Andy Reid was a true friend of the community

Andrew Reid was one of the first settlers in the Ponoka area, and after establishing the original homesteads with his three brothers just east of town he moved into town as a young man, went into business, and raised his family.

Andy Reid was a prominent and involved member of Ponoka.

Andrew Reid was one of the first settlers in the Ponoka area, and after establishing the original homesteads with his three brothers just east of town he moved into town as a young man, went into business, and raised his family. This tall and stately gentleman quickly became a good friend to all who got to know him, and as well as running his popular store on 51st Avenue Andy would become involved in countless community activities for his entire rich and active life.

After the census was taken in Ponoka in 1904, a meeting was held in Reid’s Hall (located above his busy store) with a vital move made towards the incorporation of the growing village to a town. Andy ran and won one of the first seats on the new Ponoka Town Council, and continued to take an active part in town affairs until after 1925. As the town grew, Reid’s store grew with it, doubling in size before 1910 and tripling by 1915, requiring extensive renovations and added staff. Those were the hectic days and quite often his good wife Anna was called to leave her home duties to assist at the store, while their young son George became the first delivery boy after school and on Saturdays.

Some things remembered amongst our colourful community nostalgia included the many wonderful clerks at Reid’s Store, far too numerous to name, the grocery department with the large wooden barrels of dill pickles and sauerkraut, the huge blocks of cheese which would be cut paper thin, the pungent smell of coffee being ground, the keg of cider that turned to vinegar, the dairy butter-good and bad, upgraded eggs and the barter money! Then there was the dry goods department with its boxes of corsets, bolts of yard goods, ribbons and laces, ladies’ woollen underwear, cotton stockings, and the in-style Buster Brown stockings for boys and girls. In the centre of the store above all the goods was Andy’s office, where he diligently applied himself to the books and bills. In front of the big store, held by a heavy weight, was the rickety delivery cart that was pulled around town by two classy black ponies called Jim and Jerry. Saturday nights were especially exciting, as the week’s work was finished and the farm people came to town for a gala time of visiting, shopping, a show, or a lively jitney dance! Not until the midnight hour were the exhausted clerks able to lock up the door and go home.

In the spring the Indians would come into town in droves from Hobbema in their wagons and set up a teepee town on the east side of the Battle River in what now is the Riverside district. This happy go lucky and always peaceful group held a colourful powwow and tribal dancing, and the excited local merchants always knew that trade would be brisk for a few days. One of the unique traditions was a sun dance ring, a ceremony usually only held on the reservation, as well as a willow pole covered with dollar bills displayed in the store window, a gift from Chief Sampson and band, which was ceremoniously presented to the merchant, who in turn made a presentation of goods to the always welcome visitors. Andy Reid was always a friend of the Indians, learned their language, especially pertaining to business and always enjoyed teasing and joking with them. They learned to trust him, and later gave him the honorary name of “Kwea Kiwinaway”, meaning Red Cheeks.

Extreme sadness came to the Reid household in 1919 with the death of Andrew’s wife Anna, and he would become the mother and father to seven rambunctious children between the ages of six months to 16 years. To add to his burden, these were the post war years and business was unstable and credit deadly. In 1922 Andy married Jonina Goodman, a teacher and former protegy of the Ponoka High School. In 1925, after 22 successful years in his own store Andy sold out his general mercantile business to the U.F.A. Co-operative Association and ventured into a new life and career.

Several years later he became the Police Magistrate for the thriving Town of Ponoka, and then the Judge of the Juvenile Court. In this capacity he continued to be a trustworthy friend to all, and served happily until his death in 1943. The original Reid home, after the log cabin, was located across from the Presbyterian Church and school, and later became Evelyn’s Flower House. In 1916 he moved his growing family to the big house on Donald Avenue (51st) street, which served as home until Nina’s death in 1957. Andrew’s brother Joseph continued to farm and raise his family on the original homestead east of Ponoka until his passing in 1961 at the age of 85, but that is another story for a later edition of Reflections.

The Reid family would proudly follow in their father’s footsteps throughout their very active lives, raising large families, and often wandering away from home to seek fame and fortune just like the original Reid brothers had done so many decades before. Initial family members included: Ambrose, George (wife Muriel), Elizabeth (husband Henry Lysne), Gladys (husband Lew Norrison), Norman (wife Mae), Donald (wife Janet), Margery (husband Howard Beaton), Wilma (husband Hilton Rix), Dorothy (husband Charles Dobi), Shirley (husband Garth Waines) and Jean, and husband Douglas Egger; and of course their many offspring who have carried on the keen family name and traditions to this day, here and in many other locations.

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