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

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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.

 

 

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Central Alberta

Desperate Central Alberta kids in need of connection

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Calling all Donors and Supporters

We need your help!

In these challenging times, children and families are isolated, struggling to cope and understand, and are forced to wrestle with other mental health issues. As a Youth HQ supporter, you play a key role in ensuring the well-being of the children and families we serve. Through you we are able to cultivate authentic, caring relationships, opportunities, and connections to create a sense of belonging among and between children, adults, and community. It is times like this that reveal our true heroes – you.

Kids need Connections – Every child deserves the chance to exceed beyond the circumstances that surround them. Through our dedicated staff team, amazing volunteers, and committed donors and supporters we have been able to adapt during these difficult times and continue to meet the needs of the children and families we serve. Like many charities, fundraising has been a daunting challenge for us.  Many of our annual events have been cancelled, altered and donations are down this year.

In an effort to address our funding challenge we are asking you to consider supporting us in our efforts through this “crowdfunding initiative”.

On Giving Tuesday, December 1st we are launching the Kids need Connections Crowd Funding Giving Campaign.

Check out and learn more about this initiative.  Visit the campaign page by CLICKING HERE or by visiting our website at www.youthhq.ca.

Once on the page, you will have three options to support this ground-breaking initiative:

    1. The most obvious is to contribute (thus the CONTIBUTE  button staring back at you when the page opens up!).
    2. While we are always happy to receive any donations folks are able to make, the biggest secret to the success of a Crowd Funding campaign is to create the crowd.  This is something that every one of us is able to do at absolutely no cost.  I’m asking you to share….share….share….and then share more!  We need to get this message out to all our networks if it’s going to be successful.  Share on social media, share by email, text the link to people who don’t use either (is there actually anyone who doesn’t use social media or email???)….whatever it takes to get this shared far and wide.  And when you share, make sure you compel those you’ve shared with to do the same.
    3. The final option is to do both….contribute to the campaign and then share it out to your various networks!

You literally hold the keys to the success of this initiative in your hands!  Please do everything you can to support our efforts in this campaign. Thanks for your continued support and thank you in advance for doing anything you can do to help our cause in this challenging time. And for making a difference … for kids’ sake.

QKIDS NEED CONNECTIONS

Boys and Girls Clubs ensure children and youth are connected to others and the world around them. We aim to cultivate authentic, caring relationships, opportunities, and connections to create a sense of belonging among and between children, adults, and community.

There are more than 1,500 children and youth in Red Deer looking for connections; a mentor or someone to look up to; a safe place to go and make friends; somewhere to feel valued and a sense of belonging.

10-year-old Jamie said “I haven’t seen my friends for months and can’t remember what some of them look like”.

11-year-old Michelle said “I thought I would never see my friends and the Club again, and then the Club came to me”.

Boys and Girls Clubs are adapting to these circumstances to help ensure Kids are Connected.  We need your help. Our funds are not adequate to meet the present need.

Please Share and/or donate!

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Central Alberta

Play Bingo for the health of it!

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The Red Deer PCN has a fun initiative to help you stay in shape, be healthier, and maybe win a few prizes along the way.  Simply print off this Bingo card, complete the activities, and when you have a full row, you’re eligible to enter for some fun prizes beginning December 15th and February 1st.

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

Click to read success stories from real people who’ve used the services of the Primary Care Network in Red Deer.

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december, 2020

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