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You can help City Council protect Red Deer’s historic “Parsons House”


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The beautiful two story brick home has graced the downtown corner of 49 Street and 48 Avenue for 115  years.  It’s become well known as The Parsons House, named after Dr. Richard Parsons, the home’s third owner.  For the last number of years Parsons House has been home of the legal firm Lee Inglis Albrecht.  But the property and surrounding area have been purchased for construction of Red Deer’s new Justice Centre.  The Parsons House has been designated an historic resource but that in itself may not guarantee it’s future.   For long term viability, the home will likely have to be worked into the design for Red Deer’s new court house.

The Parsons House, c. 1980. Red Deer Archives

It’s no surprise this cause is important to Red Deer City Councilor and former city archivist Michael Dawe.  Dawe says there are many examples across Western Canada of historical structures being incorporated into the designs of new buildings.  Dawe offers this short history of the home.

The Parsons House was built in 1903 on the south west corner of Mann (49) Street and Nanton (48) Avenue by Thomas Goard. He owned the Red Deer Music Company, one of the community’s very first music stores. His descendants still live in Central Alberta.
In 1904, the house was purchased by Edward and Mary Michener. Edward was mayor of Red Deer and later M.L.A. He was also later the leader of the Conservative Party in Alberta. Edward and Mary’s son Roland became Governor General of Canada in 1967.
In 1905, the Micheners started to build a large new house on the brow of the East Hill (now known as the Michener Hill subdivision). They sold the brick  house to Dr. Richard Parsons and his wife Ella. Dr. Parsons had moved to Red Deer in 1903 in anticipation of the opening of the Red Deer Memorial Hospital. He and Ella got married just before they purchased this new home.
In 1912, Dr. Parsons decided to build a large annex on the southside of the house for his medical clinic. The annex not only included an office and examination rooms, but also a laboratory and one of Alberta’s first x-ray machines.
Ella passed away in 1918 during the Spanish flu epidemic, leaving Richard as a single parent with four young children.

Dr. Richard Parsons, with his four children Margo, Ella, Bill and MacGregor. 1919. The young person on the left is unidentified. Photo from the Parsons family.

In 1920, he re-married, to Annie Forbes who had been a matron at the Red Deer Hospital.
Dr.  Richard Parsons passed away in 1944. Annie continued to live in the house until her passing in 1983.

The Parsons House, c. 1944. Photo courtesy of the Parsons family.

For a few years, The house was used as the offices of the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre.
It was later acquired by the legal firm of Lee and Short who renovated it into their firm’s offices.
In 1990, the house was designated a Registered Historic Resource.
In 2018, the house/law office was purchased by the Province as part of the assemblage of a new site for a new Red Deer Justice Centre (Court House).

Parsons House, 1915 (in the foreground are soldiers of the 12th Canadian Mounted Rifles who were training prior to departure for service overseas in the First World War. Red Deer Archives

Red Deer City Council has passed a proposed memorandum of agreement with the Province that will ensure the Parsons House is preserved when the new Justice Centre is built.  If you’d like to support this agreement to preserve this piece of Red Deer’s history,  consider sending an email to one of Red Deer’s two MLA’s and to the City saying you support the agreement with the Province.

Email addresses:

Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner – [email protected]

Red Deer South MLA Barb Miller – [email protected]

City Clerk’s office – [email protected]

Special appreciation to Michael Dawe for help with this post.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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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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