Kneehill Valley history book a work of patience

Most rural communities have a history book of the area, but up until recently the Kneehill Valley community did not.

The book has now been completed and is in the final stages including the planning of a launch party on Dec. 3.

“We’ve always known the diaries have been here because the lady that looked after them and continued to write them grew up in this area,” said Iris White, a community member and editor for the history book alongside Therresa Dersch.

Alice Hewitt kept the diaries and is the one mentioned by White who continued to live in the area and keep the diaries up to date.

In recent years work has been done to the community hall which yielded the discovery of some army documents from when the building was used as a barracks.

“They were request documents including inventory of how many boots and canned goods they had and things like that,” said White.

The community hall become a fixture at its current location when it was purchased at the end of the war with the help of some fundraising by the community to move it. It was moved in 1947.

“Church services were even held at the hall at one point before the church bought the school across the road and turned it into a church,” said White.

A community member, Alice Hoar, had wanted to see a history book done but passed away before it could see completion.

“Her husband approached me in 2008 saying that he had all of these documents and wanted me to look at them and maybe get something together.”

White said it was something many community members had talked about but never done.

With the diary was a wooden box that had old pictures and documents.

“Reading through the diary we discovered the different aspects of the community life that had gone on and from there came up with a table of contents for things we needed to include,” said White.

Trish Palardy, who did the formatting for the book, said the book entailed two years of typing and formatting.

Palardy said it was constantly a learning curve and that it was interesting to learn about the people who had cleared the land and protected their animals from mosquitoes.

White said it was interesting to read the diaries and she gained a great appreciation for what the people who settled in the late 1800’s had and how they started with wide-open spaces and made it what it is today.

“It’s really quite profound that there was nothing here and they saw a need and it all came together,” said White.

The book includes about 125 family histories from the area, 518 pages of reading, and over 700 photographs. It also includes the histories of the three school districts in the area, Steadman, Pleasant Valley and Horse Shoe Lake.

White’s family has lived in the area since 1982, while Palardy has only been in the area six years.

“It’s neat as a newcomer to the community. It showed me a history that otherwise would have taken years to hear from neighbours and even then I wouldn’t have heard it all,” said Palardy.

The launch on Dec. 3 runs at Kneehill Community Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Books will be for sale at that time for $100.

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