Remembering the autumn of 1953

Red Deer has enjoyed a pretty good year this year.

So far, there has been a warm and pleasant fall. The economy is doing well. The media is reporting that one of the best crops in years is being harvested.

Red Deer was also enjoying good times 60 years ago in the fall of 1953. A large oil field was discovered northeast of the City in the Joffre area. The subsequent boost to the local economy was substantial.

Both Imperial Oil and Gulf Oil announced the opening of major central offices in Red Deer. Other smaller companies either started or expanded operations in the community.

The amount of new construction soared.

In 1952, the City recorded slightly more than $2 million in building permits. With the onset of the strong new oil and gas boom, the value of permits in 1953 nearly doubled to almost $4 million.

One of the biggest projects announced in 1953 was the proposal by the provincial government to the build a large new facility for care of mentally disabled adults on the old J.J. Gaetz farm on the northeastern edge of the City. This facility was later named Deerhome.

In 1953, the population of Red Deer leapt to more than 8,000. So many young families were moving to the community that both the public and the separate school districts had trouble accommodating all the new students.

New schools and/or additions to new schools were constructed every year during the 1950s. Nevertheless, all the classrooms were filled to overflowing.

The City had problems keeping up with the supply of new parks and recreational facilities. However, a new arena was built on the Red Deer Fairgrounds.

The Red Deer Curling Club began construction of a new curling rink next to the arena after reaching an agreement with the City to share the artificial ice plant.

A real public relations coup occurred on July 13, 1953 when the Curling Club was able to have Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent turn the first sod for the new facility.

The City also had problems keeping up with the demands for new utilities services and street construction. The year of 1953 was a wet one. Hence many of the unpaved streets became muddy morasses.

Because the sanitary sewers often backed up into basements during rainstorms, the City also had to develop plans for an extensive and expensive new storm sewer system.

Nevertheless, October 1953 saw many local successes and noteworthy events. The local Kiwanis Club recorded its best-ever fundraising apple sale with more than two boxcar loads of apples being sold.

Several local churches cooperated in organizing a special family Thanksgiving service at the new 2-11 Drive-in Theatre on the north end of town. Several hundred people attended.

The municipal elections were hotly contested.

Former mayor Harvey Halliday successfully competed with the young City councillor Alec Sim to replace outgoing mayor Paul Crawford.

There were also plebiscites on a proposal to move the Cenotaph from its existing location in the middle of Ross Street, as well as plans to rezone two pieces of parkland, one to commercial use and the other to residential.

The voters did agree to turn the parkland east of the Gaetz United Church into a site for a proposed strip mall and to turn another portion of the park at the foot of Michener Hill into an extension of the Woodlea subdivision.

However, the proposals to move the Cenotaph to either a new site in front of the Memorial Centre, or to the centre of City Hall Park, were defeated. The voters felt it was better to leave the Cenotaph where it was in the middle of Red Deer’s busiest commercial thoroughfare so that it would be constant reminder of the sacrifices made by the residents of Red Deer and district during the First and Second World Wars.

Just Posted

WATCH: 2018 Westerner Days Parade brings 1000s to downtown Red Deer

The parade begins five days of western fun and culture in Central Alberta

Innisfail RCMP seize eight dogs from hotel room following earlier arrest

Dogs were in distress and taken to an animal rescue organization

Westerner Days opens today

Lots to see and do for the whole family

RCMP Major Crimes South make arrest in Red Deer homicide investigation

Gabriel Juma We Agotic of Red Deer arrested in Calgary

Car fire spreads to house in Eastview

Red Deer fire crews on scene

WATCH: Tune into What’s Up Wednesday

An overview of the week’s news in Red Deer

Winners, losers from the federal cabinet shuffle

Here’s who will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election

Price no guarantee for safety with horse riding helmets: new report

A Swedish insurance report reveals that many brands of equestrian helmets do not protect riders as well as they could.

Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic launches into its second decade

The Gord Bamford Foundation is continuing to support youth supporting charities

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors send DeMar DeRozan to Spurs in colossal NBA trade

Toronto also sent Jakob Poeltl and 2019 first-round pick, gets Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Wetaskiwin man facing charges after allegedly impersonating war veteran

Wetaskiwin RCMP lay charges for unlawful use of military uniforms/certificates

Kitten OK after being rescued from underground pipe in B.C.

An adventurous feline has been rescued after getting trapped in an underground pipe in Kamloops, B.C.

A day after back-tracking, Trump defends summit performance

Amid bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, Trump at first sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error Tuesday.

Thai soccer players rescued from cave meet the media

Members of the Thai youth soccer team who were trapped in a cave have left the hospital where they have been treated since their rescue.

Most Read