Apologies for not having posted any updates for a little while, but with a family crisis back in the UK, for which I had to organise my husbands return, plus a busy week going to concerts and a project change in work I have been unable to find the time or the enthusiasm to go out and take photos. But with Spring having finally arrived here in Alberta I finally managed to visit the Okotoks Museum and Archives; I have wanted to visit this little place since we moved here, but only managed it last week. I must say I learned a lot about our little town and the surrounding area. The best bit for me though was to find out about the building that houses the museum. The house is one of my favourites in town and I was surprised to find out that it is not actually in its original location. Due to a road widening in town the house was going to be demolished. Some of the locals decided this house was worth saving and in February 2000 they started fundraising to save the building; by July they had the funds they needed and a permanent spot 1km down the road was secured. When it was time for the big move it was a town event, with over 2,000 people enjoying a pancake breakfast and watching the house inch its way downtown.
The house was built in 1905 and is known as the Welch House, taking its name from one of its many owners G. A. Welch, who was Mayor of Okotoks from 1918 to 1921 and from 1923 to 1926. The original owners though were a group of five entrepreneurs and in 1909 they sold the house to Fanny Spencer, who in turn rented the house out to Corporal Angermann and his wife in 1915 and during that time it served as headquarters for the Royal North West Mounted Police. Other owners of this beautiful house included the town policeman Joe Miller and his wife Marie, druggist Hugh Berry, an antique store, a children’s day care and from 1989 until its relocation it was a law office.
The exterior original details have been preserved, they include gable dormers, the open veranda, and the semi-circular window frames adjacent to the front door. The house underwent an internal renovation in 2009, bringing back some of its original charm by using heritage paint colours and wallpapers. The original wooden floors are preserved under the current hardwood flooring.
The museum houses a lot of local artifacts and gives you a good understanding of life in the early days of this settlement. Back in those days they tried to entice people to settle here with the following in the Okotoks Review on 03-Aug-1906, entitled “Why you Should Settle in Okotoks District”:
“Okotoks has never known a total failure of crops. Okotoks district is never affected by drought. Okotoks district is noted for its depth of soil and quality of water and has an inexhaustible supply of coal. We have everything a farmer can look for: Soil – Heavy black loam, Water plentiful and pure, Coal = inexhaustible, Climate unsurpassed, People – prosperous & contended, Railroad – C.P.R. Are not these conditions all a man wants for the selection of a form and home. This district has not been advertised nor had any boom, therefore you can buy a farm or ranch cheap. For further particulars write or call on the Secy of the Board of Trade, or on one of the real estate agents whose advts appear in these columns.”
With such a glowing report, how could anyone resist?