In the early years of 1907 and 1908 a great influx of settlers came from parts of the U.S.A. to Spring Coulee, among whom was Harry Jolliffe from the Isle of Wight, England-first stop with some farmers in Ontario. By 1908 he came to Spring Coulee district and was employed by George W. Culp, who had a large number of men to help with the breaking of the virgin sod of many farms around, viz the Smith and Over place, Horace Darby, H. Johnson, Tom Morrow, a few of the places known in later years. Harry soon got broncos to break and started farming on his own, of course breaking the land before seeding it. Later found himself a wife, Miss Vella Baptiste. Her parents operated the Hotel, a busy place during years of land rush.
Tennis was a popular game with many in their spare time. Harry and his brother Percy who had now come to join him from England and other players such as H.E.Kelley of the Trading Co. Store and A Embrey enjoyed tennis. A tennis court was built by H.E.Kelley and helpers on his property near the store. Trophies were won when playing teams as far away as Medicine Hat in the early 1920's.
Harry was a leader to get projects going such as when the Community Hall was built in 1927, as well as doing a large share of the work. His wife helped to solicit food to prepare meals for the many workers who came each day to work.
When the hall was finished, badminton was played. Norris Blaxall of Magrath and Harry challenged many to some fine games played there.
The Hall still continues to be used for sports, entertainment of various nature.
He and others felt need of a Farmers Elevator here so Harry was delegated to interview the Wheat Pool officials till they consented to build one here as well as to getting electricity into our town.
by Ruth Jenson
1900 - 1910
The end of the first decade in the new century saw Spring Coulee well on its way to becoming a thriving village. The land boom was in full swing, and the majority of the settlers were from the United States. They came from Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, lowa, Indiana, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. A few settlers came from the western states such as Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Washington, but almost ninety percent were from the Midwest. Land companies, the Canadian Government and railway companies had targeted these states as likely areas in which to advertise the availability of free land, and to encourage immigration.
One of the government pamphlets distributed during these campaigns declared, "respect for law and maintenance of order are very prominent features of life in Canada." An American immigrant from Ohio was quoted as saying, "You can't monkey with law here. You can't grease a sheriff's fist."
Regarding law and order in Spring Coulee, it should be noted that although there was no North West Mounted Police post on site, there were posts to the west in Cardston, and to the east in Magrath, giving the advantage of having patrols pass the village from both directions. In addition, the telephone lines connected the settlement with these posts, making access to the law a simple matter.
The prospect of cheap land for themselves and their children, the excitement of developing a new frontier, and the promise of living in a country where security and order prevailed, were compelling reasons for families to pull up stakes and move on. They came to Spring Coulee with money, equipment and experience in prairie farming. Hopes were high and 'boosterism' abounded in this land of opportunity. An early map shows the village plan with streets and avenues laid out, and many amenities included to accommodate a far larger population than was ever realized.
In 1910, Spring Coulee could boast of having three elevators, a railway depot and stockyards, a hotel, store and post office, a school, a Presbyterian church, blacksmith and machine shop, telephones, and a branch of the Bank of Montreal. Much of the enthusiasm and drive behind these accomplishments can be credited to the Thompson family which accumulated a large holding of land near Spring Coulee. They purchased a parcel here and there as it became available, and took options on other parcels. The death of William L. Thompson left a rather large life insurance benefit, and thus enabled the family to take up many of the options and increase their holding to a total of thirty-five sections.
The flow of the settlers in the years between 1910 & 1920 slowed somewhat. The land boom ended and World War I began. There were people who came in search of land, and others came to be with their families already established, and still others came to work on the irrigation canal, the C. P. R., or to operate an elevator or store. Some of these settlers were: Bert Dustin, Lee Carter, Alex Munroe, Soren Anderson, Charles and Clarence Ripley, W. Wood, George Wildman, George Malmberg and sons, Jack Curliss, William Crawford, Mike Beimler, Herman Johnson, Jack Blankenship, Albert Bossingham, Leo Chapman, Harry Bishop, Earl Inman, Bill Matson, Jim Mercer, Tinous Theis, Jesse Sherman, Elmer Beswick Jr., Claus Freeman, Bert Loveday and Bob Selby.
With the war over more people began to come from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. A few settlers moved into the district from other Canadian locations, but the U.S. immigrants still comprised the majority - a little over fifty percent. By this time, most of the land had been claimed, and there was little opportunity to buy. A small number managed to secure some land, but the majority of the newcomers had to settle for rented land, positions in farm labour, or jobs offered by the C. P.R., the St. Mary River Irrigation District, elevators, schools, stores and hotels. The large land holdings of the Thompson family provided opportunity for much employment, either as renters, or as managers and labour in many of the Thompson enterprises. New names in the district included: Al Smith, Ray Bennett, Paul Boettcher, Russell Gilchrist, Paul Dick, Lloyd Dayley, Peter Hofer, Charles Caldwell, Jim Godlonton, George Lee, Jacob Gast, William Fortner, H.A.Long and sons Roy, Ernest and Kenneth, Jim Hunter, Joseph Hofer Sr., Rene Peirens, Walter Bengry, "Pop" Schofield, Dave Hofer, Archie Johnston, Thomas McKiver, Peter Matichuk, Ernest Moulton, Anton and Joe Navratil, Tom Newton, Hans Olson, Albert Parkinson, Fred Potter, Leslie Pharis, Elmer Rusk, Lloyd Holland, Nick Larson, Fred Brestler, Ed. Lane, and Marlin Allred moved back to help his brother Milford on the farm.
The uncertain economic times and unfavorable growing conditions in the 30's slowed U.S. immigration to a trickle. The small number of new settlers were largely from other parts of Canada, and came here seeking security for themselves and their families. Some of these were Michael Salmon, Jack MacKenzie, Albert Miller, Peter Peterson, John Salberg, Fred Wagner, Cary McKenna, Bill Zacknodnick, Mike DeGinnus, George Gross, Peter Hofer, George Holladay, Harvey Anderson, Bill Baraniuk and I.V. Law.
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