Boyden family had adventurous pioneer spirit

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Central Alberta is one of the finest agricultural heartlands in the entire world. This wonderful distinction is based in a large part in the hard work and commitment to the community of our early pioneers.

One of those pioneer families is the Boyden family of the Quill Lakes/Lousana district, who celebrated 100 continuous years in the area on August long weekend.

The patriarch of the family was Charles Albert Boyden. He was born in England in 1871, but decided to emigrate to Canada in 1893. He initially settled in Montreal. He soon worked his way up to be the manager of one of the largest clothing manufacturers in Canada.

On August 22, 1893, he married Annie Louise Ruffett. She had also been born in June of 1871 in England and had come to Montreal with her family in 1891. Charles and Annie Boyden had a remarkable eight children while in Montreal: William, Dora, Alberta, Florence, May, Edward, Ethel and George.

In 1910, the Boydens were taken with a sense of adventure again, all the more challenging since they now had such a large family. They headed to Alberta to start a new life as farmers and ranchers. They took a homestead near Goosequill Lake.

It was a good location. A mile to the east was the new Quill Lake School, an important consideration for a family with so many children. There was also a proposed new townsite, Lousana, a short distance to the north.

Not surprisingly, Charles took an active interest in the school and was soon serving on the school board. Both Charles and Annie took a strong interest in the community and became active in a number of local organizations and projects.

Not long after their arrival, in November 1910, the Boydens had the joy of a new addition to the family, Hap. However, during their second Christmas in their new home, tragedy struck. The house caught fire, after a coal fell out of the stove. While Mr. and Mrs. Boyden and most of the children awoke early enough to get out, toddler George was trapped upstairs and Florence, who was 11, went back for him. Mr. and Mrs. Boyden made frantic efforts to rescue the two children, but their efforts tragically failed.

As was the case in pioneer times, the neighbours soon rallied around to help the homeless and bereaved family. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to a new home on a nearby piece of land. While living there, another son, Dick, was born in 1914.

When the First World War broke out, William enlisted in the 89 Battalion. He was badly wounded with mustard gas while overseas.

The end of the War brought many years of hardship. There were droughts, bad hailstorms, early frosts, cold winters and poor prices for crops and livestock. Nevertheless, the Boydens persevered, started new families and a new generation.

In January 1960, tragedy struck again when Dick’s home burned down and his wife Mable lost her life. Once again, family and friends rallied around to help the family through their loss.

Once could go on at great length on all the organizations and community projects and events that have benefited from the active involvement of the Boyden family. That would include the Court Lousana Foresters, the Lousana School Board, the Trenville Elks, the Masonic Lodge, the Lousana Fair and Stampede, the Lousana Women’s Institute, the Lousana Community Hall, the Recreation Board, the Anglican Church, the Parent and Teachers’ Association, the community clubs, sports groups, 4-H, and the local museums. There are many more groups and causes for which members of the family have volunteered.

Recognition of this outstanding commitment to volunteerism and the community is coming on August 21 when the Boyden family will be presented with the prestigious Golden Furrow Award at the Sunnybrook Farm Museum.

However, the greatest tribute to the Boydens comes from the wonderful legacy which they have created. As we look around today, we can easily see how far this region has progressed since the Boydens first arrived 100 years ago in 1910. This incredible transformation has been due to the hard work and resilience not only of the Boyden family, but all of the other pioneer families of Central Alberta.

One of the greatest accomplishments one can attain is to leave a proud legacy for succeeding generations.

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