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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 11, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta 16 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Tuesday, July 11, 1972 Few people in southern Al- bert a have heard of Devil's Lake, hut if it hadn't been for the North Dakota community there might not be a town of Claresholm today. With the challenge of the new frontiers of the west in his blood, 0. J. Amundsen arrived fi-om North Dakota in 190! and settled some 50 miles north of Lethb ridge. The urge to conquer and an Intense desire to keep moving, both inherent traits of the Norsemen, subsided when he saw the expanse of rolling foothills to the west and the rich, brown soil on the flatlands to the cast. Amundsen leased prairie land from the CPR; he was instru- mental in the joining of the Calgary-Edmonton railroad and the northward pusliing Cana- dian Pacific. From the lands he had purchased and leased. Amundsen had building sites and a portion the townsite sur- veyed. It was in 1902 that the first major influx of settlers came to Claresholm and district. The site selected for the new town was once a slough hollom. Although he had Hi lie time to spare because of the boom in C 1 a r c K h o 1 m and district, Amundsen still found time to keep in close touch with his home town in Dakota. Many new settlers from the Dakotas, particularly the Devil's Lake region, en me hi Claresliolm and district be- cause they had been influenced by Amundsen. Ranches It wasn't long before some of the largest rcanches in the Ca- nadian west were n reality in the foothills region west of Clarcsholm. The Oxley Ranch complete willi its own post of- 44 Ilanch, Flying E and Canyon ranches were but a few. There was no looking back for Clarcsholm, and by 1903 it had reached village status. It was incorporated June 15. But even though it had reach- ed this milestone, much of the color of the old West remain- ed with the community. One day in 1904 cowboy Jce Gallagher drifted into town and was overcome by solitude. As the stories of Claresholm's history are retold, they say Joe shot up the town. Nowhere is there any mention of anyone getting hurt. Gallagher simply wanted to wake up the sleepy little town. But, the were on the job. Gallagher was subdued and shoved behind bars to cool his heels. It was in 190.1 that Clares- holm's first school a one- roomed effort was built, and from then on the youngsters were to be off the streets dur- ing school hours. In 1907 the Claresholm Turf Association was organized and the sport of kings took real hold. years For awhile there was consid- erable talk of having closer links with the United States. The Great Northern Railway shuttled from Uooseville, Mont., to Fcrnie, B.C. in the Koo- tunnys. The old iron horses couldn't in o v c rent pay loads without coal, and Fcrnie was the source of supply. The talk was I hat the Great Northern should come through the Great Divide west of Claresholm. But, nothing more than talk was re- solved. As it was for so many other southern Alberta communities, the war years were boom years for Claresholm. This was par- ticularly true for the years of the Second World War. Clarcsholm's service flying training school under the Com- monwealth air training plan came into being with thousands of air force personnel from throughout the Commonwealth and W2sl ern Europe receiving their basic training at the new facilities southwest of the town. The training of the air person- nel continued until well after the war, and for some time Clareshohn was a key instruc- tion centre in the west. The final closing of the base hit Claresholm hard, but with the exception of some levelling out spans the town forged ahead. At the old aii-port, where hun- dreds of aircraft were once housed, there's one of the largest mobile home and trailer manufacturing plants in opera- lion. The plant, and some allied industries, now occupy all the large airport hangars. Past year The past year will go down in history as a period of notable growth and progress for the town. The Oldmnn Ttiver Re- gional Planning Commission, which inapped out the general plan for the town, says in its report: ''The primary fund ion of Clarcsholm is to serve as a market rc'.itre providing per- sonal commercial services to the residents within the trade area "And, residents of the region arc agreed: Clarcsholm is their service CLMitrc and growing each year to provide better ser- vice." Building permits to the end of August last year, the last pe- riod that official figures are available for, totalled or an average of per capita. Residential construction to- talled Institutional con- struction was and com- mercial projects One of the most modern res- idential subdivisions of its kind in the province, Claresholm's mobile home block is now occu- pied by 27 units. Each unit has a full-sized lot, and the subdivi- sion stands out as csthetically pleasing. The subdivision has a total of 42 lots. Mayor Ernie Patterson says the bright spot in growth is that the industrial tax base for the town is expanding also. Industries One of the fastest-growing and most progressive industries with the largest payroll in town is Safeway Shelter Systems Ltd., formerly Watson Indus- tries. Safeway is one of Can- ada's major builders of mobile homes and has now expanded into the manufacture of port- able commercial and industrial structures. Its employment role is now well over the 300 mark and the company is look- ing for another 100 employees. Another industry that has joined Safeway in the hangars at the old airport is Sports Craft of Canada Ltd., operated by Charles Kelly. This company has been highly successful in the manufacture and distribu- tion of sailboats. Plans call for the introduc- tion of new lines, including a 22-foot cabin cruiser. Sports Craft represents an investment of some Last year the company had sales totalling This year that figure is expected to exceed the 000 mark. Growth The town's main business section is also meeting the challenges o[ growth. Opened during the past week was a Gull service centre and there's a Husky service station, restaurant and motor hotel complex under way. To meet the demands of the growing beef cattle industry, Dr. Al Martin has opened a veterinary clinic. It has been decided that the new Claresholm General Hospital is to have a 50-bed capacity to stait with. Challenge Homes of Edmon- ton will proceed tliis year with a 15-unit low cost housing pro- ject. Estimated cost is The same developer has an op- lion on another piece of proper- ty on which it intends to develop a 15-unit apartment block. Other industrial developers at the airport include True Joist Western Ltd manufac- turers of roofing and floor sys- tems and some other indus- tries which manufacture com- ponents for the major builders. Claresholm's Alberta hospital complex is one of the largest in the province and lias a pay- roll in excess of 200. Gross income of the town's work force last year was eval- uated at million. It has a trading area population of 000. Retail trade during llio past year was valued nt million. There are eight major industrial plants which last year produced products valued at million, Clnrcshnlm ;s served by mod- ern highway, rail line, bus ser- vices, airport and three truck lines. It's main fuel supply is natural gas, and Calgary Pow- er supplies electricity. The new composite high school belonging to the Munici- pal District of Willow Creek is centred at Claresholm. It has three parks and one g o 1 course. (Much of the above material Is derived Irom a thesis writ- ten for a "University o( Lelh- bridge course by Clarcsholm Mayor Ernie ;