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Red Deer’s strong connection to Lord Strathcona’s Horse


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In my role as Honorary Lieutenant Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, I’ve been brushing up on my local military history.  In a recent visit with Michael Dawe, former Archivist for the City and newly-minted City Councillor, he told me about our city’s connection to the the Lord Strathcona’s Horse and the story of Angus Jenkins, the first member of the Regiment killed in action.  Here’s the first of 3 stories we’ll feature leading up to Remembrance Day this Saturday.

(by Michael Dawe – Photos courtesy Red Deer Archives unless noted)

Red Deer has a strong historical link with the Lord Strathcona’s, going back to the original creation of the regiment. In 1900, Lord Strathcona (Donald Smith), one of the founders of the Canadian Pacific Railway, offered to fund the raising of the regiment for service in the South African (Boer) War. Men across Western Canada and from Red Deer enthusiastically applied for enlistment in the new unit.

It was not hard to figure out the popularity of the Ld.S.H. It was a Western Canadian regiment, not one based elsewhere. It was a unit of cavalry/mounted rifles. The free-wheeling mobility of such a military unit was attractive to the cowboys who made up a sizeable portion of Central and Southern Alberta’s population at the time.

According to the Calgary Herald, 17 men from Red Deer and district applied for enlistment and 9 were accepted in the Ld.S.H. The regiment arrived in Cape Town in April 1900. They went into action in June as part of General Buller’s Natal Field Force.

Bad news started to reach Red Deer shortly thereafter. Archibald McNichol, of the Balmoral district on the east side of Red Deer became ill with enteric (typhoid fever). He passed away at Newcastle, South Africa on June 19, 1900.

On July 1, 1900 (Dominion Day), Angus Jenkins, also from Balmoral,  was killed in an ambush near Waterval. He was the first member of the Lord Strathcona’s to be killed in action. His funeral was attended by the Earl of Dundonald and Sir Sam Steele, the commanding officer of the Ld.S.H.

On September 4, 1900, Charles Cruickshank, another young man from Balmoral, was killed in an enemy attack near Badfontein. He, and five others of the Ld.S.H. who were killed that day, were buried on the banks of the Crocodile River.

In the fall of 1900, a decision was made to build a hospital in Red Deer as a memorial to the three young men of the Ld.S.H. who had lost their lives in service overseas. Lord Strathcona made a large donation to the project. When the Red Deer Memorial Hospital officially opened in April 1904, a large marble plaque was erected in the hospital so that the three young men would never be forgotten.

The veterans of the Ld.S.H. had a significant influence on Red Deer after the end of the Boer War. A.T. Stephenson became the first Town/City Commissioner in 1908,. He was the most important person in the running of municipality for the next  27 years, despite on-going ill-health due to the  malaria which he had contracted while in South Africa.

When the First World War broke out in the summer of 1914, many local young men flocked to enlist in the cavalry/mounted rifles, but they mainly joined the 35 Central Alberta Horse/ 5 Battalion.  Nevertheless, some, such as H.B. (Ted) George joined the Ld.S.H. Ted George not only survived his service in the trenches of the Western Front. He narrowly escaped being killed in the terrible Halifax Explosion of 1917.

The strong connections between Red Deer and the Lord Strathconas continued for many more years.  Lionel Page, who had been a student in Red Deer and then farmed what is now the Rosedale subdivision, became a highly decorated veteran of the First World War. After the return of peace, he enlisted with the Ld.S.H. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and became the Ld.S.H.’s commanding officer in 1929. During the Second World War, he became the Commander in Chief of the Canadian Army’s Atlantic Command.

The distinguished service of the Lord Strathcona’s to Canada has continued through the Korean Conflict, peace-keeping in Bosnia and, most recently, the war in Afghanistan.

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President Todayville Inc., Honorary Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Director Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) musician, photographer, former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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Empowered, Happy and Healthy

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Michelle lost a kidney to cancer 20 years ago. Her blood pressure has been challenging to keep in a healthy range since. A busy life with little focus on healthy got her in trouble. In late December 2020, she ended up in emergency with extremely high blood pressure in the 200/150 range and a blood sugar of 25. She was very sick. She had a second similar episode in January. At that time, she was let go from her job. This turned out to be the best thing that happened as she now had time to focus on her health.

The RDPCN family nurse recommended she attend Diabetes the Basics as well as providing her with ongoing one-to-one support for several months. She also got connected to a weight management program, supervised exercise and Heartwise.

Fast forward to 18 months, she has decreased her clothing size from 20 to 14. Her blood sugar is now 7 and her blood pressure is in the range of 138/95. Great improvements!

She is back to work. She walks about an hour per day and she feels amazing! She has used the portion control plate to help improve her eating habits. She is eating way better and enjoying it. One thing she could not give up was Pepsi. She used to have at least 3 cans per day. Now she uses Diet Pepsi in much smaller volumes, but she cannot get by without some Pepsi. Long-lasting insulin and using the Libre sensor have been great tools to help her live healthily. She feels very empowered, happy and healthy!!

Learn more about the Red Deer Primary Care Network. Click here. 

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Red Deer Recovery Community will offer hope for residents from Central Alberta and around the world

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Central Albertans won’t be the only ones paying close attention to the official opening of the Red Deer Recovery Community next month. According to Marshall Smith, Chief of Staff to Premier Danielle Smith, jurisdictions from across North America will be looking to the Red Deer Recovery Community for potential answers to their own issues. Red Deer Recovery Community will be the first of 11 the province is opening over the coming months.

Cities across North America and beyond have been battling an addictions crisis, and losing. As the number of homeless people and the number of fatal overdoses continues to rise, cities are looking for new solutions. After years of slipping further behind, Alberta has decided on a new approach to recovery and Marshall Smith has been leading the charge.

Smith is a recovering addict himself.  A political organizer from BC, he once worked for former Premier Gordon Campbell.  His own crisis started with alcohol, then moved to cocaine dependency before he eventually succumbed to methamphetamine use.  The successful political operative found himself without work and living on the street for over four years. Eventually he benefited from a 35 day stay in a publicly funded recovery centre in BC.

Former Alberta Premier Jason Kenney brought Smith to Alberta to head up the UCP’s addictions and recovery file.  His personal experiences and incredible comeback story are at the heart of Alberta’s new approach.

While the success of recovery programs vary, Marshall Smith and Dr. Christina Basedow of the Edgewood Health Network (operators of Red Deer Recovery Community) say with the right treatment and the right amount of time, they expect a very high rate of successful recoveries.  Smith says the province won’t give up on patients, even if some have to go through more than once.

The Recovery Community is central to this new approach, but patients who will be able to stay for up to a year, will need somewhere to go when they leave. This week the province also announced the Bridge Healing Transitional Accommodation Program in Edmonton.  This “second stage” housing will ensure former addicts have a place to stay upon leaving addiction treatment centres. This will be their home in the critical days following treatment when they need to reestablish their lives by finding work or educational opportunities.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston feels the 75 bed Recovery Community will be transformation for Central Alberta. Mayor Johnston says all Central Albertans will play an important role in helping former addicts when they leave the Recovery Community.

Construction of the Red Deer Recovery Community is all but complete.

Thursday, municipal and provincial politicians toured the facility and were introduced to the operators of the new facility. Dr Christina Basedow, Western VP of Edgewood Health Network teamed up with Nicholas Milliken, Alberta’s Mental Health and Addiction Minister, to take questions about operations.

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan, Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston, Dr. Christina Basedow, Minister Nicholas Milliken, Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange

Premier Danielle Smith made the trip to Central Alberta to offer support for the project and see the facility first hand.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Premier Danielle Smith listen to Chief of Staff Marshall Smith 

Marshall Smith explains aspects of the Recovery Community to Premier Danielle Smith, Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Red Deer MLA’s Adriana LaGrange and Jason Stephan

In the days leading up to an official opening expected in February, Edgewood Health Network is finalizing the admission process which will see the first batch of up to 75 people suffering addictions moving into single and double occupied rooms.

Typical double occupancy room at Red Deer Recovery Community

The new 75-bed facility, will begin accepting residents battling addictions in February.  Those residents will stay for up to a full year accessing medications, programming and developing life skills.

In the meantime the province expects a recovery industry will be developing in Red Deer including second stage housing opportunities and counselling.

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