Alfred G. Ayres – key to City’s centennial

On Monday, March 25, 2013, Red Deer celebrated the centennial of its incorporation as a City. While a great deal of attention has been given to some of the key figures in the City at the time of incorporation, one person who unfortunately has been largely overlooked is Red Deer’s first City clerk, A.G. Ayres.

Alfred George Ayres was born on Oct. 18, 1873 in Cambridge, England. In September 1897, he married Hanna Beresford in the famous St. George’s Church in Campden Hill, London.

They were to have two daughters, Theodora and Evelyn.

In 1907, the Ayres decided to immigrate to Red Deer.

Alfred worked for a while at the Red Deer Advocate. In 1909, he was able to secure a job as the assistant to Town Commissioner A.T. Stephenson. His title was soon changed to town clerk and assistant secretary-treasurer.

As soon as they arrived in Red Deer, the Ayres became very active in community affairs. In particular, they became active with St. Luke’s Anglican Church.

Alfred was elected to the vestry. He served as a lay reader and joined the church choir.

Hanna was equally active in the Church.

She joined the Ladies Guild (later known as the Women’s Auxiliary) and the Chancel Guild. She served as president of the former group for a great many years.

Alfred was a founding member of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, serving as the first secretary-treasurer.

The Brotherhood decided to merge with the Rose of Red Deer Lodge of the Sons of England when that organization was formed in 1910. Alfred then became a very active member of the S.O.E.

He was also very active with the Canadian Order of Foresters, serving as the financial secretary for more than 40 years.

Shortly after coming to Red Deer, Alfred joined Red Deer Lodge #12 of the Masons. He served as master and was secretary for 28 years.

For his many years of work with the Lodge, he was made a life member.

He served as first principal of the Keystone Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons and was later grand superintendent.

He was also secretary of the chapter for more than 20 years.

Hanna joined Venus Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. She served as matron and secretary and became the Grand Chaplain in the Grand Chapter of Alberta.

She was a charter member of the Admiral Sir Christopher Craddock Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.) and served as both regent and secretary.

When Red Deer became a City in 1913, Alfred had a hand in the drafting of the new City Charter.

His meticulous attention to detail ensured that the document was drawn up correctly, without any omissions or even any grammatical or spelling errors.

When the First World War broke out, both Hanna and Alfred became very active with the Red Cross in Red Deer.

Alfred later became president of the Red Deer branch. Hanna served as a provincial president of the Red Cross and was later honoured as a life member of the Canadian Red Cross Society.

In June 1946, Alfred finally retired as City clerk after 37 years. In the tribute printed in the Red Deer Advocate, it was stated that he had been “a conscientious public servant” who had “spared neither time nor strength in the ratepayers’ service”.

Alfred did not really retire.

He took a new position as a local magistrate. He credited his ongoing good health to his devotion to gardening. He was an active member of the Red Deer Horticultural Society and won a great many prizes in the Society’s annual flower shows.

A hard blow came in July 1949, when Hanna died suddenly of a heart attack while on her way to see her first great-grandchild.

Alfred continued to live in Red Deer for many years, but eventually moved to Kelowna, B.C. to live with his daughter Evelyn.

Alfred passed away on his birthday on Oct. 18, 1968 at the age of 95. He and his beloved Hanna are buried in the Red Deer Cemetery.