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

Augustus Charles Ritchie was born in March 1883 in England. He immigrated to Canada when he was twenty years old, which was in 1903, the year before arriving in the Summerview District. Ritchie had a younger brother Frank Sydney, also born in England. The junior Ritchie was born in October 1885 and came to Canada at the age of 21 years, in 1906.

Augustus Ritchie filed on his homestead (Section 34, Township 7, Range 29, West of the 4th Meridian) effective September 27th, 1904 and received patent to it on May 12th, 1908. He made several farming as well as building improvements over the next several years. These included herds of ten cattle and ten horses which dated back to 1905. By 1907, Augustus had thirty acres ploughed and planted in crops. The construction of buildings included a 12 by 24 frame house worth two-hundred dollars, a 28 by 42 stable valued at 400 dollars, a granary worth 150 dollars, a hen house worth fifty dollars, and a corral, sheds and pig pens totaling 75 dollars. There were two water wells, one to a depth of five dollars and the second eight feet deep, which as a pair were worth 25 dollars.

Sibling Frank filed on two nearby homesteads, one being the southwest quarter of Section 10, Township 8, Range 29, West of the 4th Meridian. His second property was in Section 11. The Section 10 homestead was filed on effective December 4th, 1906 and Frank received title to it on June 26th, 1911. A. E. Cox (1856 – 1946) served as the local land agent for Ritchie’s application. Almost immediately, Frank established a herd of ten horses on the quarter supplemented by thirty hogs. He also worked with his brother Augustus in raising Percheron horses. By 1908, he had ploughed and seeded 85 acres in crops. Outbuildings featured a granary valued at $100 and a horse barn worth $125 supplemented by two-and-a-quarter miles of parameter fencing worth over 200 dollars.

The three Ritchie homesteads were separated by less than two miles and were in easy walking distance of each other. The properties were known for their good soil and water conditions, particularly during the annual spring seasons. Crops were generally favourable during the good years. Produce and cattle were marketed via the Brocket Depot of the Canadian Pacific Railway, located some four miles to the southeast. Only occasionally were used the stockyards at Pincher City, situated over six miles distance from the Ritchie homesteads.

Augustus Ritchie was married to the former Emma Ellen Hartley, although her given name is listed in the 1911 Dominion of Canada Census as Helen. She hailed from Ontario and was born in February 1884, less than a year after her husband’s birth. Her father was enumerated in the 1901 Census as Alex. G. Hartley who was born April 26th, 1838. Her mother also was Emma Hartley; she too came from Ontario. She was born on May 4th, 1840. There was one other child in the Hartley family, a son Samuel C. who was born on November 21st, 1882. Augustus and Ellen were married in 1909 at Summerview.

Augustus and Emma Ritchie had two sons and two daughters, all of whom lived into adulthood and had their own families. Their eldest child was George who was born on the homestead in November 1909. The Ritchie children were amongst the earlier students to attend the original school operated by the Summerview School District No. 1360. The school was established shortly after the turn of the century and continued to provide a teaching setting for rural students living north of the Oldman River till the 1950s. Its first school burn to the ground in 1930 and was replaced a couple of years later by a new school house accompanied by a barn.

Religiously, all of the early Ritchie and Hartley family members except for Frank belonged to the Presbyterian Church. Frank Ritchie was a member of a branch of the Methodist Church. Primitive travel conditions of the pioneer era prevented them from attending church services in Pincher Creek on a regular basis, although there was briefly a Methodist Church in Pincher City during the early pioneer era.

In 1923, the Ritchie Family moved to Vancouver where they took up permanent residence. However, they did keep in touch with friends and neighbors from the Summerview District. Augustus Ritchie passed away on Thursday, December 4th, 1947 following a short illness. He was 64 years of age. Frank passed away over a decade later on March 9th, 1961 in the central Alberta community of Camrose.

The Ritchie and Hartley families are two of those pioneer clans for which we are seeking additional historical information. We truly would appreciate hearing from those people who have some of those early chronicles. Please give Farley at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village a call at (403) 627-3684 (or email him at fswuth.kbpv@gmail.vcom) should you have some history to offer.

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