Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 5, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
Chapel of Old Fort Macleod Reg Jennings Marks Historic Occasion By AL SCARTH A Calgary construction mag- nate who partnered in bedeck- ing the province with airports, crisscrossing it with its first paved highways and strad- dling it with the Trans-Moun- tain pipeline, will open his latest project in Fort Macleod Saturday an old log build- ing. It will be 46 years since Reg Jennings first entered tlw Fort for the Golden Jubilee of the Northwest Mounted Police. In fact, Reg Jennings' arrivals there always seem to mark some historic occasion. In 1926 he returned to pro- duce the gravel for the first gravelled road between t h e Fort and Calgary. After that Ms companies partnered with Hed Dutton and built tire first roads across the Indian re- serves and generally sewed the district up with paved high- ways. That log building he is coddling you, I haven't seen it since its is a monument to another and different kind of pioneer. The original law office of Sir Frederick Hatiltain one-time premier of the Northwest Ter- ritories, Chief Justice of the Saskatchewan Supreme Court and probably the foremost pio- neer behind educational reform in the fledgling provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan now stands on its original site in restored condition. That's Reg Jennings' latest project. Now semi-retired at G7, the company timekeeper who ended up owning several giant construction firms, ex- plains: "The people of Fort Macleod have been very kind to me and I suggested a couple of years ago that I would be interested in contribu ting something to the Fort Maeleod Historical Association." The association subsequently asked Mr. Jennings to help re- store the original office of the Fort's illustrious political and educational reformer, as a last- ing contribution to the district. Now, two years later, it stands on a site attached to the Fort Macleod Museum, "right where it was built about 1885." While Alberta's "oldest living paving contractor" no longer has his own office m the town he helped join to the rest of the province, he has restored not only a landmark, but a sentimental link with an area which gave him one of his first starts. A director of several firms, Mr. Jennings also sits as chair- man of the board for Standard General CcTistruction Interna- tional Ltd. He has disposed of most of his interests in the -companies created over the last 35 years in partnership with Hockey Hail of Fame star Red Dutton, retaining only the management of Calg a r y s sprawling Chinook Shopp ing Centre in conjunction with his son. One informal supervisory position he has taken care to maintain: that of keeping a close watch over Calgary's Heritage Park. This extensive landmark is in full view from the Jennings' sixth floor spa- cious apartment. The park itself may soon be a personal link with the past for Mr. Jennings and his son, Roy, executive vice president of Chinook. Roy Jennings hopes to relocate a certain set of barber chairs to the park. They belonged to his grand- father. Visit To The Fort A Must For All "My father was quite a chuckles the senior and also well travelled Jen- nings: "From southern Sas- katchewan to northern Sas- katchewan to southern Alberta to northern Alberta. He did a little bit of everything. He was a barber by trade, but along with the shop he ran a billiard hall amd bowling alley." The Jennings hope to bring the chairs, now in Foremost, bo the Barons Billiard Hall which has been relocated to the park and in which partners Jennings and Dutton are sched- uled to hit the first relocated cue balls when it opens. There is one other nostalgic event Reg Jennings isn't likely to miss. He made it to the Golden Jubilee of the famo-as mounted predecessors to the B.CMP and bis own fiftieth an- niversary with Fort Macleod's 100th is only four years away. By MARGAKET I.UCKIIURST Herald Staff Writer I have a natural interest in the value of the preservation of the historical sites in Canada, probably because I grew up along the Red River where early Selkirk settlers fought weather, locusts, starvation and Indians. I was born a short distance from Lower Fort Garry, the one remaining stone fort in North America, and as a child entertained all kinds cf tales of fur traders fighting off the In- dians from the hnstior.s- I could see from our living room v.-in- dow. When I got older, and wiser. I was very disappointed to find that not a single shot had ever Ixx-n fired from or- at the by that time, natives and settlers had come to terms with each other. In later years I was to live near the fort built by Cham- plain on St. Helena's Island in the St. Lawrence River. This later was the site of Expo '07. Twenty miles further south of our home, was Fort Chambly, on the Richelieu River, a stout fortress built in 1665 by Jacques de Chambly and used as a bastion against invaders who were envious of the prosperity in Now France. During the American invasion of 1775 the fort was the scone of some fierce action, and again during the war of Many forts have disappeared however. Seme were nh'ai'.dm- eil, otlici's burned or tern down for more useful purposes bv re- sourceful homesteaders. It is fjralifyins then, with this fate of our early history in mind, that the people of Fort Macleod have seen fit to pre- serve at great financial outlay and historical research, the post built by the North West Mounted Police. A tour of the fort should be on the list of all southern Al- bcrtans this summer. As you step through the gates into the stockade, you stop back literal- ly, nearly lot) years. The restor- ation has been exacting without permitting too austero an at- mosphere to invade it, leaving the visitor feeling 'sorry1 for the early residents. i.s made at Ka- which is a long low building (hatched in grass, and is the only building near the fort which can boast of original materials left in it. This house, which stood outside the general area of the second fort, (built in 1884) purportedly was used for illicit back in the whiskey -smuggling, hard living days. Household artifacts, early pioneer furniture aaid clothing, Indian primitive kit- chen utensils have been gather- ed from near ard far in Alber- ta and are carefully and artis- tically displayed in Kansuse House. Further along, the Chapel, Blacksmith's Shcp, Doctor's Of- fice, and HaulUin's Law office all exhibit memorabilia cf their trade or sc'irie of which causis the viewer to give a silont cheer for mddern ad- vanccmerl! The main contains diorama of the. original forts; portraits ar.d picliires of early NWMP; vanlely of shotguns, pistols ami Indian weapons; display cases with carefully dis- played documents referring to the times; and, striking a rath- er pathetic note, wooden grave markers from the graves of the young who stood for law and order and the do-it- yourself rule of the plains. The- markers were replaced later with more servicable ones that would stand up under wind and weather. Other forts haven't too much history left to boast about. Some have been used merely as backdrops fur historical set- tings whose authenticity can sometimes qucstiomed. Fort Macleod not cnly can pride it- self on ils faithfulness in re- production, but it can also be assured of its ccr.timd.ng inter- est through the colorful men who make up our Mounted Police.