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by Farley Wuth, Curator,
Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society


Two such individuals had connections with the Ashvale District located at the foot of the Porcupine Hills north of Pincher Creek. The one-room school for this ranching territory operated for a full half century following its 1909 establishment.

Our first pioneer was John James Allen (1836 – 1925) who ranched in this district for nearly a decade and a half in the early 1900s. Born in Conventry, England, he initially took up the trade of silk weaving which had been his father’s line of work too. In 1861, six years before Confederation, Allen immigrated to Canada, settling on a bush farm not too far distance from Toronto. Much of the brush he cleared off himself and constructed a solid set of farm buildings. Nearly thirty years later, in 1890, he established another bush farm, this one located Wharncliffe, Algoma. There Allen became involved in the community, serving as a Justice of the Peace for thirteen years.

In 1904, Allen came to the Canadian Prairies, establishing a ranch in the Ashvale District. The property was located in T8 R30 W4. The rugged terrain made it more suitable to raising cattle rather than crops. His arrival was five years before the country school was started there. Allen sold his ranch in 1916 and retired, living with his daughter Mrs. Helen Sleighter who resided nearby. Born in Ontario in December 1880, she was one of ten children in the Allen family. One of her brothers, Samuel whose birth dated to December 1867, resided in Cowley. The rest of the surviving siblings resided in Vancouver, Toronto and Washington and Michigan States. James Allen’s first wife was Julia L. Rose Allen who passed away in 1882 and his second wife Jane Telford passed away just before his move out west.

James Allen passed away age 89 years the third week in June 1925. A life-long Methodist, his service was held from the Pincher Creek United Church and he was buried in the Cowley Cemetery.

A second agricultural pioneer from the Ashvale District was Ernest Percy Angliss. He and his two brothers were homesteaders.

Angliss was born in Renfrew, Ontario in October 1878. His family ancestry was English. At the age of twenty-three years, Ernest and his older brother Hector, born November 1875, ventured out to the Canadian West. They traveled by covered wagon with several horses and a set of agricultural equipment. The pair filed on a series of homesteads at the southern reaches of the Porcupine Hills. Ernest homesteaded two quarters, one in S30 T7 R29 W4 and a second a little to the west in S24 T7 R30 W4. Brother Hector also filed on two nearby quarters in S30 T7 R29 W4 and S24 T7 R30 W4. Unlike Ernest who set up permanent residency here, Hector sold out within a few years and moved to Grand Forks in southern British Columbia. In 1910, Ernest’s third brother George Frederick, who was the eldest with a birth dating June 1872, came west. He homesteaded on one quarter in S30 T7 R29 W4. The pair continued on their quarters the rest of their lives and the family was well known as well as greatly respected. George passed away on August 15th, 1939 and Ernest eight years later on August 26th, 1947. Both are buried in Pincher Creek’s Fairview Cemetery.


A Porcupine Hills homesteader Thomas Dazely Bunce had very early connections with Western Canadian history. Bunce and his family first came to the southwestern corner of the Canadian Prairies in 1900, filing on two homesteads in the windswept Porcupine Hills many miles north of Cowley. Although some crops were raised there, the quarters were most suitable for cattle grazing. The area was remote but Bunce made the best of it. He remained there for more than a full decade until 1911.

Thomas Bunce was born in Ontario on March 20th, 1849. At the age of twenty-three years, in 1872, Bunce headed west to the Woodlands District adjacent to Winnipeg where he established a homestead. In 1879, he relocated to near Brandon, Manitoba. Six years later, he headed further west to Calgary where he helped with the transportation services during the 1885 Riel Rebellion. Bunce was appointed an early policeman in Calgary where he remained till 1892. He travelled by covered wagon down to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho where he worked in the mines. Further covered wagon ventures were made to Yakima, Washington and Kalispell, Montana.

Following his agricultural efforts in the Porcupine Hills, he headed to Creston where he passed away in 1937. He was survived by his widow Mary who was born in Ontario on July 12th, 1858 and by seven children, some of whom were born in Manitoba and the rest in the United States. The youngsters spent part of their childhoods on the rugged Canadian homesteads.

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