Chestermere Historical Foundation Members Visit Prairie Waters Elementary School

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The Grade two classes at Prairie Waters Elementary School were taken back in time not in a Delorian from Back to the future fame, but by a recent presentation by members of the Chestermere Historical Foundation.

The children were able to see a traveling display that included old cameras, a portable record player complete with a Billy Vaughn album, and a potato masher that made spaghetti like spuds. There was even an old pair of strap on roller skates compliments of Audrey McDonald that were so heavy it would make wearing additional ankle weights unthinkable or even cruel.

Sharing the significance of the town’s Cairn was Bill Porter, the first mayor of Chestermere when it became a summer village capable of its own governing. The charismatic Porter at 69 years of age shared information about his role in the town’s history since coming to the area in 1959. He told of the success of Cabin Owner’s Association in acquiring ownership rights from the Western Irrigation District of the then leased lots and creating a summer village.

The children were engaged in a discussion noting the significance of the stone Cairn located in the SW corner of the Cove in Founder’s Point. This time capsule which was erected by the Cabin Owner’s Association in 2002 marked the summer village’s 25 anniversary. Margaret Farch, another member from the association was able to be on hand. It is possible that these students will be present for the opening of the capsule in 2052 and will have had the opportunity of meeting two of the original members responsible for its installation.

One of the highlights of the visit to tie in with the school’s social studies curriculum of solids into liquids was the demonstration of making butter from cream. Kay Clark, long time Chestermere area resident was on hand with her butter churn and other artifacts from the days when butter was made in house. After much elbow grease from many young and old hands, the children were able to see firsthand the process of butter making right to the final pressing of the brick in a wooden mold.

Clark whose family settled on the east side of the lake long before the arrival of the first cabins lived and breathed the dairy life. She gave a lively demonstration with artifacts and pictures from the days on her farm and shared what life was like as she and her family grew up along the lake. At the other end of the table McDonald led the children in the art of meringue through the old method of hand beating egg whites.

Jen Peddlesden, or Granny Jen as she likes to be called, came dressed for the occasion sporting an apron and bonnet that would have been worn around the turn of the 20th century. In her enthusiastic presentation she showed the children a fresno, a type of scraper or bucket that would have been pulled by 4 horses to dredge the slough that would become Chestermere’s lake.

A refurbished fresno will soon be on display just north of the library along the lake path. When you see it take time to ponder Peddlesden’s words that the efforts of one day’s labor would fill a large garage full of dirt to get an idea of the time and work that went into building the lake.

The teaching team summed up the presentation by asking students why these artifacts were no longer used. The words better and easier came up, and the kids were able to gain an appreciation for the hard physical work of previous generations.

The Historical Foundation has worked hard over the years and with great love to preserving the town’s history through its dedication to documenting family and area history. It’s important to remember the foundation that great communities are built on. We grow and stand on the shoulders of those before us, both in our families and our community and when we honor this we become somewhat humbled and also inspired knowing we too are a link in the chain.

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Lori Nielsen


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