Lacombe grew out of Barnett farm

Red Deer recently went through the process of developing an inventory of its historic sites. Now a similar project has been announced by the town of Lacombe.

Red Deer recently went through the process of developing an inventory of its historic sites. Now a similar project has been announced by the town of Lacombe.

Germane to Lacombe’s inventory is the. history of the 1895 survey of the townsite, the survey that created the first residential lots and the layout of streets and avenues, complete with names, for the heart of downtown Lacombe.

The name Barnett is familiar to all residents of Lacombe. Indeed, it will be known to many travellers who pass through Lacombe on Hwy 12 for, within the town limits, that highway is Barnett Avenue.

Old-time residents will know that Ed Barnett was the first settler in the area. He built a Stopping House (Barnett’s Rest) on the old C&E Trail and established a ranch here before the Riel Rebellion.

The site he chose became his homestead of 160 acres. Positioned beside it was a land grant of equal size that he received for his services to the newly-fledged national police force, then named the North-West Mounted Police.

Theses two sites, the homestead and the land grant, are now the heart of Lacombe — a strip of land a half mile wide along Barnett Avenue and extending one mile north between 53rd and 45th Streets.

But few people may be aware that it was Ed Barnett who commissioned the first land survey of this property to subdivide it into lots. For information on this facet of Barnett’s life, we are indebted to Doug Barnett, Ed’s grandson, for his publication Ed Barnett Pioneer of Alberta.

Doug’s records indicate that in 1894, Ed took Augustus Meredith Nanton and John Henry Munson, both from Winnipeg, into partnership to develop his 160-acre land grant. Ed retained a 50 per cent interest with the balance divided equally between his partners.

Shortly thereafter the trio engaged Jacob Doupe, Dominion Land Surveyor, to subdivide a portion of the property into lots, complete with a network of streets and avenues. The resulting Plan 1, registered with the Dominion Land Titles Office on Sept.19, 1895, designated the southern boundary as Barnett Avenue, the north boundary as Hamilton Avenue, with four connecting streets named (west to east) Stanley, Alberta, Nanton and Glass.

This provided four blocks each containing 20 back-to-back lots separated by service alleys.

The plan also provided avenues, alleys and lots on the south side of Barnett Avenue. The avenues named Allan, Mathias and Dolmage, are now known as 49A, 49B and 49C. Since this land was railroad property, registered in the name of the C&E railroad, it seems evident that the railroad was party to the Doupe survey.

Two years later, the partners hired Allan Patrick DLS to survey the remainder of the land grant quarter section into 80 residential lots and six parcels, five large and one small.

The latter was the northwest corner of the quarter-section intersected by the C&E Trail. This Plan 1a was registered Jan. 25, 1900.

The residential lots were located immediately north of the initial plan (ie. fronting on Hamilton Avenue) and bounded on the north by Oliver (now 52nd) Avenue. A new street, Gourlay, was added to the east of Glass Street.

Howard Fredeen

Maskipitoon, the Lacombe and District Historical Society

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