THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DR. LELAND WALKEY
Farley Wuth, Curator,
Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society
Dr. Leland Whitfield Walkey was a medical doctor who served in Pincher Creek during the late 1910s, throughout the 1920s, and into the 1930s. His local contributions have an interesting history.
Walkey was born in Elmwood, Ontario on December 12th, 1884. The Walkeys were a large extended family in southern Ontario. It is known that Leland had at least one younger brother, Lesmond C., who was born February 23rd, 1887. As an adult, he resided in Vancouver. There was a third Walkey brother, now only known by his initials J. W. who years later lived in Toronto. The family was English in ancestry.
PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL PURSUITS
As a young adult, Leland studied medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston, graduating in 1912, in his 28th year. The following year, 1913, he ventured into Western Canada where he pursued a medical career as a doctor. His first practice was at Lomond, a rural farming community east of Vulcan, Alberta where he remained for a few years.
Later he decided to set up shop in Pincher Creek. Walkey succeeded a series of pioneer era local doctors, most notably Drs. Goforth, Mead, Malcolmson and Connor. The new recruit built up a general practice which served both this ranching commercial centre as well as the outlying districts. People came from as far away as Cowley and Lundbreck for his medical services. It was an immediate success and he was literally overwhelmed with patients. The hard work and long hours which he endured over several years proved to be too much for him and he unfortunately suffered a relapse in his health. With much regret he gave up his Pincher Creek practice circa 1932.
Retaining his abiding interest in a medical practice, Dr. Walkey headed off to Chicago where he took further medical studies, specializing in eye, ear, nose and throat care. Returning out west, the ever ambitious doctor established a specialized practice in the nearby city of Lethbridge as of June 1936. His Lethbridge office was located at 311 ½ 5th Street South, and his phone number was 4122. The opening of his new practice was advertized in the Pincher Creek Echo. This practice he remained at for at least thirty months but his medical pursuits were tragically cut short with his early death on Friday, November 11th, 1938. He was just a month short of his 54th birthday. His demise was publicly lamented in the pages of Pincher Creek’s weekly newspaper.
COMMUNITY AND FAMILY ENDEAVOURS
Dr. Walkey’s medical service in Pincher Creek may have been curtailed due to his health concerns but while here, his local contributions extended beyond his practice. He was very active in the community. Walkey worshiped at the Pincher Creek United Church on Police Avenue and continued his religious affiliation with the Southminster United Church upon his move to Lethbridge. He held memberships in the Masonic Lodge and the Order of the Eastern Star. For several years Walkey held a seat on Pincher Creek’s Town Council and also served on the Board of the Pincher Creek School District Number 121.
Leland Walkey had a family of his own. On January 7th, 1914 he was united in marriage with the former Janet M. Wilson, born in 1892 in Gananoque, Ontario but who was raised in Winnipeg. There were at least eight children equally divided between the genders in the Wilson Family. The Walkeys were blessed with five sons: Cecil, Leland, Donald, Jack and Douglas, the latter of whom passed away as a child back in 1921. Their eldest son Cecil was enrolled in Grade Seven at the Pincher Creek Public School in 1928 and attended his class reunion held in 1970. As a young adult in 1935, he served as a teacher in the Marr School District south of Pincher Creek but like his father, later became a doctor, being stationed in Duncan, B.C. In the late 1950s, Leland resided in Calgary and Jack lived in Edmonton. Donald W., who served with the Canadian Air Force, resided in Lethbridge, Montreal and Calgary during the 1940s and 1950s. He married Dorothy Elizabeth Oates of Lethbridge in August 1947.
Mrs. Janet Wilson Walkey too was active in the United Church nestled in this ranching community, particularly in its Women’s Missionary Society. She organized a fundraising tea centered on a program of entertainment and social gathering at the Walkey family home in March 1929. Following the death of Dr. Walkey, Mrs. Walkey continued to reside in Lethbridge. In 1948 she married Thomas Benson. She was killed in a train accident near Parkland, Alberta the morning of Saturday, October 24th, 1959.
The Walkey residence in Pincher Creek was one and a half storey frame dwelling now enumerated at 784 Schofield Street. Centrally located on the south side of town, it was within close walking distance of many of Walkey’s community endeavours. The United Church was located just down the street to the left, and Pincher Creek’s Town Hall, constructed back during the 1912 – 1915 time period was only a block further to the west. The old Public School and its grounds, which were one of the mainstays of the Pincher Creek School District, were literally located across the street from the Walkeys’ house. The family residence was noted for its enclosed north facing front porch, a small brick fireplace and a second floor attic, subsequently largely converted into an extensive galley room, which served over the ensuing generations as a number of living and office purposes. Folklore indicates that the septic field was buried out back.
The Walkey Family’s twelve to fourteen year residence in Pincher Creek did leave a legacy here.
Sources: Adapted from “Mrs. Walkey Will Be Hostess To W.M.S.”, The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXIX, No. 33, Friday, 15th March 1929, p. ; [Teachers’ Convention from Twin Butte and Area School Districts Included Cecil Walkey of Marr School], Fourth Paragraph, “Twin Butte” (C), The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXXVI, No. 13, Thursday, 24th October 1935, p. ; [Marr School Teacher Cecil Walkey Visits His Mother in Town], First Paragraph, “Marr” (C), The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXXVI, No. 14, Thursday, 31st October 1935, p. ; [Dr. L W. Walkey Notice re Lethbridge Practice], The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXXVI, No. 47, Thursday, 18th June 1936, p. ; “Death Of Dr. Walkey”, The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXXIX, No. 17, Thursday, 17th November 1938, p. ; “Walkey-Oates”, The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XLVIII, No. 47, Thursday, 11th September 1947, p. ; “Funeral Wednes. For Mrs. Benson”, The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. 60, No. 11, Thursday, 29th October 1959, p. 1; “Attenders Of 1928 Class Re-Union” (P), The Pincher Creek Echo, 03rd October 1970; Henderson’s Directories for 1924 and 1928/29, “Pincher Creek”, Reference to Dr. Walkey; Dominion of Canada, Census for 1901, Historical Data re the Walkey Family; Pincher Creek and District Historical Society, Cataloguing Database re the Walkey Family; the family records of the Ray and Shirley Scotton Family, Cowley, Alberta; and Historical Information re 784 Schofield Street, Pincher Creek.