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Ralph Shultz Thompson and
Beatrice Leona (Jones) Thompson

Pinepound Reflections - A History of
Spring Coulee and District
page 337
compiled by Committee

Leona was born July 24th 1898 in Muncie, Indiana. Ralph was born on December 27th 1891 in Brewster, Kansas. Ralph was the son of William and Clara (Shultz) Thompson, Leona the daughter of Charles and Lola (Hunt) Jones.

Ralph, his father and brother Harlan came to Spring Coulee in 1903 when he was twelve years old. They came by train in a box car with belongings and two horses. He said that there had been tremendous rains that spring and there were ponds and lakes everywhere, and that the grass was up to the horses bellies. There were thousands of ducks. It had been dry in Brewster, Kansas and in Nebraska where they had been farming, and Alberta looked like paradise to them.

They had to unload the car at Lethbridge because there was only a narrow gauge railway to Spring Coulee. It was called the Alberta Railroad and Irrigation railway.

Ralph's mother taught the boys at home at first, and then Harlan went to High River and Ralph boarded with the King Family at Raymond, and with Rev. Chas. McKillop. Then he too went to High River for one term, and then to the Calgary Institute at Calgary. After graduating from there he went to Stanford for one year, then to Wisconsin University for one year, and to Cornell for two years, but had to come home shortly before he finished at Cornell to manage the farm at Spring Coulee.

Leona and Ralph were married December 25th 1918 in Spokane, Washington and traveled to Ralph's home in Spring Coulee, Alberta where they spent the first year in the big Thompson house in the coulee a half mile west of Spring Coulee. At this time, this was the ranch headquarters. Farming was done with horses, and the Thompson buildings in the coulee included two barns and harness shed. Near the house there was a large spring that supplied clear cold water. This spring gave the town of Spring Coulee its name.

The Clara C. Thompson Company was composed of eight farms, and after Harlan went to California, Ralph managed Harlan's four farms, and the cattle and sheep. Part of the farm adjoined the Mclntyre Ranch but was sold.

In 1919 Ralph as farm manager went through the toughest year in Alberta's early history. Crops were a total loss and the following winter blizzards took their toll of thousands of Southern Alberta cattle.

A son, (named after Ralph's father) was born to Ralph and Leona, February 7th 1920. The years that followed were busy ones for Ralph and Leona. Both were active in church and school affairs. They also were active in community and social activities. Their house became one of the Sunday evening headquarters for socials. Guest speakers were often invited from outside points. Leona became an active member of, the Lethbridge Mathesis Club and remained a member until her passing in 1991. This club required that its members take turns reporting papers each month on a variety of topics (history, literature, art and music) to mention a few.

Ralph was secretary of the Spring Coulee School Distnct for many years.. Both Ralph and Leona were active schoolboard members over the years.

Ralph was president of the Magrath Lion's Club once and one of the early members of the Magrath Hospital Board, as well as a member of the Magrath Irrigation Board.

Leona became interested in the young people of the community and formed two church clubs. One for the young girls (called the Sunshine Girls) and the other for the young boys (called the White Knights). Both clubs were a big success, and in later years members often returned to visit Leona.

Ralph was a Sunday School teacher for eighteen years and a chairman of the United Church and an elder. He farmed until his death in December 1979 although he lived in Lethbridge the last twelve years.

Leona died April 18, 1991 in Cardston.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup