. Card stated that in the Cardston area there was one
ward and several branches and with the growth taking place he felt a
stake organization could be considered in the near future.
The Canadian Mission held its first quarterly conference at Cardston
under the direction of Apostle John W. Taylor on Sunday November 19
and Monday November 20, 1893. At the conference several Branches
or districts were established. Richard Pilling was sustained as President
of the Snake Creek Branch, Neils Hansen, President of the East Cardston
Branch, Oliver L. Robinson for the West Cardston Branch, James W.
Kearl for the Boundary Creek Branch and Jos. H. Gold for the Fish Creek
Branch. It was also stated that monthly priesthood meetings were to be
held the first Saturday of each month. It was evident that the population
of the Cardston area was growing steadily.
On Friday December 8, 1893 Apostle John W. Taylor and Bishop John W.
Woolf of Cardston with Richard Pilling selected the new townsite of Aetna.
Later on December 17, 1893 the Aetna Ward was organized with Richard
Pilling as Bishop and Neils Hansen and John Pilling as counsellors.
Henry L. Hinman was ordained as Patriarch of the Canadian Mission on
Sunday December 24, 1893.
It should be noted that Apostle John W. Taylor spent considerable time
in southern Alberta during the early years of the new settlement and he
assisted and encouraged the new settlers to develop an active stable
Under the direction of Apostle John W. Taylor, a special conference was
held at Cardston on Jan. 21, 1894 to organize the Mountain View ward.
Vincent Stewart was set apart as Bishop with Jos. H. Gold and Samuel
Taylor as counsellors.
At the quarterly conference of the Canadian Mission held in Cardston
August 19 and 20 under the direction of Apostle John W. Taylor, mission
organizations for the Sunday School, Relief Society, Y.M.M.I.A. and
Y.L.M.I.A. were organized. A Primary organization was established in
In October 1894 Elder Andrew Jensen, Assistant Church Historian visited
Cardston in the interest of Church History and gave a detailed and
favorable report that was published in the Deseret News - October 20,
1894. He reported that there was a total of 674 members in the Cardston
area. The church had an excellent Sunday School, Relief Society, Primary
and all church meetings were well attended. He stated further the future
prospects for immigration of saints were very good.
In 1894 irrigation was attempted on a small scale. A ditch was surveyed
on the east side of Lees Creek and used mainly to irrigate garden lots.
At fairs held in Fort Macleod and Lethbridge the Cardston settlers took
many prizes and the Lethbridge paper reported that irrigation was the
means of obtaining such results.
During 1893-1894 Apostle John W. Taylor encouraged the saints to
develop different industries in the Cardston area.
Also in 1894 a telephone line was constructed from Lethbridge to
Cardston and Aetna under the direction of the Lethbridge and
Cardston Telephone Company. Building of the line cost over $3,000
with about one half of the sum being supplied by the Canadian
The new bridge across the St. Mary River and the telephone line to
Lethbridge were appreciated by the residents of the Cardston
community and helped in the growth and stability of the area.
Alberta Stake Organized 1895
By the year 1895, only 8 years after the saints had arrived in the
Cardston area they had developed a self sufficient productive
community with 3 well organized wards. The community was
growing steadily and the members gave their full support to
the local church leaders and to the General Authorities in
Utah. From 1887 to 1895 many favourable reports of the
progress of the new settlement appeared in the Deseret News.
From the reports of the General Authorities in Utah who had
often visited the new settlement and from the reports of C. O.
Card and Apostle John W. Taylor, it became evident to the General
Authorities in Utah that a stake should be organized in the Cardston
area. It was the first stake to be organized outside of the United
States and the 35th stake organized in this dispensation.
While attending the General Conference held in Salt Lake City in April
1895 C. O. Card was set apart by the First Presidency as President
of the Alberta Stake of Zion with the instructions that the Stake
organization was to be completed at the next quarterly conference
which was to be held in Cardston on May 26 and 27.
The names of those selected for the Stake organization were approved
at the quarterly conference but as none of the Apostles were present
at that time, the ordinations were delayed until June 9, 1895 when a
special conference was convened under the direction of Apostle John
W. Taylor. Apostle Taylor read the letter of instructions from the First
Presidency and then proceeded with the completion of the Stake
At the conference Elder John W. Taylor stated "the organization of a
Stake may seem strange to many of the saints, and those not of our faith.
The greatest desire of those ordained should be to seek first the kingdom
of God and His righteousness; to set themselves and their houses in order;
to keep themselves pure and unspotted before the Lord..."He also stated
the reason we had the privilege of a Stake organization so soon was
because the Alberta mission stood at the head of the list in the payment
of tithing. He gave instructions to keep our homes and surroundings clean
for our own health and benefit.
The first quarterly conference of the new stake was held August 25 and
26, 1895. President Card expressed gratitude for the favourable
circumstances of the saints at that time. He instructed the youth to
guard against "excessive frivolity" and reminded the saints of the
necessity of strictly conforming to the law of tithing and continuing
faithful in every good word and work.
At the quarterly conference held Sunday February 23 and 24, 1896 the
Stake membership was reported as 780. The talks given at the
conference again stressed diligence and faithfulness especially in the
care of the children and guiding them from "the snares of the adversary"
and of the necessity of strictly observing the law of tithing, observance
of the word of wisdom and complying with the law of the land.
Succeeding quarterly conferences were held regularly and on many
occasions representatives from the quorum of the twelve and other
church officials from Salt Lake City were in attendance.
On Monday November 23, 1896 the second day of the quarterly
conference the Leavitt branch was organized as a Ward, with Frank
Leavitt as Bishop and Charles Quinton and Thomas R. Leavitt as
By 1898 there were approximately 1200 members in the 4 wards and
Branches in the Alberta Stake. In Cardston there was a cheese factory,
grist mill, three stores, two blacksmith shops, two carpenter shops, a tin
shop, shoe shop and a meat market. There was also a combined cheese
factory and creamery in Aetna. In Mountain View there was a creamery,
carpenter shop and a blacksmith shop.
Irrigation Project - More Settlers Arrive
In 1898 under the direction of Charles Ora Card the Mormon Church
entered into an agreement with the Alberta Railway and Irrigation
Company to construct the main canal to supply water to irrigate large
areas of land around the present towns of Magrath, Raymond and
Stirling. Under the direction of the church officials in Salt Lake City,
C. O. Card advertised in Utah and Idaho for men to come and work
on the project. They would be paid for their labour on the canal one
half in cash and the remaining one half would go to the payment for the
land they wished to purchase.
In 1898 and succeeding years many new settlers from Utah and Idaho
arrived in southern Alberta to work on the irrigation project. As a result
3 new wards were organized. On June 12, 1899 the Magrath and Stirling
wards were organized. Levi Harker, of Cardston was called as Bishop with
Ammon Mercer and Fred Grant as counsellors. Theodore Brandley was
Bishop of the Stirling ward, Samuel Faucett and Franklin D. Grant as
counsellors. In 1901 the Raymond was organized with Jesse William
Knight as Bishop and Joseph Bevans and Ephraim Hicks as counsellors.
Along with the influx of new settlers in the Magrath, Stirling and Raymond
areas new settlers were also arriving in the Cardston area. On September
1899 the Caldwell ward located in the Mountain View area was organized
with David W. Caldwell Sr. as Bishop and Charles A. Terry Sr. and Isaac
W. Allred as counsellors. On Dec. 8, 1900 the Beazer ward was organized
with Mark E. Beazer as Bishop with James M. Broadhead and James B.
Wright as counsellors. The Kimball ward was organized May 21, 1900
with John M. Dunn as Bishop and and Ernest Kimball and Thomas L. King
as counsellors. The Taylorville ward was organized May 31, 1900 with
George A. Nelson as Bishop and James Rampton and Fred Nielson as
In the statistical report dated December 31, 1900 there were 2,736
members in the Alberta Stake.
By 1902 Pres. Charles Ora Card's health was deteriorating and he was
released as Stake President and set apart as Patriach. In 1903 President
Card left Cardston and returned to Logan, Utah where he died September
Brigham Young Card, grandson of Charles Ora Card, stated: "C. O. Card
and Zina Y. Card were unusual pioneers. The spiritual, economic and
overall development of Cardston and southwestern Alberta today, is in
no small measure, a product of their unique, dedicated, capable and
In the introduction section of Charles Ora Card's Diaries it states: "In the
short space of sixteen years, Card's leadership, dedication and vision left
a lasting imprint on the small corner of the Canadian Northwest through
the settlements, industries, and irrigation agriculture he helped establish."
Charles Ora Card was a courageous and devoted pioneer, loyal to the
leadership of the church in Utah. As the leader of the Cardston pioneers
he encouraged and inspired the early Mormon settlers of southern Alberta
to withstand the adversities and difficulties they encountered in
establishing a permanent and stable Mormon community.
With the release of President Card in 1902 Heber S. Allen was called and
set apart as the new Stake President with Theodore Brandley and Edward
James Wood as counsellors. The church membership continued to increase
after 1902, especially in the Magrath, Raymond and Stirling areas.
Alberta Stake Divided
When the Alberta Stake was first organized it took in most of the territory
in Canada west of Ontario. This record will not deal with the significant
efforts made to administer this enormous domain. The first two divisions
of the Stake were the most important in terms of defining the eventual
territory encompassed by the two Cardston Stakes. At the Stake
conference held August 30, 1902 under the direction of Pres. Joseph
F. Smith the Stake was divided. H. S. Allen was called to preside over
the new Taylor stake with Theodore Brandley and J. William Knight as
counsellors. Edward J. Wood was called to preside over the Alberta
State with Thomas Duce and Sterling Williams as counsellors. The
Stirling, Magrath and Raymond wards went to the Taylor Stake.
President Wood served as President of the Alberta Stake for 39 years
(1903 - 1942) and he served as Temple President for 25 years (1923 -
1948). From 1923 to 1942 he served both as Temple President and Stake
President. President Wood was a spiritual and temporal leader loved
and respected by all who knew him. President Charles W. Nibley, a
counsellor to President Grant in the First Presidency of the Church,
stated: "I truly regard him (President Wood) as one of the great and
noble men of the earth...everywhere you see President Wood he is
going about among the people, teaching them and blessing them,
labouring with them for their upbuilding and for their salvation. He
loves the people of God and he loves to be among them.
During 1905 and 1906 the church negotiated the purchase of the
Cochrane Ranch, a block of 66,500 acres, located between the
Belly and Waterton Rivers. While most of this area was sold to
settlers, part was retained and operated as a church ranch for
several years. From this development the Glenwood ward was
organized in 1909 and the Hillspring ward in 1910. A Hartley
ward was also organized but the membership was later included
in the Glenwood ward.
After 1900 wards and branches were organized in the central
and northern part of Alberta and were included in the Alberta
Stake until 1921 when the Lethbridge Stake was organized.
Frankburg and Claresholm wards were organized in 1904, Orton
Ward in 1905, Pine Cooley branch later Stavely Ward 1905,
Gleichen Branch 1908, Starline Ward 1909, Calgary Branch
1913 and Rosemary Branch 1915.
The aforementioned wards and branches together with 4 wards
from the Taylor Stake were included in the Lethbridge Stake
which was organized November 10, 1921 with Hugh B. Brown
as Stake President and George W. Green and Asael Palmer
When President Wood was released in 1942 he was followed
by a succession of effective and beloved Stake Presidents.
The Alberta Temple
By 1912, there were approximately 7000 Mormons firmly established
in the three Stakes in southern Alberta. Ordinances performed in
temples are a vital and a essential part of the Plan of Salvation.
In 1912 due to distance and cost of travel to Utah, temples were
not readily accessible to the members of the church in southern
Alberta. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise when President
Joseph F. Smith announced in the October conference of 1912
that a temple would be constructed in southern Alberta.
Cardston was later chosen as the site for the temple. Construction
commenced in 1913. The temple was dedicated in 1923. Having
a temple in southern Alberta has contributed greatly to the spiritual
strength and stability of the saints in Alberta.
Since the 1940's the urban population of Alberta has increased
considerably especially in the cities of Calgary, Edmonton and
Lethbridge. In the smaller urban centres such as Cardston, Raymond
and Magrath there has been a slower yet steady growth in population.
With the increase in size of farms, more hard surfaced roads, and more
reliable motor vehicles, many of the smaller hamlets in Alberta have
disappeared. Consequently many of the smaller rural wards and
branches established prior to 1940 have been discontinued and the
membership has been transferred to nearby remaining wards. For
example the members in the Caldwell, Kimball, Taylorville and Beazer
wards are now included in other nearby wards.
Cardston is an agricultural based community with no large industrial
enterprises. The population of the town however, has remained
steady and having the temple located here has drawn many senior
citizens to locate in this community.
Since the 1930's many young people have had to leave the Cardston
area and other agricultural based centres of Alberta to find occupations
elsewhere. These young people have contributed much to the
development of the larger urban centres of Alberta and other urban
areas where they have gone. The sons and daughters of these stalwart
Mormon pioneers in the Alberta stake and other stakes in southern
Alberta have strengthened and often formed the nucleus of church
organizations in urban centres of Alberta and other parts of Canada.
Many have served and are serving in leadership positions, as General
Authorities, and in the General Boards of Auxiliary organizations of the
church. Many of these young people have established themselves in
different professions and contributed to the welfare and development
of the areas where they have located.
The Cardston ward was divided in 1914 into the Cardston 1st and 2nd
wards. The population of the Alberta stake increased very slowly
during the 1930's. The 3rd and 4th wards were not organized until
1946. The 5th ward was organized in 1964. In 1967 a Lamanite
branch was organized. By 1983 there were 12 wards and one branch
in the Alberta Stake and in November of 1983 the stake was divided
into the Cardston Alberta Stake and Cardston Alberta West Stake.
The Cardston Alberta Stake included the Cardston 4th, 6th and 7th
wards, also the Aetna, Glenwood and Hillspring wards and the Blood
Branch. Keith Olsen was called as Stake President with Stan Johnson
and E. Dahl Quinton as counsellors.
The Cardston Alberta West Stake included the Cardston 1st, 2nd, 3rd,
and 5th wards and the Leavitt and Mountain View wards. Brent L.
Nielson was called as Stake President with Bryce Cahoon and Lorin
L. Pitcher as counsellors. An 8th ward has since been organized in
President Nathan E. Tanner, a native of Cardston, stated that in
reviewing the history of the Latter-day Saints in Canada "the reader
will learn of the contributions made by the 'Latter-day Saints' in
virtually every field of endeavour: moral, spiritual, economical,
political, education and cultural. From the beginning of their
history in these latter days (1830), the Mormons have been
known as great colonizers, and as creators of fertile farmlands
from barren wastelands, as they pioneered in new methods of
farming irrigation. Many of these people have achieved
national prominence in their chosen pursuits as they contributed
to the building of a great nation, and always with an eye single
to the glory of God."
The pioneer founders of the Alberta Stake were poor by the
standards of the world and deprived of many privileges
which we accept as necessities, but they were valiant in
their testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that
testimony, as proven by obedient devotion to their Church,
country and community, is the rich and valuable legacy of
faith and sacrifice that has been passed on, not only to their
posterity, but to all who share in the church community of
Western Canada. They are now looking to us to carry on
the work of the lord which they established under severe
conditions. May we be equal to the challenge.
Our Legacy of Faith and Sacrifice, The Founding of the
Alberts Stake, is published jointly by the Cardston
Alberta Stake and the Cardston Alberta West Stake, of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1995,
Cardston, Alberta and was prepared by a Joint Stake
Centennial Committee consisting of T. M. Matkin and K.
J. Taylor, with the assistance of V. A. Wood.