5th Row from the South
01st Tombstone from the East
My name is William Dougal McEwen and my ancestors had strong North West Mounted Police connections.
I was born on November 21st, 1882 and passed away on December 14th, 1963 at the age of 81 years. I was the son of Peter McEwen and Mary Gladstone, pioneers of the Pincher Creek, Mountain Mill and Cowley districts. Although encouraged by my family to study law back east, the call of the western Canadian frontier had a stronger appeal. I chose to work as a cowboy on the local ranches. Initially I worked for Calgary Stampede founder Pat Burns at his Waterton Ranch. I also was a ranch hand on the famed Walrond Ranch. Shortly afterwards I drove the stage and delivered the mail on the Pincher Creek, Beaver Mines and Twin Butte route. Changeable winter weather oft made this route perilous. In 1923, I started hauling freight at Waterton Lakes. Here I continued to work until my retirement nearly 40 years later.
My father Peter McEwen was born in Perth, Ontario in December 1857 and came west to Fort Macleod in 1877 with the North West Mounted Police. He served a seven year term under Colonel Macleod and took his discharge when his term was up on June 5th, 1880, also signed by Colonel Macleod. His regimental number was 233 and he was one of fourteen men from Lanark County in Ontario who petitioned the Dominion Government to join the Force. The five foot nine inch recruit weighed 166 pounds when he joined up. He often served as Police teamster and had some very interesting stories to tell. Teamster work obviously was a skill he passed onto me. My father, along with eight others from the Force, was sent west to establish a horse ranch for the N.W.M.P. This became the first settlement of Pincher Creek.
After leaving the Force, he homesteaded near Mountain Mill, on the South Fork of the Oldman River.
Peter McEwen married Mary Gladstone, a daughter of Mountain Mill carpenter William Gladstone and Harriet LeBlanc who was of First Nations ancestry. They had several children, the eldest being I, William (Bill) Dougal McEwen being born at Fort Macleod. As a youngster I was known as “Billie”. Two other boys – Fred and Pete – survived into adulthood. I believe three other children died previous s my mother’s death in 1890.
During this time, Pete carried on some ranching and also freighted between Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Fort Benton. Later, Pete McEwen ranched on what was known as the “Tench” Place till the early 1900s. He and the family then moved to Cowley which, previous to the railroad coming through, was known as “French Flats” as the early settlers there mostly were French. Pete was among those granted a second homestead, being west of the Great Lakes in 1885. He proved up in three years and later moved into the village of Cowley, where he carried on a livery business for some time. The McEwens resided on Railway Avenue which faced the C.P.R. tracks. Pete served with the Home Guards in Banff in 1916 and the following year with the War Detention Camp. He worked as a local teamster, transporting the mail from Cowley to Livingstone and Gillingham. He also was a foreman on haying outfits. Pete passed away after a short illness the morning of Wednesday, February 20th, 1929 at the age of 73.
My father married his second wife, Edith May Sharpe, in 1894 in Pincher Creek. Born in England on March 13th, 1864, she came west from Ottawa in 1890 with Mr. and Mrs. Robert Clarkson, as a maid, to look after their one son, who will be remembered as “Chappie”. Her parents the Sharpes, originally from England, were caretakers and lived in the carriage house at the Governor General’s Residence at Rideau Hall.
Several children were born to Pete and Edith. The first was Ernest who was born on the ranch on December 10th, 1894. A brother Alexander, also known as Sandy, was killed in action overseas in France in 1916 during the First World War. As adults, sisters Ruby and Agnes resided in B.C. and Ontario respectively while Doris married Edward Baines, for years the C.P.R. Station Agent in Cowley and Jean married Vern Burns, a Pincher Creek mens’ wear merchant. Jean had a passion for local history and was very active in the Pincher Creek and District Historical Society.