TOWN OF PINCHER CREEK POLITICAL CHRONICLES FROM THE EARLY 1920s
by Farley Wuth, Curator,
Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society
Harvey Bossenberry, the operator of the Haberdasher, a men’s wear store on Main Street served as the Town of Pincher Creek’s Mayor during most of the 1920s. Here are some of some of the political chronicles of that era.
HARVEY BOSSENBERRY IN A HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Harvey Bossenberry was our Town’s fifth Mayor. His predecessors included J. H. McEachern who served the initial term in 1906. James Scott, connected with the impressive Scott Block on the south side of Main Street, was Mayor till 1910. Arlington Hotel propeitor William R. Dobbie held the position till 1914. R. O. Allison who operated a farm implement dealership served as Pincher Creek’s Mayor from 1914 to 1917. The following term was filled by original store owner and banker Henry E. Hyde.
Bossenberry’s initial Council from 1920 and 1921 consisted of six most of who had strong business connections. Roland Allison, who served non-consecutive terms as Mayor, remained in municipal politics as a Councilor. Active in curling and football circles, he operated his dealership for an impressive 38 years till his 1941 passing. Thomas Herron Scott, the brother of former Mayor James Scott, too served on Council. Also on Council Harry Purkis who lived on the north side of town and was a long time employee of the hardware firm Jackson Bros. Alex (Mac) McMurdo, active in musical and church affairs, was a member of Council. Further members featured W. P. Lees and C. H. Watson.
George David Plunkett had served as the Town’s Secretary-Treasurer since 1907. Back in March 1911, Council pegged his annual salary at 1,000 dollars. Local pioneer J. F. Kelly served two administrative roles, that of Superintendent of Public Works as well as Town Constable.
A private corporation, the Pincher Creek Water and Light Company operated a quality gravity water system for the Town. Bossenberry and his municipal colleagues were pleased with the high quantity of “pure sparkling mountain water” guaranteed Town residents through this system. A network of wooden water lines encased by wire mesh was in place. A municipally operated plant supplied electricity for the town. Lou Taylor worked as an electrician in the powerhouse. His salary of one hundred dollars per month was confirmed by the Town Council meeting of Monday, February 17th, 1922.
CIVIC ISSUES AND FURTHER ELECTIONS
One of the issues faced by Town Council late in 1921 was a curfew for local children. Enforced was a bylaw requiring children up to the age of sixteen years remain at home during evening and night hours. During autumn and winter months, from October through March, youngsters had to be off the streets by 9 p.m. Likely due to the extra daylight enjoyed the rest of the year, spring and summer non-curfew hours were extended by an hour to 10 p.m. Exceptions were made for children accompanied by a parent or for those who could supply a “satisfactory reason” for being out so late. The engineer at the powerhouse was instructed to ring the fire bell at the appointed hour so children be reminded to return home. The issue was prompted by a letter received by the Pincher Creek Public School Board. Education officials likely were concerned about study habits and ensuring their pupils receive enough rest.
Municipal elections were held on Monday, December 12th, 1921. Harvey Bossenberry put in his name for re-election. Previous to being Mayor he served as a Councilor. He was challenged for the Mayoralty by Duncan Charles McDougall (1868 – 1934). Arriving in the community in 1904, he first taught school at Beauvais Lake. He then served as the Principal of the Pincher Creek Public School. He and his wife, the former May Kettles, were wed in November 1907. McDougall was a newcomer to municipal politics but for most of the previous decade was active within the United Farmers of Alberta. The election results were 141 for Bossenberry and 37 for McDougall. Council members were chosen by the public on a rotational basis and the three selected by acclamation this time around were Thomas Scott, Harry Purkis and F. L. Rhodes. The latter was the newcomer to Council.
The issue of electric light expenses for the skating rink located to the north of the creek was raised during the winter of 1921-22. Council informed the public that the Town would pay for these costs as the local hockey club had very limited finances.
During the summer of 1924, Council was approached by the Pincher Creek Board of Trade exhaling the value of its business programs. The group was attempting to attract new commercial outlets into the community as well as encourage tourism. The representative who made the presentation was Richard Morgan who operated a garage, Pincher Creek Motors, on East Avenue. Town Council approved a grant of 150 dollars to further these commercial endeavours.