The first settlement of the rugged and rolling countryside near Chain Lakes southeast of Ponoka began in 1900, and with the steady arrival of many pioneer families, the Concord District was officially organized as a Local Improvement area in 1904.
Gustave Malchow and P.R. Stewart were the initial councillors for the district, and the Malchow Brothers would introduce the first threshing machine operated by a large team of horses. In the early days, countless log homes and barns appeared throughout the district and were all constructed with the keen co-operation and help of the neighbours during spirited ‘work bees’, usually followed by a weekend family picnic. This friendly and caring tradition has carried on in the thriving and growing Concord district for many decades throughout several generations, and proudly continues to this day.
The Concord Ladies Group
The Concord Ladies Group was organized in 1942 at a meeting held in the home of Mrs. Dave Parks, with Mrs. Pearl Bingeman being named as the first president and Miss Verna Edwards the secretary-treasurer. One of the first projects for the enthusiastic new district group was doing hand work for the Salvation Army as well as donating to the care packages that were sent to our Canadian soldiers overseas.
Long-time group member Carla Griffiths fondly recalls that the first monthly dues were 25 cents a month, but over the years increased a little, and now stand at just $5. The proud tradition of meeting in each other’s home still continues, with the hostess choosing and reading a portion of scripture, followed by the Lord’s Prayer, and then getting on with the congenial business at hand. Another favourite over the years at the Concord meetings has the been ‘Secret Sister’ program, where everyone is remembered on their birthdays and anniversaries. The afternoon meetings are now held on the third Monday of each month, and new members or visitors are always welcome. Dedicated members who have served the Concord Ladies Group over the past 70 plus years have included: Edith McCaughey, Vivian (Onesto) Reid, Amy Parks, Margaret McCaughey, Pearl Bingeman, Anna Pederson, Eileen Davison, Elsie Yetz, Mildred Lyons, Alice Mottet, Leora Parks, Louise Berg, Margaret (Killeen) Praud, Beatrice Randles, Rosa Schierer, Marion Meredith, Phoebe Scott, Cellie MacMillan, Dene Fraser, Dell Fate, Eileen (Albers) Johnson, Helen McCaughey, Thelma-Eileen –Peggy-Diane- and Catherine McLaren, Lisa Ostergaard, Elsie and Kathleen Bingeman, Margie Griffiths, Gleneda Williams, Verna (Edwards) Purnell, Pearl Griffiths, Laura Berg, Gladys Feregan, Edna Morin, Lizzie Reeves, Margorie Maser (Dewhirst), Lena Edwards, Mary Yadlos, Helena Larsen, Helena Flllinger, Carol Jensen, Gladys Fraser, Ruby Pregitzer, Cora Scott, Marilyn Smith, Susan Onesto, and others. The current Concord Ladies Group is featured in the ‘Remember When’ photo beside this story. Following are only a few of the high-lights and milestones that the group has accomplished to support and raise funds for so many special causes along the way, and are looking forward to continuing long into the future.
*During the early years they looked forward to spending a day twice a year helping at the Bethany Care Home in Gwynne, also making quilts, pyjamas, sheets and much more for the young residents. There was also the ‘Whispering Hope’ private home out in Bluffton for handicapped children, for which the Concord Ladies also sewed and knitted many items as well as visited with treats.
*When the old Elk’s Hall was on Chipman Avenue in Ponoka, the Concord group hosted many teas and bazaars, where they sold and raffled a wide variety of their delightful hand crafted items and culinary treats. Some of the many other community events that they so willingly took on over the years were catering to weddings, auction sale lunches and funerals as well as special events for members and neighbours, and faithfully sending cards, gifts, and flowers to the ill or bereaved.
*For our Centennial Year in 2004, the Concord Ladies hooked a magnificent design rug, which was sold at the Ponoka County Fair. Ongoing annual events for the group are a ‘birthday of the month’ meal and sing-song at Ponoka Long Term Care Centre, hosting a local senior coffee hour, as well as giving the nourishing gift of oranges to the Rising Sun Clubhouse, Rimoka, Northcott, Reid Manor and Champion’s Place every Christmas. They also enjoy co-sponsoring the popular Strawberry Social and Soup and Biscuit Night at the Zion Church with their busy ladies’ club, and have assisted and donated on a regular basis to the General Hospital Ladies Auxiliary, Heart and Stroke Fund, Wheel Chair Van, Crippled Children’s Society and the list goes on.
*The very active Concord Ladies’ Club does not meet in July and August, but they always schedule a delightful ‘day trip’ with their husbands (when they’ll come) or invited guests to visit a specialty shop or museum, and there is even a ‘sweetheart’ dinner in February.
For over seven exciting decades, this closely-knit Concord Ladies’ Group have graciously worked together in countless projects and hosted a number of ongoing events that have benefited families, individuals, groups and special causes not only in their country district, but throughout the areas in and around Ponoka and beyond. The wonderful spirit, care and dedication of groups like the Concord Ladies and so many others that were organized in those early days were a vital part of the foundation on which our communities and our heritage was built. Their days, then and now, were always long and extremely busy with work and family, but they always found the time to welcome others and to assist them in so many ways as good neighbours and friends, through the good times and the tough times, and we salute them for their outstanding and ongoing efforts.