EARLY PIONEER FAMILIES
This begins the stories of Beverly’s pioneers, the families and individuals who came to Beverly for a better life and worked to achieve it. The pioneer section is a work in progress. As new information and photos come to light, stories will be added or expanded. Do you have a family history in Beverly? Is there more or better information than what is published here? Please let us know.
NOTE: All family history articles listed and accessible from this page, unless stipulated otherwise on the individual family pages, were originally published in Built on Coal: A History of Beverly, Edmonton’s Working Class Town, written by Lawrence Herzog and published in 2000 by the Beverly Community Development Society.
Abraham Abbott (1887 – 1964)
“Abbott School opened in style” read the headline in the Beverly Page as the Edmonton area’s only school named for a custodian was officially unveiled. More than 300 residents crowded the auditorium to hear Percy Lawton, Superintendent of Beverly Schools, pay tribute to Abraham Abbott, who came to Beverly in 1912, served in the First World War and then became caretaker of Beverly Central School in 1922.
It was a post he held until his retirement in 1959 – a remarkable 37 year record of service.“During these 36 years, Mr. Abbott has been a faithful servant of the schools and a true friend of the children,” Lawton told the gathering. “When I took the schools from Mr. Thomas long ago, I was told, in Mr. Abbott, you have a jewel of a man. He is the most honest and responsible individual I ever met. I have known him for 36 years and no truer words were said of anyone.”Lawton concluded his remarks by observing that, “Mr. Abbott didn’t gamble, drink nor smoke with the result that he always had some money… to give away at the most crucial moment.”
Abbott was born in Derbyshire, England in 1887 and left there in 1911, making the exodus to North America along with many other eager immigrants. He settled in Lashburn, Saskatchewan and then, in 1912, married and moved to Edmonton where the couple raised three children – Hedley, Dorothy and Clifford. For a time he worked for the City of Edmonton, until he joined the Canadian Army as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force for service in World War One.
He served overseas from 1914 to 1919 and sustained a leg injury that would be with him as a limp for the rest of his life. When he returned to civilian life, he became a custodian at the Beverly School. His son Clifford became a celebrated Second World War flier.
Mrs. Abbott died at an early age and Mr. Abbott went to live with his brother William and his sister-in-law at 4455 Ada Boulevard.Olivena Horne, a teacher at the school, fondly remembers him as an early riser. He usually walked from his home on Ada Boulevard to the school at 116th Avenue and 40th Street and she says he always went at the same time. “You could set your watch by him. He would stoke up the big black furnace with coal and get the school warm enough to house the students for the day:” Former students fondly recall “Captain,” Mr. Abbott’s faithful German Shepherd dog who went everywhere with him. After the Beverly Central School was closed, Abbott went to work at Beacon Heights and Beverly Heights Schools until his retirement March 20, 1959.
Abbott was active in the development of the Beverly Methodist Church and, in its early days, he and William Curtis, another long time resident, would erect the tent for services each Sunday. During the Depression years, Abbott helped build the United Church on 38th Street, north of 118th Avenue. In the 40’s the church was moved to 43rd Street and 118th Avenue. He remained active in the church, sang in the choir and served as a member of the church board from 1913 until his death in 1964 in British Columbia.
The school named in Abbott’s honour was built on land east of 34th Street and north of 120th Avenue purchased from the Konopacki family in 1959 for $33,000. Designed by J. Gardiner of Patrick Campbell-Hope and Associates, construction commenced in December 1959 under the supervision of Whitham and Company contractors. The school was completed in August 1960 and readied for the start of the school year. Official opening was October 26, 1960
Gustav C. Bergman (1872 – 1962)
Gustav Bergman was the first elected mayor of Beverly, Alberta after Beverly was incorporated as a town in 1914. He was born to Swedish American parents in Paxton, Illinois. His mother was killed in an accident with a train when Bergman was only seven years old. Because his father was unable to care for him, he was forced to work. He later attended Drake University.
He moved to Canada in the early 1900s, settling first near Erskine, Alberta, before moving to the Beverly area in 1912. He bought 36 lots in Beverly’s Beacon Heights subdivision. When Beverly incorporated as a town in 1914, he ran for mayor, was elected and served a single term. During his term, Beverly’s police force and fire brigade were established.
In 1917, he moved back to Erskine and took up farming. Bergman returned to Edmonton briefly in 1962 to attend the ceremonies marking Beverly’s amalgamation with the City of Edmonton. He died later the same year and was buried in Edmonton. The Edmonton neighborhood of Bergman, located just to the north of the old Beverly townsite, was named in his honour in 1987.
Louis Jr. was born May 7, 1884 in St. Ours, Quebec. At a young age he and his wife Rose went to Southbridge Massachusetts to learn the blacksmith trade. In 1920 he opened a blacksmith shop in Plamondon Alberta and over the years he and Rose raised nine children.
Louis worked in Colinton Alberta as a hotel manager, then moved to Fort Saskatchewan and worked as a bartender and also a security guard on death row in the jail. When his wife died, Louis moved to Calgary as a tool maker during the war.
In 1935 he moved to Beverly where he married his second wife Mathilda who was also a tool maker and resided at 4834-115 ave. Louis worked at the Beverly Mine as a blacksmith from 1937 to 1944 before he went to work for Standard Iron Ltd as a blacksmith.
In 1947 and 1948 he was on the Beverly School Board with W.E. Curtis (chairman) Alec Plesuk, Gordon MacDonald, George Elaschuk, Chas. E. Floden and Frank J. Glossop was the secretary-treasurer. Louis and his wife bought a house in 1949 at 4811 115 Avenue.
When Louis retired in 1955, he ran for town councillor against Jack Ervin and John Shen. In 1959 Louis and Mathilda moved back to Plamondon.
Dan and Anastasia Danilowich
Dan and Anastasia Danilowich and their families arrived in Beverly in 1912. Dan had been born in Toorod, Ukraine on December 24, 1883 and, while still a teenager, was drafted into the Austrian Army, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant in three years’ service. He married 19-year-old Anastasia Proch February 23, 1908 and the couple and their families left for Canada in June of that year. They settled in Manley, Alberta and, in 1910 through 1912, Dan and his brother-in-law worked with a team of oxen laying track from Edson through Entwistle, Carrot Creek and Carvel.
In 1912 Dan moved his family to Beverly where he worked as pit boss in the Humberstone mine. But, in the fledgling community, Danilowich apparently realized the potential of the retail business and he and his brother John constructed the first general store in Beverly. The store boasted an ice house at the back, where huge blocks of ice were stored to keep meat and perishables fresh. The family lived above the store, which opened at eight in the morning and closed at 10 in the evening. In these cramped living quarters they raised 13 children, born between 1909 and 1933. They lost four of their children while still infants and son Michael died when he was just five.
The first post office in Beverly was started in the warehouse attached to the store but later was moved to a building at 40th Street and 118th Avenue. Long time residents remember the Danilowich dog, Teddy, would often fetch the mail at the new post office. “Mr. Dan”, as he was known to locals, spoke several languages fluently, including German, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, Hungarian and English and he was frequently used as a translator. His hobby was carpentry and he particularly loved to build houses and he also helped construct the Night & Day Cafe, Transit Hotel and Northwest Industries.
Behind the store was a garden and a few animals – a cow, chickens and geese. Anastasia often baked buns, donuts and often called the children in on a cold winter day for hot soup or anything that she had to warm them up when they were on their way home from school. In 1930, the depression caused extreme hardship in the community and unpaid bills forced the closure of the store. Eight years later, Kelly Douglas and H.H. Cooper Wholesale Grocers offered backing to reopen the business. Danilowich then operated the store until 1952, three years after Anastasia died on October 29, 1949. He retired to his beloved carpentry and rest in the garden and lived to be 85 years old. He died July 29, 1969.
Francesco (Frank) and Ermelinda De Filippo
Francesco (Frank) De Filippo, was born in a small, beautiful town in Calabria, Italy called Olivadi in May, 1885. His parents were poor farmers who had six children. Two of the sons – Paul and Vito – emigrated, with Paul going to the US and Vito coming to Canada.
In 1903, upon turning 18, Francesco would have been conscripted into the Italian army. However, being a rather rebellious, independent thinker who did not blindly follow orders without asking “Why?”, he would not have been a good candidate and “probably would have been shot for insubordination” to quote one of his brothers. Knowing this, his older brother, Paul (who was already in the United States) sent for him. He arrived in Boston in February of 1903 at the age of 17. He spent several years working in the northeast US as a lumberjack and as a labourer on various railroads.
Around 1907, he and Paul came to Canada and laid tracks for railroads in northern Ontario and Manitoba. In 1908 or 1909, he came to Alberta where he helped put the railroad through Jasper and worked as a labourer on the Legislature Building, the High Level Bridge, and the old Royal Alexandra Hospital. By 1919, he was working as a coal miner and homesteader in Cardiff, Alberta.
In 1921, a marriage was arranged between Frank and a girl in Italy by the name of Ermelinda Scinta. Her aunt was married to Frank’s other older brother, Vito, who was living in Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay) and Vito made all the arrangements. Ermelinda had been engaged to another young man, but when he discovered that her parents could not give her much of a dowry, he married her best friend instead. Crushed, and under pressure so that her younger sister could get married (in those days girls traditionally got “hitched” in their birth order), she agreed to emigrate and wed a man she had never met – who was also much older than she was. (He was 36 and she was only 20; she turned 21 two months after their wedding.)
She left her home town of Cosenza Rende in Calabria with a friend who was also planning to emigrate and went to Naples to catch a ship for New York. In Naples, however, the other girl lost her nerve and decided to return home. Ermelinda came on alone, not knowing a word of English. After a very rough crossing, during which she was violently ill, she arrived at Ellis Island, New York in March, 1921. There, she was met by her aunt, who escorted her to Port Arthur, Ontario where she met the rest of the family and with whom she lived for about four and a half months. Francesco came to meet her about two weeks before the wedding and they were married in August, 1921.
A few days after their wedding, Francesco and Ermelinda moved to Cardiff, Alberta where they lived for nine years and Francesco continued to work in the coal mine there. They had four children, two boys and two girls, but only two survived infancy – Rosa Maria (b. December, 1922) and her sister, Paula Antonia (b. February, 1924).
In April, 1930, the family moved to south Beverly where Francesco got work in the Bush and the Beverly Mines and where he was active in the miners’ union, becoming a steward and working for improved working conditions and pay. His first homestead was at 3835 113 Ave. where he built a small, sloped-roof cabin on four acres of land and where, in addition to working as a miner, he cultivated a huge garden in which his family grew most of their food. He and Ermelinda raised potatoes, wheat, oats, and vegetables. They also had pigs, a cow, chickens, ducks, geese and – later – goats.
In 1949, Frank decided to build a nicer, bigger house. His daughter, Rose, drew the outline of the walls with a stick in the dirt and with his carpenter/builder friend, John Boychuk, Frank built his dream house. The little old cabin was sold to a Mr. Dompi who moved it to 49 St. and 115 Ave. Frank retired in 1950 from the mine at the age of 65, but continued to work, raising and selling raspberries and strawberries (an idea he got from his friend, Mr. Zaychuck).
His daughter Rose, and a cadre of kids she hired, sold the raspberries and strawberries door-to-door in pint baskets. Her “employees” were mostly the Serafin children and her friend, Eileen Rule. At the new house, in addition to the huge vegetable garden, Frank indulged his g reen thumb with beautiful flower beds (his hollyhocks grew 8 – 10 feet high) and plum trees.
Ermelinda spent her time looking after the children, tending the garden, knitting, sewing, cooking, baking, and canning. It was very much a pioneer lifestyle with oil lamps, no running water, a coal-fired furnace, and a coal stove. It should be noted that even though Frank only had a grade four or five education, he was a fanatical reader and a self-educated man. He had read many of the great classics of literature and particularly enjoyed the works of H.G. Wells. As early as the late 1930s, he predicted that someday humans would land on the moon. It is rather sad that he did not live to see his prediction come true six years after he passed away. He was also interested in world events and read the newspaper from front to back, as well as magazines like Life, Maclean’s, Liberty, and Star Weekly.
Francesco and Ermelinda’s two daughters grew up, married and had children of their own. Rose had one daughter and Paula had four children – a boy and three girls. Rose became a teacher with Edmonton Public Schools and began her career at Beacon Heights School in Beverly in 1959 while Paula worked as a stenographer for the Federal Government. Rose left Beverly in 1963 (although she continued to teach at Beacon Heights until 1967), but Paula and her family remained, living in a house only one block from Frank and Ermelinda’s home. (Frank’s four acres had long-since been subdivided and developed, although the house still sits on a large plot of land in its original location.) Paula’s children all went to school in Beverly, from grades one to nine.
Francesco died in 1963, shortly after his youngest grandchild was born. Sadly, Paula passed away six years later at the age of 45 from cancer, and Ermelinda died of complications of diabetes in 1975. Their oldest daughter, Rose, passed away in 2002, also from complications of diabetes.
Frank and Ermelinda De Filippo, as well as their surviving children – Rose and Paula – were true pioneers in the town of Beverly and one of the few Italian families who were in the Edmonton area before the large influx of the 1950s and ’60s.
Charles E. Floden
When Charles E. Floden was elected Mayor of Beverly in March 1951, he was in his 72nd year. Floden was to serve three terms, retiring from office in March 1957 when he was nearly 78. It was the end of a long and fascinating life connected with Beverly – a life that began May 31st, 1879 in Sweden. His family moved to Pennsylvania when he was still a young boy and that is where he grew up.
Floden and his half brother Fred came to Alberta in 1908, drawn by the offer of 160 acres of land for $10. They landed in Wetaskiwin, went to Leduc, and walked 28 miles west where they found three sections of land near Telfordville. He stayed there until 1912, when he found work in Edmonton as a steelworker on the High Level Bridge construction project. That same year, he took up residence in Beverly and later broke horses for the coal mines.
He and his wife Selma had five children – four boys and one girl – and they lived in a house at 4002 ll2th Avenue. His strongly developed sense of civic duty compelled him to serve as member of the School Board for three terms, as a town councillor in 1932/33 and then those three terms as Mayor between 1951 and 1957. When he retired, residents petitioned council to name a park after him and they did just that in September 1959, when Floden Park at 40th Street and lllth Avenue was dedicated. Floden passed away November 25, 1960, following a lengthy illness. He was 81.
Francis (Frank) Joseph Glossop (1901 – 1967)
Frank Glossop was born in Derbyshire, England to a family of four brothers and one sister. He was educated as a bookkeeper and served in the Royal Navy. His family owned a large quarry in Ambergate and they assumed he would take up his position in the family business as the bookkeeper. However, Frank had purchased land in the new country of Canada with his earnings from the Navy and had visions of becoming a “cowboy”. He set off for Canada and arrived in Vancouver in the early 1920’s. He worked as a ranch hand in and around the Cultus Lake area of British Columbia.
In 1928, he came to Beverly to see where his land was. It was a two block area bordering on 38 street to 36 street and 105 avenue to 106 avenue where 38 street and Ada Boulevard meet. The area was covered in bush and undeveloped. He set out to secure room and board at Mr. Wilson’s home on Ada Blvd. where he met Stanley Johnson, a student at the University of Alberta. Mr. Wilson had recently leased the #46 Bush Coal Mine from A.J. Davidson and offered a job to Frank as his bookkeeper, timekeeper, and night watchman. He worked there from 1928 to 1944. The Bush Coal Mine at its peak employed 150 men, producing 400 tons of coal per day.
Frank searched the other Glossop listed in the Edmonton telephone book, and met and courted Olga Sytnik who lived with her mother and step father, John Glossop (no relation). Mrs. Glossop advised him if he had any interest in her daughter, he better have a house to provide for her!
He immediately started clearing his property in Beverly to build a home in 1929-30 at 10501 – 38 Street. That home still stands to this day. He had the coal truck drivers deliver lumber and supplies on their way back to the coal mine which was located just below the riverbank at 104th Avenue. In exchange, the drivers would stop for coffee and doughnuts that my mother provided, after the house was built. Frank also represented the Bush Mine Tigers Hockey Team that won the Coughlan Cup in 1934.
They married in 1935 and Stanley Johnson was his best man. They raised five children: – Cleone, Vera, Edward, Bertha, & Honore. During the depression and his term as timekeeper and night watchman at the Bush Coal Mine, he encountered desperate families who were without basic means of clothing, food or heat in their homes in Beverly, so he often took from his own family, including his daughters’ toys and dolls, to give to these families. He was a very thoughtful and compassionate gentleman.
There were many happy times as well. Frank and Olga started the first Dramatics Club in Beverly and had many get-togethers at their home. He raised mink, built his own greenhouse, and the family learned to thrive on planting a huge garden of vegetables that Olga canned and preserved. They also maintained a huge root cellar in the basement which was also stocked with boxes of apples from Grandfather Sytnik who lived in British Columbia. Frank also built a playhouse, merry-go-round and swing and outside fireplace and picnic area for his children and all the children in the neighbourhood. He flooded the garden area in winter for a skating rink.
Once the Bush Coal Mine closed in 1944. Frank helped out the town as School Truant Officer and assisted Tom Johnson, the only policeman, with activities related to policing. Eventually, he was appointed Secretary-Treasurer for the Beverly School Board and the Town of Beverly in 1945-1948, at a time when the Town was under the jurisdiction of the Administrator of Public Utilities Commission for the Dept of Municipal Affairs. There wasn’t a mayor elected from 1945 to 1948 so this was a very busy time for him as the Secretary-Treasurer.
Along with his duties as Secretary-Treasurer, he was also responsible for registering all lands that were bought and sold in Beverly. He had a huge map of the Town of Beverly in his den and residents would come down to identify the lot they were selling or buying and he would then go to the Land Titles Office in Edmonton and register the properties for them.
He also sold a huge part of his own property – from 106 avenue and 38 street to 36 street in the early 1950’s and that was when the Town brought in the water and sewer and gas lines into the Beverly area. Prior to this time, Sandy the Waterman delivered water every Monday to a cistern in the basement. Coal was also delivered through a coal shute into a coal room next to the coal furnace.
Frank was also instrumental in reserving the land that is now known as Floden Park. He convinced the Town administrators to reserve this plot of land along the riverbank for recreational use in the future. In 1961, this area was eventually developed as Floden Park named after Charles Floden who was Beverly’s Mayor in 1956. Frank also convinced the town administrators not to designate a cemetery in the triangle area that joins 38 street and Ada boulevard at 106 avenue. That area has remained an open space ever since.
He kept involved in the economic and political activities of the Town of Beverly while working as a bookkeeper and Secretary-Treasurer for several oil and gas companies in the 1950’s. However, his health was failing and as a result Olga was forced to work outside of the home to support the family.
Olga was an excellent cook and went on to obtain her Journeyman Certificate as a chef. She worked at the Hudson’s Bay Town Square and several restaurants in Edmonton including the Selkirk Hotel Café, Shasta Café and Ciro’s Restaurants after Frank became ill and unable to work. He promised Olga he would build her another home and in 1963-64 he contracted to build the split level home next door at 10505 38 street. The family moved in 1964 and the children planned an open house for all their family and friends of Beverly. The children of Frank and Olga Glossop all married and had families of their own. Vera and Tom Sankoff built their home on the third lot at 10509 38 street.
They eventually moved to British Columbia. Frank and Olga had nineteen grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Frank Glossop suffered with leukemia and succumbed to the illness on November 22, 1967. Olga Glossop resided in the home and kept in touch with Stanley Johnson, Godfather to her children. They eventually married and resided in the home for 10 years. Stanley passed away in 1990 and Olga lived to age 99 and quietly passed away in 2009.
Compiled and written by Lonnie Hanson
It was between 1910 and 1911 Alfred Hanson and old-time friend John Hallstrom wandered and worked together in the United States and would both end up settling in Beverly.
John Hallstorm worked with the drainage and surveying of the land helping to get Beverly started. Meanwhile, Alfred Hanson returned to Bollnas, Sweden to fetch his bride Anna Katrina Magnusson whom he married in 1913 and brought back to Canada. Alfred applied for a job at the time John Hallstrom was working in Beverly.
Alfred got a job at the Beverly Coal Mine and worked his way up to foreman. He worked there until he took ill with pneumonia. This took his life at forty six leaving two young boys Herbert Gustave age 7 and Elmer Alfred age 4 and his wife Anna Katrina to carry on in the old homestead located at 4840- 115 Avenue where Herbert was born on October 23, 1913. Herbert and Elmer’s father was born in Bollnas, Sweden in 1874.
Anna survived by selling the eggs from her chickens and milk from her two cows to surrounding neighbors and these were delivered by her two sons Herbert and Elmer. This was done on a rotation basis taking full bottles of milk to their customers while bringing back the empty bottles to once again be filled.
Anna had a relative visit them from Sweden from time to time keeping her in touch with relatives back home in Bollnas, Sweden.
As the years went on both Herbert and Elmer attended the old brick school in Beverly. They stayed close with their mother who was able to cloth and feed them on a very small income. Anna was active in the Beverly area after the passing of her husband and was awarded “Citizen of the Year “ for her toiling effort in the town of Beverly. Anna passed away on April 11, 1946 at age 76 years this was devastating to her two sons Herbert and Elmer. Florence (Herbert’s wife) always spoke of her mother-in-law well as a good person sadly missed.
Herbert met and married Florence Mortson from Waskatneau on November 16, 1940. They eventually had two son’s Dennis born May22, 1944 and Lonnie born November 24, 1949. Brother Elmer met and married Melmar Hitchcock and they had three children Gary, Brian and Brenda. All children attended their schooling in Beverly and Eastglen High School.
Herbert was active in sports during his youth while finishing his education at Eastwood School. He played hockey for the Beverly Bushmine Tigers in the 1930’s who won the commercial Hockey League championship. He also played for the Cadomin men’s league for a period in his later youth. Herbert apprenticed to become a house painter after failing a hearing exam not allowing him into the army. He owned his own decorating business “The Home Decorator” for over thirty-five years. He was an active member with the Beverly Lions Club and active community member also in baseball and hockey. Herbert was an integral part of shaping Beverly sports programs; always lending a hand when needed.
His brother Elmer went on to join the Air Force still maintained a home four doors down from brother Herbert and family. After the Air Force, Elmer was a town councillor in Beverly located next to the old police station on 118 avenue and 38 street for a number of years then was employed by Swifts on 66 Street and 125 Avenue until his retirement years later.
Both Herbert and Elmer were involved in the Swedish society in the 1960’s. They attended meetings and yearly luncheon. The boys were proud of their Swedish heritage.
Herb and Florence’s sons Dennis and Lonnie both played baseball and hockey in Beverly while growing up as young boys.
Dennis played juvenile baseball sponsored by the Beverly Drakes and juvenile hockey for the Maple Leaf Athletic Club. Lonnie meanwhile played little league for Whalen construction and house league, peewee and bantam hockey in 1961 on Beverly Bantam C Championship team. Lonnie was brought up from peewee to play against Capilano in the old Edmonton Gardens which was quite a thrill for the youngster.
Lonnie played bantam and midget for the Maple Leaf Athletic club during his youth. He then coached Bantam AA with the Maple Leaf Athletic club from 1982 until 1986 with the Boston Pizza sponsored team and the Edmonton Police Association sponsored team.
Both Denis and Lonnie played for the Turbo Oilers in 1971-72. This was a championship winning team I the commercial Hockey League, in seven games against the WW Arcade at Santa Rosa Arena which their father Herbert Hanson was helping with equipment and managing with three other coaching staff.
It is interesting how both Herbert in his youth won the Commercial League trophy with the Beverly Bushmine Tigers then to be connected to his two sons team the Turbo Oilers winning the Commercial league trophy as well.
Herbert passed away a year later on November 22, 1973. His life was taken by lung cancer caused by the lead fumes in the paint he had endured all those years in his own painting and decorating business. Herbert left behind his wife Florence, two son’s Dennis (Pheona) and Lonnie and his granddaughter Charlene.
After Herbert’s passing Florence continued renting out their house two doors down from the newer home at 4838-115 Avenue built in 1961 by Fort Construction to try and sustain some income.
Times weren’t easy financially in the Hanson household owning their own business in the early days however, Florence always did her best to try and keep the bills paid and books kept in proper order while a stay at home wife.
Florence Hanson passed away on July 20, 1999 at age 79. She did have Alzheimer’s disease however, it was the autoimmune hepatitis that shut down her liver that actually took her life. Left to mourn her death were Denis (Pheona) and two children and Lonnie (Lenore). She was a good mother, grandmother and mother-in-law.
After Florence’s passing the Hanson house at 4825-115 was sold and has been occupied by a new owner. In 2004, the old Hanson house at 4840-115 Avenue was torn down and replaced with a newer home.
It’s interesting how Herbert and his brother Elmer had lost their father Alfred leaving his wife Anna to carry on in the Hanson home after his passing. Then later in life Dennis and his brother Lonnie also losing their father Herbert and leaving his wife Florence to continue on in the Hanson home of which by coincidence all of them appear to have been living parallel lives.
After Dennis graduated high school he attended NAIT in the Culinary Foods Program which he excelled in soon becoming a chef for Alberta College and numerous other businesses. In the late 1980’s Dennis opened his own business Beverly Cycle for a number of years. Dennis eventually went back to being a chef at Robyn Hood School in Sherwood Park until his retirement in 2008. Dennis spends much of his time with his family and grandchildren and he is also an avid golfer.
After completing high school Lonnie worked as a sales representative for McDonald Tobacco, for People’s Credit Jewellers until becoming employed with the provincial government in 1978 with Consumer and Corporate Affairs which he has been with for over 30 years now until a health issue presented itself. In 1976, Lonnie was diagnosed with end stage renal failure requiring dialysis three times per week at the U of A Hospital. He received his first kidney transplant in 1978, his second one in 1987 and third in 1996. He spent five years on dialysis periodically between transplants. Lonnie’s saving grace was the support of his spouse Lenore and the excellent care from the U of A staff along with anti-rejection drugs he takes to keep the kidney transplant working.
Music was a large part of Lonnie’s junior high school days playing in his first band the “Vagabonds” who one the best group act in the 1965 Beverly Talent Show. The Vagabonds went to the city finals and came in second to the very young children’s group “Taitums”. Lonnie continued playing for a number of talented hobby bands from country, classic rock, olde tyme and blues music.
Lonnie has had a number of volunteer positions from canvassing to being director. These included the Kidney Foundation, Edmonton Society for Dialysis, Edmonton Blues Society, Edmonton Folk Festival, Edmonton Jazz Festival and Yardbird Suite, Edmonton Blues Festival and the Red Cross.
Dennis and his family reside in Sherwood Park and Lonnie in Edmonton staying in touch with each other. Dennis and Lonnie both came from good hard-working honest stock and were always respectful of their upbringing in Beverly area.
William Humberstone — 1836-1922
William Humberstone was born to English parents in 1836 near Toronto and headed west sometime in the late 1870s. Even though he was 44 years old, he walked from Winnipeg’s Fort Garry with his ox and Red River cart and the journey across the vast prairie and parkland took about three months. He arrived in Edmonton, a settlement of barely 250 persons, in October 1880. The next winter this hopeful, ambitious newcomer
began pulling coal from a drift mine on the North Saskatchewan River embankment at Grierson Hill and the Humberstone Brick & Coal Company was born.
In the spring of 1899 he married Beata and that summer the North Saskatchewan River flooded, carrying their buildings and equipment down the river and laying ruin to the mine operation. The following year, Humberstone bought a half section of River Lot 42 east of what is now 34th Street and south of 118th Avenue.
The Humberstone Coal Company had as its partners — William. Humberstone, C.G. Sheldon (who also managed the mine) and W.G. Heeley. The mine’s hoisting shaft was 107 feet deep and workings extended from the river west to modern day 35th Street, south to 110th Avenue and north to 118th Avenue. As early as 1901, fire was reported at several places in the seam, and such fires continued throughout the life of the mine.
While William and his wife, Beata ran the mine, his younger brother Fred operated the farm which provided feed for the mining horses and produce for the miners who boarded on the farm. (Fred went on to become the Mayor of Beverly in 1920 and died while still in office in 1921). With William well into his seventies by1910, Beata, 20 years his junior, began to assume more control over the day-to-day operations of the mine. She reorganized the company, speeding up growth and production and purchased, as the Edmonton Bulletin reported in 1911, new machinery which included a compressor, coal cutters and boilers.
“The new equipment not only allows a larger quantity of coal to be mined but it also assists in the economy of operation and allows the company to enter competitive fields and to take contracts for large consignments at a lower price than firms with fewer modern conveniences can give,” the newspaper said.
The mine produced, as the Bulletin called it, “A high grade lignite coal which is suitable for either domestic or steam purposes.” The coal was loaded onto railway cars, hauled up the spur line to the Grand Trunk Pacific (Canadian City National Railways) mainline and then into the centre of the city. Production at the mine in 1910 was quoted as being between 180 tons to 200 tons a day, and the Bulletin reported the expansion would enable that capacity to be tripled in the winter of 1911-12.
“A crew of fifty men has been employed and last winter two shifts a day were utilized. It is expected that three crews may be employed this season and that as high as six hundred tons will be taken from the mines.”
The Bulletin article concluded by saying: “The Humberstone Company, working property of this kind adjacent to Edmonton, has done much to call attention to the resources of this vicinity, its progressive methods have illustrated the ambitious and hopeful spirit of our capitalists. It is an industry that, pushed forward as is now being done, will undoubtedly be profitable for those concerned, and the employment it will furnish will effect beneficially many business circles in our city”.
An advertisement in the June 17, 1916 edition of the Edmonton Bulletin trumpeted the features of the Humberstone mine. Manager C.G. Sheldon was quoted, calling the plant “one of the most up-to-date in the country being equipped with private electric lighting system, compressed air for machine mining and the latest type of shaker screen.” In 1918, the mine employed more than 200 men and the monthly payroll was $25,000.
Over the years, several incidents punctuated the operation, sometimes making newspaper headlines. In 1915 and again in 1917, water broke into the shaft mine and flooded it, apparently caused by pillar-pulling triggered caving to the surface.
William Humberstone died April 2, 1922 at the age of 86. Following his death, the company reorganized in May 1923 under the name of Humberstone Mines Limited with an authorized capital of $30,000 or 3,000 shares of $10 each. The new money didn’t help for long. A mine fire in 1925 and a depleted coal reserve were factors which contributed to the closure of his coal mine. It opened again in 1928 and continued operation until 1934, when the Depression took its toll. The mines were abandoned, with old coal carts and railway tracks left in their place and the fire left to burn out – or on.
In his Atlas of Coal Mine Workings in Edmonton and Area, Richard Spence observed, “It would not be surprising if fire still smouldered in some part of the waste in these workings.” Years later, the old coal mine tunnels served as a septic system for the Town of Beverly.
Adeline and John Hunter
This store, operated by the Hunter family, was typical of a general store in Beverly in the 1920s and 30s. The Hunters lived right next door and their business was one of the few Beverly retailers to survive the depression.
Many Beverly families owed the Hunters a debt of gratitude for their support during the hard times. Adeline and John Hunter, with their family Margaret, Rendall, and Alex, moved from Strathcona to Beverly in 1919, when the Hunters purchased the Beverly General Store and the living quarters above. The structure was situated at the southeast corner of 118th Avenue and 39th Street. But fire broke out in 1921 and, to get back in operation quickly, ]ohn decided to construct adjacent to a warehouse he owned on the north side of 118th. The story goes that within days the store was open again and the family soon moved into a house built right next to the store.
Hunter’s store was great gathering place for young and old. In the winter the activity was sitting around the pot bellied coal heater playing cards and swapping stories. In the summer the boys enjoyed marbles and games outside. Early on school mornings, older boys often stopped at the store to ask for Mr. Hunter’s help with their math homework.
Rendall and Alex attended the Beverly Central School while Margaret went to the University of Alberta and became a school teacher. She taught in Beverly for two years. In 1937, John Hunter gave up the grocery business for farming. He sold the store and moved to a farm near Alberta Beach and died in 1942. The structure remained a general store under four more owners before the building was demolished in 1965.
When Canada went to war Rendall joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was stationed in Newfoundland. Alex joined the Canadian Army and was wounded in action in April 1945 while in Holland. He remained in hospital two weeks and was back on the front lines along the Rhine River when the war ended. Upon their return to Canada, Rendall and Alex both bought land and settled in Beverly and their mother came to live with them. Rendall worked in the office of the Beverly Coal Mine. Alex worked in the oil fields until he started his own business, Hunters Delivery, which Rendall later joined.
Michael & Agnes Nimeck
When Myron (Michael) Nimeck retired from coal mining in 1955, it was the end of a 54 year career working in the mines. Nimeck was born in Ukraine in 1888 and emigrated to Canada with an uncle when he was just 13. That year, he began working in coal mines and, before Beverly, he laboured at the Brule Mines near Jasper National Park.
While visiting relatives in Saskatchewan in 1918, Michael met Agnes and the two fell quickly in love. They were married within a month and returned to the Brule Mines where the newlyweds moved into a tent house (a structure with a wooden floor and sides and a canvas rooD. Their first son, john, was born in that tent March 15, 1919, the day after Agnes’ 17th birthday, a second son, Frank, was born june 18, 1920.
In 1923, Michael was offered a job at Beverly’s Humberstone Mine as a check weighman and the family moved into a converted granary on mine property That year, Lillian was born but she died just four months later. Another daughter, Irene Maclowick, was born November 5, 1925 and with the family growing, Michael and Agnes decided to build a house of their own.
The two-room structure was constructed at the corner of 48 Street and 119 Avenue – property that, all these years later, remains in the family. John Nimeck recalls that “Beverly in those days was a town of coal miners who had big acreage gardens during summer layoffs.”
More children followed: Emily on March 27, 1927; Lily Bedniak on December 20, 1929 and Maxwell on October 20, 1932. “Can you imagine seven of us living in that two room house?” Irene asks. “And there were no services – no running water, outdoor toilet, coal oil lamps.”
Two years later, Frankie died at age 14 from rheumatic fever and, in the depths of the Depression, the family didn’t have the money to give him a proper funeral. The people of Beverly collected $180 to help with funeral expenses.
As times improved, the family built a new six-room house at 11840 48 Street. The yard was renowned for Mike’s massive greenhouse, which he constructed himself from salvage lumber. Like other Beverly families, they had two cows, but no pigs or chickens.
“Dad didn’t want them,” Irene remembers. The children grew up and some moved away but others have stayed in Beverly all these years. Their papa Michael passed away April 12, 1965 at the age of 77. Mamma Agnes lived another 20 years and died January 5, 1984 at the age of 81.
Jessie and Mike Plesuk
When Jessie and Mike Plesuk arrived in Beverly from their native Ukraine in 1915, there was so much bush that, as Jessie tells it: “I had to find him by calling. There was no lights, no water, no roads, nothing.”
The couple bought a four-room wooden house from a woman who wanted to return to her homeland and transported it by horse team, little by little, to their 10-acre property along what is now 43rd Street north of 122nd Avenue. In all, it took three weeks.
Mike worked wherever he could – the railway, the coal mines, the Canada Creosoting Plant. Wages at the plant were 35 cents to 49 cents an hour. During the Great Depression, the Plesuk’s six children – Bill, George, Alex, Tilly, Margie and Mike Jr.- dug potatoes all day and were rewarded with $125 for every railway box car they could fill.
The strenuous labour took its toll and, in 1941, Mike Sr., died of a heart condition. He was only 53. But Jessie remained on the land and lived in the house at 12233 43 Street until the city purchased the property in 1975 for $200,000. Much of where they used to farm now resides under Yellowhead Trail. Mrs. Plesuk died in 1989 at the age of 98.
Jacob Prins and the Dutch in Beverly
His given name was Jacob but, to the many Dutch he helped build a new life in Alberta, he was “Dad.” Jacob Prins was born in Andyk (North Holland) on May 20, 1886 and from a young age was drawn to agriculture.
He grew potatoes, garden seeds and tulip bulbs. When he and his wife Aafje decided to emigrate, they owned a flourishing business and were the proud parents of eight children: George, Simon, Norman, John, Peter, Winnie (Olthuis), Dorothy (Fennema), and Tina (Ellen).
But little Holland was getting crowded and Jacob and Aafje decided their children would find greater opportunity in Canada. The Prins family and Aafje’s brother Simon Groot, Simon’s wife and eight children left Andyk on March 7, 1927, and arrived in Edmonton 19 days later. They lived first in the Christian Reformed Church at 105 Avenue and 93 Street and Jacob began looking for property.
After careful consideration, he purchased the 186-acre Humberstone Farm, nestled in a broad bend of the North Saskatchewan River and atop the Humberstone Coal Mine. The purchase came with two bonuses: the mineral rights to the land and a large two-storey white house that William Humberstone had built as a rooming house for the coal miners.
Using the water of the North Saskatchewan to irrigate his fields, the family grew potatoes and a variety of vegetables, including cauliflower, which was an Alberta first. As commodity prices collapsed, the Prins family began collecting royalties from the coal that others mined from the riverbank on their land. Living atop abandoned coal mines had its perils and on several occasions livestock was lost as the earth collapsed into an old shaft.
Delighted at the prosperity of their new life in Canada, Jacob Prins began encouraging other Dutch to emigrate and, when three families arrived from the Netherlands in 1936, he found farms for them to live and work near Lacombe, Alberta. When more families followed, he found it necessary to scout other locations and this turned out to be the start of a remarkable career.
Prins often contacted the Canadian National Railway for information on available land parcels and, in the winter of 1937, the railway sent him to Holland to promote emigration to Western Canada. After World War II, the Christian Reformed Church’s Synodical Committee appointed him Fieldman for Central British Columbia.
The railway even provided Prins with a pass to travel freely in the west and, on one of those trips searching for locations suitable for Dutch farmers, he discovered the Bulkley Valley in the northern part of Central BC. It was ideally situated on the railway from Edmonton to Prince Rupert, where settlers would be assured of work in the lumber industry during winter months. Many Dutch families subsequently settled in the communities of Smithers, Terrace, Houston and Telkwa, BC.
Prins’ message to prospective immigrants was succinct: work hard and you will succeed in Canada. During the Second World War, immigration from Europe came to a standstill, which provided Jacob with more time for his farm, but he kept an eye on future possibilities. He expected a great influx when the war ended, and he was of course, correct. He assisted hundreds of newcomers, advising them and guiding them to their destinations.
Over the years, hundreds of tired and timid immigrants were brought to the Humberstone Farm by Jacob Prins. The hospitality of the big white Beverly house with the lilac hedges became famous on both sides of the Atlantic. Aafje died in 1949 and her daughter-in-law Ann Prins stepped in to help with the workload, getting up before daybreak to prepare a meal for hungry travellers en route to British Columbia. jacob Prins received no remuneration and, for a long while, paid expenses out of his own pocket. Until 1960, when he had to resign on doctor’s orders, Prins travelled once a month to B.C. to check up on people.
Through his efforts, more than 800 Dutch families were welcomed to Canada and many settled in the Beverly area. Over the years, the farm was expanded to more than 400 acres and was tended by the Prins’ children. In the 1950s, the family tried strip mining coal on part of the property but, with the booming oil sector and a diminishing demand for coal, the venture proved unprofitable. The strip mines were the beginning of the Beverly Dump.
Jacob Prins passed peacefully away on Aprill2, 1963, while reading a book in Mother Prins’ favourite corner. The funeral service filled First Christian Reformed Church to overflowing as people travelled from all over Alberta and B.C. to pay final respects. Rev. Winston Boelkins quoted from Isaiah 54, offering the words: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be moved, My loving kindness for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.”
A fitting tribute to a man who lived his life in the service of others. The Humberstone Farm ceased vegetable production in 1966 and the land was swallowed by the birth of the Rundle Heights subdivision, the Beverly Dump and, more recently, Rundle Park. The white house, home to two generations of the Prins family, was pulled down in 1969.
In 1983, the City of Edmonton named a park at 121 Avenue and 53 Street “Jacob Prins Park” in recognition of his contribution to the area.