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DAWE: Mayor Percy Ernest Kent

Long-time Mayor Percy Kent was one of the most colourful and interesting early residents of North Red Deer. (Photo by Red Deer Archives)

It is often forgotten that for more than forty years, North Red Deer (now Riverside Meadows) was an incorporated village, separate from the City of Red Deer. One of the most colourful and interesting early residents of North Red Deer was its long time mayor, Percy Ernest Kent.

Percy Kent was born on Christmas Day, 1878 in Stafford England. He joined the military and served with the Suffolk Regiment of the Imperial Army in Malta and India. Unfortunately, he seems to have developed health problems. When he tried to volunteer for the Boer War, he was deemed to be medically unfit. He consequently left the military and emigrated to Canada.

He took out a homestead near Pitcox (Hespero), west of Red Deer, in January 1904. However, homesteading did not work out for him. By 1906, he was working at Evarts. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Red Deer where he established a painting and decorating business.

He quickly became active in community affairs, particularly sports. He was elected secretary treasurer and president of the Red Deer Cricket Club. He became a member and then manager of the Red Deer Football (Soccer) Club. He also became active in the Red Deer Curling Club and served as secretary-treasurer.

Percy Kent became well known as a musician and singer. He often played the piano at various functions. He also sang at such events as the official opening of the North Red Deer Cottage School in February 1912.

In 1913, Percy Kent was elected to the North Red Deer Village Council. Six months later, he became mayor and remained in that office until 1916.

Later in 1916, he enlisted with 242 Canadian Forestry Battalion. He served in both England and France. In March 1917, he was commended for bravery by the French Army when he crawled out over breaking ice to rescue a youth who had fallen into a river.

Percy Kent returned to Red Deer after the War in 1919. On January 14, 1920, he married Catherine Electra Green, a widow. They lived in an attractive two-storey house, facing the Red Deer River, on The Boulevard, now 58th Street.

The Kents remained active in community affairs. Percy joined the Great War Veterans Association. In January 1927, he became the first president of the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. He also joined the Elks Lodge. He served as Exalted Ruler and then as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler. Catherine Kent was active with the W.C.T.U., St. Luke’s Anglican W.A. and the Order of the Royal Purple.

In 1927, Percy Kent returned to municipal politics and was re-elected to the North Red Deer Village Council. In 1931-1932, he became mayor of the Village again.

Catherine Kent became quite ill in the early 1930’s and Percy stepped down as mayor. Catherine died in February 1937 at the age of 66. She is buried next to her first husband in the Red Deer Cemetery. Percy continued on with his work with sports, the Elks and the Legion. He retired from his business in 1948. He passed away in January 1949.

The Kents had always been noted for their generosity. As they had no children of their own, when he passed away, Percy Kent left his properties to the Elks Lodge. The proceeds of this gift were put into a charitable trust fund for the benefit of local children. The Percy Kent Memorial Fund continues to this day.

Kent Street in the Kentwood subdivision in North Red Deer is named in honour of Percy Kent.