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Charles Edward Parry Sr. and
Ellen O'Leary Parry

Water Works Wonders
A History of the White, Wilson, McMahon,
River Junction School Districts Pages 396 - 401

He was born in Cardiff, Wales and married Ellen O'Leary. They had a market garden business there. In 1901, he came to Canada, first stopping to look around for a place in Ontario, and then on to Lethbridge, Northwest Territories where he bought a quarter section from the C.P.R. (south and east of Lethbridge). He later added another quarter of dryland bordering on what is now the Coutts highway and 43rd street. There were no roads then; just prairie trails, one of which cut through this quarter and was so deep that in many places we had to make a new trail. Some said it was the trail to the U.S. border, (the Fort Whoop-Up Trail). Mr. Parry kept this trail intact and unbroken until the farm was sold many years later.

Mrs. Parry stayed for a time in Cardiff where she and Mr. Windsor Viney took care of the family business until Charles Sr. had a place for them to settle.

The first house was a small log structure. Mrs. Parry with children Nell, Agnes, Charles, Lillian, and John came in 1902. Kathleen (Dolly), and Wilfrid were born in Canada. Wilfrid died as an infant on November 13, 1908, his first birthday. Agnes also died in May of 1908 from a raptured appendix at age thirteen. Medical help was far away and in it's infancy in that part of the country. Out of 13 children born to the Parry's, including two sets of twins, only five grew up.

Once the Parry house was built (the year of the World Farm Congress, 1912), Mr. Parry set to constructing the other necessary farm buildings, mostly of concrete. The lake bottom, pump house cistern, floors, partitions and manger in the horse barn, and floors in the cow barn, were all concrete. The cow barn was the first in the country to be sided and roofed with corrugated tin sheets (it was struck by lightning in the 1950's and most of it was destroyed). This barn was also one of the first in the country to have an indoor water system with drinking bowls for the cattle. It also had a sewer system from the gutters. He had the first herd of registered Holstein cows south of Okotoks.

Since Mr. Parry was a gardener by trade, his landscaping soon attracted people from far and wide. He was also commissioned to plant hundreds of trees around Henderson lake. Mrs. Parry died about 1926, and Mr. Parry in 1930.

Ellen (Nell), attended White School for some years and later became a teacher. She married Sidney Johnson and raised three children. A fourth child Wilbur, died as a young child. Ellen passed away in 1973.

Charles was born in Cardiff, Wales in April, 1898 and came to Canada when he was four years old. He attended White School when it was in it's first location and later went to Central School in Lethbridge.

Lillian was born in Wales in 1900 and immigrated with her family to Canada in 1902. The Parry children first went to White School but later, as their dad delivered milk in Lethbridge, they attended school there; Central School, Fleetwood School, and High School in what is now the Bowman Art Centre. Lillian took home economics and secretarial courses, as well as the academic courses. She graduated in 1922, going on to take three years of nurses training in the Vancouver General Hospital.

After graduation, she returned to Lethbridge and joined the Nursing Mission under Miss Tilley. Doctors would contact the Nursing Mission to send nurses to patients homes to deliver babies, assist new mothers, and help older sick people.

They were also expected to do such charitable work as delivering hampers at Christmas to those in need.

Later she left the Mission to become the only nurse in the Campbell Clinic. Besides nurse, she was secretary, bookkeeper and receptionist for the three doctors, Campbell, Bryans, and Shillington. She was with them for 33 years.

When war broke out in 1939, she joined the C.A.T.S. (Canadian Auxiliary Territorial Services). She became one of many instructors in the St. John's Ambulance First Aid and Home Nursing Courses. She was among the first to volunteer for overseas service, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, then was posted to military hospitals and prisoner of war camps in Lethbridge, Red Deer, and Jasper.

She then took a short training period at St. Anne's Quebec, and was posted to the Hospital ship Letitia which made many trips across the Atlantic carrying the wounded from Britain to Montreal. They were never fired upon, even though they were followed, more than once, by German U-boats.

Lillian was in London for all the excitement of Armistice Day in 1945. She was posted back to P.O.W. Camp 133 in Lethbridge before she was demobilized. She then rejoined the Campbell Clinic, until her retirement in 1959. Retirement didn't last long as she was asked to relieve for six weeks at the Magrath Hospital, but stayed nine years.

She kept involved in community work as a member of the Board of Auxilliary Hospital for 17 years. She belonged to the Quota Club, the Lethbridge Citizen's Association, and became the City of Lethbridge's very first woman alderman in 1951. She died November 10, 1990.

John (Jack) was also born in Cardiff, Wales and came to Canada at the age of six months. At the age of nine he became the first case of infantile paralysis (Poliomyelitis) in Alberta. In 1929 he married Georgena Rorabeck, also of the White School district. They had three children, Arthur, (who died before his teens), and two daughters. Jack farmed the home Parry farm until he moved to Lethbridge about 1952.

Kathleen (Dolly) Parry (Sherwood) was the youngest child of Charles and Ellen Parry, and was the only member of the family not born in Wales. (Born April 21, 1904 - Died April 7, 1934). She along with the other children took the milk to the dairy in Lethbridge on their way to Fleetwood School.

Dolly married Ivin Roberts Sherwood of New Brunswick. For a time they worked for her father, C. E. Parry Sr., then moved to Lethbridge when the children started school. They had six children. Dolly passed away giving birth to her son. Her brother, Charles, and his wife, Wandah Parry, raised him.

Charlie married Wandah Kenney. Wandah was born in Cardston in 1902, the year Lees Creek flooded for forty days and nights.

Her father Bert, was born in Holden Utah in 1875 and died at Olds in 1956. He came to Canada prior to 1900 and settled in Cardston, later moving to Welling and Lethbridge. His wife Bertha Textorious was born in Leamington, Utah in 1881, married at age sixteen and died at Lethbridge in 1941.

Wandah took her schooling at Raymond, Alberta. The family later moved to Lethbridge where she worked at the Capitol Theatre for Mr. A.W. Shackleford until her marriage to Charles Parry in 1922. Harold Hudson was the best man.

Wandah and Charles raised three children. Another daughter, Margaret died at birth. After leaving the farm in the later 1940's, they moved to Lethbridge where Wandah passed away in 1958. Wandah was a homemaker, gifted in the skills of knitting, tatting, crocheting, sewing, cooking, canning, and rug hooking. Her great hobby was her flowers. She grew them everywhere and no visitor ever went home without a bouquet if there were blooms in her garden. She was also a humanitarian, finding good in everyone. She dearly loved children, her own and everyone else's. Because of her sister Myrtle's ill health she made a home for her nephew Bob Patterson for two years. Bob attended White School from the ages of twelve to fourteen years. Bob passed away in 1993.

I,Dena Lorraine was born September, 1924 in the old hospital on seventh avenue south. This hospital later became known as the Isolation Hospital because it housed the polio patients after the second world war. It seems that 1924 was a year that winter came early and the crops all froze in the stooks. They had to be chopped out of the ice in the spring of 1925 and threshed.

My understanding is that the first farm we were on was southeast of White School near the Oxland farm; the second and last, was a mile west and a mile north of White School. To the west was Gwatkin land (also some to the north). To the south was the farm occupied by Kate and Bill Andrews.

Our farm cornered to the original Parry farm; owned after my grandfathers death by my uncle, Jack Parry

Our farm was a quarter section. The original two story house on the farm was burned down before we lived there and a smaller house was moved out from town. That is the one we grew up in.

One of the first things I remember Dad doing was planting trees, hundreds of trees, all of which had to be cultivated with a one horse walk-behind cultivator for the first few years. The land was apparently in poor condition as dad grew sweet clover and then ploughed it under to improve the soil. If I remember correctly, our earliest crops were oats and potatoes. We had two very large root cellars that served us well in many ways, not only for potatoes and garden vegetables but for eggs that were put in crocks of ashes to be used for winter cooking. Salt pork and bacon were hung or stored there. In later years there were great bins of mangles which were chopped and fed to the pigs and cows.

The place also had a very large dairy barn. On the roof was written Superior Dairies. Dad went into the dairy business. The sheep we had earlier were discontinued but we kept a few pigs and mother always had her chickens. Because of the dairy the crops changed also, Most of the land was put into alfalfa, pasture and sugar beets. Beet tops made excellent fodder for the cattle and beet pulp (from the Raymond Sugar Factory) was available to growers.

Most of the labour for the beets was done by Hungarian people at that time. It was back breaking work, all hoeing and topping was done by hand. I still remember their great spirit, for every night about dusk, in spite of the hard day's work, they came in from the fields singing, singing all the way home. We loved to listen.

Because of the dairy and the increase of livestock, the pond was not adequate, so dad dug a new one using a team and slip scraper. It took a very long time and must have been exhausting work, but most jobs on the farm were strictly physical. All machinery was basic and horse powered. Some had seats and some had to be walked behind. Weeds on the ditches had to be cut with a scythe, hay was hand piled and hand loaded, cows were hand milked, grain, coal and beets were hand loaded, and rocks were picked and hauled with stone boats to the pile.

As there was no refrigeration, ice was the answer. It was cut from the jail lake and big blocks hauled home with a team and wagon and stored in the ice house. Each layer of ice was covered either with coal slack or sawdust.

People took a lot of pride in their work and there was always more than enough to go around. Even though we had hired men, we kids had our jobs too. We called them 'Joe' jobs because they were not very exciting. We brought in kindling, kept the coal buckets full, took out the ashes, cleaned the lamp chimneys, rounded up the chore team in the mornings, fed and watered our school ponies and sometimes got to chum or help turn the ice cream freezer. As we got older we moved up to more important jobs. Mowing, raking, piling hay, ploughing, etc. These jobs we liked, but milking and herding cows we hated. There is a well known song called "You don't know what lonesome is, till you get to herdin' cows", how true that is!

We rode horseback to school, by this time in its second location. Along the way we joined with other riders and drivers. The Sniders and Berrys who drove a buggy, the Andrews, the Webbs, Lucos, Tiffins, Handsaemes, Williams, Hamptons and Mosers to mention a few, all headed for school.

Bert and I rode double to school on our first school pony "Polly". She was cream coloured with pale blue eyes. We were told she had been a circus pony and knew all kinds of tricks. The problem was, we didn't know how to push her buttons, but she did seem to know how to untie herself, "especially if we were the architects of the knots". She soon graduated to "how to open the oat box" course. We could pile kids on her from her neck to her tail without damaging her placid personality. Too placid when we wanted a little speed; so much so that dad decided that we needed a newer model.

At Jim Hyssops' he found a little sorrel pony, a thoroughbred and Shetland cross, that was unbroken and wild as a March hare, but he moved like quicksilver. We named him Silver. He shied at EVERYTHING! He dumped us just about every day. Speed he had; cooperation was another matter, but he was great at pony races so we loved him. Bert soon got another mount and Silver was mine.

We knew all our neighbours then and the kids got together as often as possible. We played games, swam, rode horses, and got into mischief together. That old African saying of "It takes a whole village to raise a child ", applied. We were nurtured and disciplined as was necessary no matter whose place we were at.

Money was scarce. To help make ends meet, Dad graded roads with a horse drawn grader and either broke or retrained horses. We loved to sit and watch him. Horses became my passion. I believe both my brothers felt the same way, for as we progressed to lives of our own, we all had horses around whenever possible.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup