Fred Anquetil standing in his crop of oats on his farm in the Burnt Lake district west of Red Deer in 1923. (Red Deer Archives photo)

Fred Anquetil standing in his crop of oats on his farm in the Burnt Lake district west of Red Deer in 1923. (Red Deer Archives photo)

Michael Dawe: Fred Anquetil was a faithful celebrants of St. Patrick’s Day in early Red Deer

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. It is an occasion celebrated by millions of people, regardless of whether they are Irish or not. One of the most faithful celebrants of the day in early Red Deer was Fred Anquetil.

Frederick Anquetil was born on March 27, 1884, but not in Ireland, but rather on Alderney in the Channel Islands. He emigrated to Canada in 1906 and homesteaded in the Leslieville area west of Red Deer.

It was not a great experience. He spent the brutal winter of 1906-07 in a tent. At one point, the snowfall was so heavy that Anquetil and his partner, Arnold Brookes, could not find their tent as it was buried under the drifts.

In order to make some cash, Anquetil worked for a neighbour, making $1 per day and “lots and lots of porridge.” Anquetil slept in a homemade cot, nestled in the eves, above the kitchen.

Most of the work on the homestead involved breaking land with four bulls. Anquetil later wrote that he broke more harness than land. He also spoke of the clouds of mosquitoes and bulldog flies, so thick that blood was often streaming down his face.

Not surprisingly, Anquetil decided to give up the homestead and briefly went back to Britain. However, he was soon back in Red Deer. He briefly went into partnership with Sam Wilson in the Alberta Meat Market.

Anquetil got a job as a constable with the Red Deer Police Department. He also worked as the sanitary inspector and manager of the farmer’s market. During the tight budget years at the start of the First World War, city council found that instead of laying Anquetil off for the winter, as directed, the Board of Health had kept him on. Council was forced, however, to temper its anger by the fact that Red Deer recorded some of the lowest health and sanitation problems of any city in Alberta.

In 1916, Anquetil decided to enlist in the 187 Battalion. He then transferred to the 37 Forestry Company where he attained the rank of sergeant. In December 1917, near St. Quentin, France, he was injured when an anti-aircraft shell exploded next to him. The incident gave him a case of shell shock (PTSD). He also remained very hard of hearing for the rest of his life.

Once back in Red Deer in the spring of 1918, Anquetil was rehired as a night constable and the sanitary inspector. However, he was soon stricken with the dreaded Spanish flu, from which he eventually recovered.

Anquetil, with his wife Agnes and daughter Gretchen, then took up a farm in the Burnt Lake area. Again, the farming venture was not a success. In 1924, he decided to move back into Red Deer. Anquetil and Agnes became active in the Horticultural Society and won many awards for their garden.

In 1926, Anquetil got a new job as the manager of the Legion in Red Deer. He began an annual tradition of painting the public fountain on Ross Street green for St. Patrick’s Day. The fountain was a large cast iron affair with an outlet for people, a small step-up for children, a large street side trough for horses and a small overflow basin for dogs. It is unclear how Anquetil managed to get the paint to stick in the years when the weather was very cold.

Anquetil loved practical jokes. Often when he painted the fountain green, he would add some of the paint to the door handles of the nearby businesses. He made sure that the paint would still be wet when people arrived for work on St. Patrick’s Day morning.

In 1938, the beautiful old fountain was removed and replaced with a small porcelain one. The original was sent to the city yards for storage. After most people forgot what the large piece of green iron was, it was disposed of for scrap.

Anquetil remained as manager of the Legion until 1947 when he retired. In 1949, he and his wife Agnes moved to Calgary.

Anquetil passed away in July 1969 at the age of 85 and was buried in the Field of Honour in the Burnsland Cemetery. Agnes passed away in January 1979 at the age of 90.

Anquetel Street and Anquetel Close in the Anders Park subdivision were named in honour of Fred Anquetil, although unfortunately, a mistake was made in the spelling of the name.

Red Deer historian Michael Dawe’s column appears Wednesdays.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo
City of Red Deer expediting patio application process for restaurants

The City of Red Deer is allowing businesses to install patios prior… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Ediburgh, left, look on as Manitoba Beaver peaks out of his box at a July 14, 1970 ceremony in which Hudson's Bay Company observed an old tradition. The death of Prince Philip has reminded a small French village in Manitoban about how a royal visit half a century ago made the community the centre of frog racing in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prince Philip’s frog-jumping legacy in a Manitoba French community

WINNIPEG — The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has reminded… Continue reading

The Yukon provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for Canada's fourth election held during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon residents set to vote in fourth election held in Canada during pandemic

WHITEHORSE — Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole, former PM Harper speak on ‘build back right’ for pandemic recovery

OTTAWA — Top Tory leaders of the past and present will speak… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals set to debate universal basic income, pharmacare, OAS hike

OTTAWA — Grassroots Liberals have taken up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call… Continue reading

Students enter the Pierre Laporte Secondary School as secondary school students return to class full time during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Monday, March 29, 2021. Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a year of missed social connections that would typically help them mature and regulate their emotions, says a psychiatrist calling for more education on coping skills as part of the school curriculum. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Teach students coping skills to deal with anger, including during pandemic: doctor

Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

jobs - T - 3-6-2020
Finding a job: 3 job search truisms you need to accept

A job search has many moving parts; your mindset is the most… Continue reading

Most Read