Anton Anderson

Father of Joan Davis
Submitted by Joan Davis

Anton Anderson
Anton Anderson

Anton Anderson was born on June 22, 1886 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. His father, Conrad came to Calgary in 1886 with the Eau Claire Bow River Lumber Company. His mother, Jacobine came in the spring of 1887 when Anton was 9 months old. Conrad and Jacobine were both from Norway. The early years were spent at Shepard on the farm where Conrad homesteaded. He had to live on the land for 6 months of the year and plow at least 5 acres of prairie sod.

The CPR went through the Anderson property and in the early years the 'right of way' was not fenced; as a result, the loss of stock was tremendous. Father recalls seeing many animals badly crippled and had to put them out of their misery. There were two wrecks in their field and 40 to 50 head of cattle were either killed or maimed. In dry seasons there were a lot of prairie fires often set by trains.

Sons Martin, Harry and John Gordon, and daughters Gertrude and Florence, were all born in Calgary. In 1892 when Anton was old enough for school, the family moved to Calgary. Anton, Martin, Harry and Gertrude received their education in Calgary. Clara and Gordon attended school at Shepard. Conrad worked for Eau Claire Mill as well and McLean Flour Mills when he was not on the farm.

Conrad and Jacobine Anderson
Conrad and Jacobine Anderson

The Andersons lived in the 500 block on Abbot Avenue - now known as 2nd Avenue West where the area was populated by many families that worked for Eau Claire Mill. Trinity Lutheran Church, at 8th Street S.W. and 3rd Avenue, was established by the 13 Norwegian families that came with the Eau Claire Lumber Company. Father attended James Shortt School with Miss Laferty as his first teacher. At the end of the school term, she invited the children to a garden party at her home - here is where he tasted his first ice cream.

In 1899, several prospectors arrived in Calgary on their way to the Klondike. As many as 40 tents were set up at 2nd Street S.E. The men had their baled hay shipped from England. They established their camp on the south side of 8th Avenue between McTavish blacksmith shop and 2nd Street S.E. This was all vacant property then. They were there all winter training their dogs to pull sleighs and purchasing ponies to pack their provisions overland. The area became quite a gathering place in the evenings. One night a crowd gathered discussing their trip overland when someone asked, "What will you do when you get to the North Country among the muskeg?" A young man replied, "By golly we'll shoot them." They started out in the spring and got to the top of Edmonton Trail and there was no snow. They then came back and shipped their outfits to Edmonton. Out of the 40 men in the party only three arrived in the Klondike.

Nearly every home in Calgary had a cow. Anton and some other youngsters used to herd 100 cows across the river on the Bow Marsh Bridge to the Hillhurst-Sunnyside area for pasture. In 1902, the bow River was flooded and Conrad suggested they get the cows earlier in the day and only bring 20 head across each time. They finished an hour before the bridge 'went out' and it bumped into the Langevin at 4th Street S.E., knocking it out of line, hence a new bridge had to be built. They received $100 a month.

The flood caused a lot of damage - the water rose to the steps of the City Hall to a depth of several inches. Many houses were washed down the river. Residents on the north side had to pay 50 cents to cross the river by boat.

Mr. Johnny Hamilton pastured many horses on the north side of the Bow and he used to ask my dad to help him swim the horses to the south side. One day about a 100 head were to cross where the 14th Street bridge now stands. There was a young colt only a day or two old that stayed close to its mother. As soon as they entered the water the mother grabbed the colt by the back of the neck and they swam across safely. This was the first time he had seen anything like that.

Although 1902 was a very wet year the farmers thought their crops were washed out, however it stopped raining the first week in July and the crops matured rapidly, My father and his Dad completed harvesting in good time, however a neighbor, Mr. John Phalen was behind in his harvesting. Conrad and Anton went over to help. Anton started stooking and noticed a man working further in the field, so started to work toward him. They worked together the rest of the day. Anton later learned his working partner was Ernest Cashel - outlaw who was later convicted for murder and subsequently hanged.

Anton worked at Great West Saddlery and being the eldest of the family accompanied his father to the farm to work there.

In 1906, Anton and Martin played in the Calgary Fire Brigade Band - the photo of this is hanging in the Thorp House at Heritage Park. Some members of the Thorp family also played in the band and were part of the Eau Claire Bow River Lumber families.

In 1909 Anton, Martin and Harry took homesteads in the Hand Hills, south of Delia. Anton was active in the area and assisted in organizing the first Hand Hills Stampede, This is the oldest stampede in Alberta. He enlisted in the Army in 1917, received basic training at Sarcee Barracks, then went for further training at Willows Camp in Victoria. The 260th Battalion embarked on the 26th of December 1918 for Vladivostoc, Russia, arriving 15th January 1919. This was the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force (CSEF) whose purpose was to rescue the Czechoslovakian Legion, which was stranded in Siberia by the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. The Battalion left Vladivostoc on 22nd April 1919, arriving in Vancouver 22nd June.

My father took his discharge and returned to his farm in the Hand Hills. Anton was President of the Hand Hills Stampede in 1922 and was also a councillor for the municipality.

In 1923 while discing with a 12-horse team, he had a 'runaway' and was severely injured, spending several months in hospital. He gave up farming in 1925 and began buying grain in several Alberta towns.

My parents were married in 1926. Mother (Cora Campbell), having had her early education in Delia and Hanna and high school in Calgary, completed her Normal Training in 1922 at Calgary and then taught at several schools in the Hand Hills and Lone Butte areas. Their children are my sister, Helen, and myself, Joan.

Father retired in 1942 and became very active in several organizations - he was the 'Pioneer of the Year' for the Southern Alberta Pioneers in 1969 and was a 50-year member of the Free Masons. Father died in 1976 just a few months short of his 90th birthday. Mother died in 1987.