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Centenary Red Deer family stories wanted

Red Deer was pretty transitory as it was becoming a city in 1913, with many families passing through to homestead or work on the railroad.

But some families stayed here to help build up the community.

And it’s the descendants of those families — an estimated 200 or so — that the Alberta Genealogical Society wants to hear from in order to compile a written personal history for Red Deer’s centenary.

Society member Linda McKay said people are often surprised to hear she was born in Red Deer, as was her father. “We tend to be called a transient city in a lot of ways . . . so people are surprised to hear that a lot of us have made Red Deer our home” for several generations.

McKay’s grandmother came here as a child with her parents from Ontario in 1911. Opportunities were plentiful for farming or starting businesses — as McKay’s forbearers did, opening a paint store on Ross Street near Gaetz Memorial United Church.

“That was considered to be just outside downtown Red Deer,” said McKay, who noted the actual “downtown” at the time was a small radius near the old train station.

The genealogical society would like other families with century-long roots in the city to share tidbits of their own histories to cumulatively paint a picture of Red Deer’s past. “We want to get a lot of different families, not just the prominent people of Red Deer,” said McKay.

“We want (to hear from) regular people whose families were making a living here in 1913.”

You never know what kind of information will turn up, she said, noting that many of the older families have interconnections they may not be aware of.

She believes these personal stories, to be put into a publication for the local library, archives and society, will “give us a better sense of what Red Deer was like 100 years ago” — as well as who lived here, then and now.

The centenary family names will also be printed on bricks for an exhibit that will be part of a fall fair planned for Heritage Ranch.

Interested families can get more information from www.rdgensoc.ab.ca or get in touch with Linda at 403-347-1605, Betty at 403-347-6351, or Ev 403-346-1918.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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