Thomas and Jane Hamilton

High River, Alberta, 1887-1901
Submitted by Edward Hamilton

Thomas Hamilton
Thomas Hamilton before 1887

In 1887 Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Hamilton of Fitzroy Harbour, Ontario, with a family of ten children, came west to take over a homestead on the southeast corner of the present town site of High River, Alberta. At that time the farm was located a mile east of the town limits.

Older family members worked in town and on neighbouring ranches. In 1891 the family children was increased to an even dozen by the birth of twins. The twins did not survive and were buried on the Hamilton farm site.

Misfortune seemed to haunt the family. One son died in a fire and others succumed to influenza. William, Benjamin, George, Maria, Deborah, Thomas and Arthur, seven children in all suffered untimely deaths.

Jane Hamilton
Jane Hamilton before 1887

Maria married William Todd who was the proprietor of the town's first butcher shop. It is said that William Todd acquired the residence he lived in, with winnings in a poker game. The house still stands in High River as a historical building on the east hill.

Henry married and had five children. His son Eddie left Alberta to become a noted jockey in the horse racing business of the United States. Daughter Irene married and moved to Calgary. Son, Everett also raised his family in Calgary.

Annie, born in 1876, remained a spinster and lived in High River for most of her life. She brought up her niece, Mildred Hamilton who was an orphan early in life. Annie died in 1935.

Harold, the youngest, married Miss Fuller and ran a general store at DeWinton. He was born in 1887 and died September 22, 1921.

Herbert born in 1881, was a top scholar at school; and was awarded special recognition for his good handwriting by the principal of the school. He was fond of the violin and played at many of the dances and socials. He served with the Canadian Forces overseas from 1916 to 1919, and saw action at Vimy Ridge and Mons.

On June 4, 1920 Herb married Ellen Cowley. She had arrived on the liner Metagama (World War I Bride's Ship) from Wigan, England. They took up residence in the 1907 two-story home that had been occupied by Jane Hamilton.

Herb worked for the Astoria Hotel and later the Skov Lumber Company at High River and Cayley. During the Second World War he worked on the security staff for the Flying Training School at High River. Herb and Ellen Hamilton raised two sons; Horace Edwin born May 22, 1921 and Arthur Franklin born May 1, 1923 (died February 14, 1980). Ellen Hamilton died April 1983. Herb Hamilton died December 3, 1964.

Of interest is an item in the High River Times of September 1915 when Jane (wife of Thomas) indicated she had lived at High River since 1887, a period of 28 years. Also a high light of her life was her first ride in a modern 1915 automobile, owned by Mr. Ramage, to his home where Mrs. Ramage was hosting a tea party for local grandmothers of the district.

Thomas Hamilton passed way in 1901 at 66 years. Jane Hamilton died in 1919 at age 82.