This year marks an important milestone in our community’s history. It was 100 years ago, in 1911, that the area on the north side of the Red Deer River was officially incorporated as the Village of North Red Deer.
The main motivation behind the creation of the village was a high degree of dissatisfaction with the rural Local Improvement District. Many residents felt that the rural council was collecting a lot of taxes, but was doing very little in return.
Hence, the north side residents felt that the creation of a separate municipality would give them ‘a better deal’ and that their taxes would be fully invested into improvements in their community.
On Feb. 17, 1911, the Village of North Red Deer officially came into being. On March 13, 1911, the first village council was elected with Walter Webb becoming the first mayor and L. Brennan and William Bawtinheimer becoming the first councillors.
The new Village council quickly went to work. They authorized the borrowing of $4,000 to construct wooden sidewalks, grade the roads and open drainage ditches.
A beautiful two-storey ‘cottage’ school was constructed on Clive (60) St. Shortly thereafter, a village hall was acquired on Main (57) St. and Cherry (57) Ave., complete with a council chamber, administrative offices, two police cells, a public works yard and an animal pound.
North Red Deer was experiencing one of the strongest booms in its history. The population of the village nearly doubled in less than one year. The Great West Lumber Company mill, the largest employer, underwent a major expansion and was soon turning out several million metres of lumber. St. Joseph Convent, on the brow of the North Hill, had a large three-storey addition constructed on its west side.
However, the remarkable growth brought a number of headaches. One of the worst problems was sanitation. There was a major typhoid outbreak in September 1912. The result was that the Village council passed stringent rules on the sale of milk and on the maintenance of privies.
At the end of 1912, some people pushed for the amalgamation with the Town of Red Deer. They felt this would facilitate the provision of power and telephone service. However, a strong majority was happy with their new municipality. They also pointed out that the Town of Red Deer paid some of the highest electricity rates in Western Canada.
As time went on, the Village council meetings became more and more spirited. They became so spirited that many residents from south of the river would go to the Village Hall on council meeting nights to watch the fun.
One big clash came when the council replaced the existing secretary-treasurer with someone who lived south of the river. There were also serious complaints that the mayor had authorized urgent roadwork without a vote of council. On another occasion, one of the councillors wanted his colleagues to authorize the subdivision of his property, but also wanted the Village to buy the land for the streets.
The biggest incident came at the 1914 annual ratepayers meeting when one of the councillors objected to closing the meeting with the singing of God Save The King. The local papers reported that the enraged crowd wanted to carry the councilor out of the hall and to throw him into the river.
Controversy continued in 1915 when the Village council decided to build a new Village hall. Some wanted it located in Forrestdale, on the west side of the Village, south of the C.P.R. tracks. Others wanted it located closer to the bridge across the river.
A site on the corner of The Boulevard (58 St.) and Balsam (52) Ave. was approved by a plurality of the ratepayers, but not a majority. However, the council decided to go ahead with a building at that location.
As time went on, North Red Deer became a quiet, peaceful community where not a lot happened. In 1947, a decision was finally made to amalgamate with the City of Red Deer. Nevertheless, there is still a distinct sense of identity for those who live in Riverside Meadows/North Red Deer.
On Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, the centennial of the Village of North Red Deer will be celebrated at the Koinonia School. For information on the day’s events, please email the Riverside Meadows Community Assoc. at email@example.com or phone 403-346-2498.