Connect with us

Community

Christmas 1924 by Michael Dawe features excellent historical photos of early Red Deer

Published

7 minute read

byMichael Dawe

Another Christmas will soon be upon us. Since people often like to recall “old-fashioned” traditional Christmases, it is interesting to look back to the Christmas of 94 years ago in 1924.

The Trimble house in the Michener Hill district of Red Deer- photo courtesy of Joan and Gary Trimble

The early 1920’s had been a tough time for Central Alberta. A severe depression set in following the end of the First World War. Unemployment soared to nearly 25%.

The Red Deer Memorial Hospital went bankrupt. The City struggled to meet its payroll even though expenses had been cut to the bone. The public school trustees went door-to-door to see if they could collect enough in delinquent taxes to pay the salaries of the local teachers.

Shovelling in the deep snow – photo courtesy of Marguerite Lerouge Watson

By December 15, temperatures plunged to -46.1° C and the following two days dropped even further to more than -50° C.

Finally, by the mid-1920’s, the economy began to slowly improve. Local farmers in particular got a boost following the organization of such cooperatives as the Alberta Wheat Pool, Central Alberta Dairy Pool and the Farmers’ Cooperative Egg Marketing Association.

The opening of the Provincial Training School (now Michener Centre), as the provincial institution for the residential care and education of mentally handicapped children, created a large number of very welcome government jobs in the community.

Sledding on the North Hill – photo courtesy of Marguerite Lerouge Watson

The hope that better times were returning created a cautious sense of optimism for the local businesses. As Christmas approached, a number of merchants put attractive displays in their store windows.

Of particular note was an elaborate display of electrical and mechanical toys at Brazier’s Store, some beautiful French ivory pieces in the window of Porter’s Drug Store, toys and hockey equipment in the window of E.G. Johns Hardware and imported English foods in the front of  Lowes’ Grocery.

Tobogganing – Red Deer Archives

Soon, the local papers were full of ads with gift-giving ideas and Christmas specials. Dolls were offered for $1 to $3 at Braziers. Johns Hardware advertised CCM “automobile” ice skates for $6 a pair. The Gaetz and Ewart Department Store sold silk hosiery for $1.95 per pair and silk bloomers for $2.75.

Ad for W.E. Lord’s Department store – ad from Red Deer News

Unfortunately, just as the Christmas shopping season was getting under way, Central Alberta was hit with a terrific blizzard on December 13. 58.5 cm of snow fell in three days and high winds created enormous drifts. By December 15, temperatures plunged to -46.1° C and the following two days dropped even further to more than -50° C. It was difficult to tell what the actual temperature was in the City as most thermometers stopped working.

The passenger trains ran several hours behind. The local schools closed for a few days. Milk, bread and grocery deliveries were often suspended. Wiltshire’s Bakery had to use a sleigh for its deliveries for the first time in four years.

Mrs. Fleming and friend on a stroll with their children’s sleighs – photo courtesy of Lindsay Fleming

Towards the end of the week, things had improved slightly. On December 18, the lows for the day were only -45.6°C. Nevertheless, local farmers found it impossible to make it into town. Many City residents remained loath to venture out of their homes.

Merchants put warm winter clothing on sale. Some put signs on the windows that said “Come In and Get Warm”. Still, the downtown area became very quiet.

Carscallen House at Christmas – Red Deer Archives

Fortunately, the weather warmed up a bit in the final days before Christmas. The local churches were able to re-stage their annual Christmas concerts and the children’s parties that had been postponed due to the terrible weather.

Carscallen children with dolls – Red Deer Archives

The Red Deer Welfare Board continued to gather Christmas hampers for the needy. Great assistance was provided by the newly-formed Rotary Club and Elks Lodge. The Rotary Club also purchased a 4-tube radio for the Christmas enjoyment of the patients at the Red Deer Municipal Hospital. It was the first electric radio to be installed in a public hospital in Alberta.

Little boy by Christmas tree – Red Deer Archives

On Christmas Eve, temperatures “soared” to just below the freezing mark. Hence, the local churches were packed for the usual Christmas Eve Services. Christmas Day was also sunny and relatively warm. Thus, people were able to get out and enjoy the outdoors, between the gift opening in the morning and the enormous family Christmas feasts later in the day.

Springvale Methodist Church decorated for Christmas – Red Deer Archives

Despite all the challenges that had beset the community, people were able to wish each other a “Very Merry Christmas” and heartfelt wishes for a better New Year in 1925.

by Michael Dawe

Michael was born in Red Deer, Alberta March 7, 1956, a fifth generation resident of Red Deer and Pine Lake. Elected to Red Deer City Council in 2017, he served as the City’s Archivist/Historian for 38 years, retiring from the role in 2017.

 

 

Todayville is a digital media and technology company. We profile unique stories and events in our community. Register and promote your community event for free.

Follow Author

Community

Skills that maintain healthy relationships

Published on

Learn ways to improve your relationship skills using the acronym DEARMAN and GIVE, from the DBT therapy perspective, presented by a PCN Mental Health Counselor, Lana.

 

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills

Learning to get along with others while also asserting your own needs is essential to healthy relationships. It can be difficult to balance your own needs and the needs of others. How can you get what you need without being aggressive or neglecting of the needs of others? There are three sets of skills you will learn to help achieve this goal: objective effectiveness, relationship effectiveness, and self-respect effectiveness.

Click here to learn more.

Inspired to be healthy

Continue Reading

Central Alberta

Judy’s story: I’m on the healthy road!

Published on

On the Healthy Road!

My journey to better health starting when my doctor told me my blood sugar was at pre-diabetes levels, my blood pressure continued to require medication and I had weight to lose.  He sent me to see the RDPCN nurse. After some appointments there, the nurse referred me to the Health Basics program.

Exercise was my downfall. Working from home, I always found something else to do rather than exercise.  Health Basics increased my awareness. I tracked what I was eating and became more aware of what I ate, when I ate and why I ate. I also realized things that would make me healthier that I wasn’t doing.  I realized being healthy is a process and I took one healthy step at a time. I also became aware of the wider variety of options for healthy lifestyle.

My husband and I visited friends over the summer and noted they had lost weight.  This stimulated us to pay even more attention to our food intake. As a result of our overall efforts, I have lost about 32 pounds and my husband has lost 37. My blood sugar is now in the normal range. I have had significant decrease in my blood pressure medication. I have more energy. I enjoy exercising more as it is easier to move around and I have less arthritis pain. Health Basics is an excellent class- it started me on the healthy road. I also have much more confidence in my future health.

Click to learn more about the Red Deer Primary Care Network.

Read more success stories from the Primary Care Network.

Better than winning the Lotto!

Better than winning the Lotto!

Continue Reading

Trending

X