This 1907 photo features Mr. and Mrs. Thomas William Lucas and their daughters Amy and Marjorie, who along with the rest of their seven children would grow up and live on the original Twin Lakes Farm for many years. The pristine property was one of the first homesteads that had been settled in the Eastside District northwest of Ponoka by Samuel and Amelia Lucas in 1883. Photo from Ponoka Panorama History Book

REFLECTIONS: Generations of the Lucas family have made their home in Ponoka area since the early 1800s

By Mike Rainone for the News

The long and colorful story of the Lucas family and their dedicated involvement in and around the Ponoka area began all the way back in 1881 with the arrival of Sam Lucas and his wife Amelia and children from Hull, Quebec, and has carried on for over 140 exciting years and countless generations to this very day.

Samuel L. and Amelia F. Lucas

Sam Lucas came west as a Government surveyor, with much of his work done around the then rugged and rolling Wetaskiwin, Pigeon Lake, and Ponoka areas. In 1881 he would return to Ottawa for his wife and three children Emma, Thomas, William, and Howard, and were accompanied on the gruelling three-month return trip by train and Red River Cart to their new chosen home in the Peace Hills of the Alberta prairies by Frank Arnold and his bride Margaret, as well as brother-in-law James Aylwin.

Son Will recalled that the train only went as far as Winnipeg, and that the carts were so slow that his father would ride ahead on horseback to set up the camp and fire, and then wait for the rest of the group to arrive while being accompanied only by the mournful howls of the coyotes. After having to spend a while at Fort Edmonton during the rebellion S.B. Lucas would become a farm instructor at Peace Hills in 1885 and would move his family into a log cabin only a short distance away from Fort Ethier. Sam Lucas would later become the Sub-Agent of the First Nation’s Reserves which were situated in the area from Wetaskiwin south and west to Ponoka, a position he would serve until 1891. While at Peace Hills Sam and Amelia would welcome their three daughters Mary, Clara, Judith, and a son Harry to the family.

In 1891 Mr. Lucas was transferred to the Sarcee Reserve near Calgary, where he served as the agent until 1897 and then returned with the family the Ponoka area to semi-retire on the pristine homestead that Sam had filed on in 1893 and would become known over years as Twin Lakes Farm. Sam and Amelia and their seven children were good friends and neighbours over the years, with Mr. Lucas passing away suddenly on February 13, 1907 and his wife in 1918.

Thomas William and Eleanor Lucas

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Lucas had travelled west with his parents in 1881, and after taking all his schooling from a Governess in St. Albert he would return to Ponoka at the age of 18 years and went to work on the family homestead at Twin Lakes until 1897. The year before William had filed on a homestead located between his parent’s farm and the Village of Ponoka and after becoming tired of being a bachelor he would take Eleanor Bishop Robinson as his bride. They lived on their homestead until January 1903 when William would become the farm instructor at the Old First Nations Agency, where the couple would live until 1915. They would then return to take over the first family homestead, as well as also purchasing those of his brother Howard and his brother-in-law George Ferguson. Over the years William and Eleanor would become very good friends and neighbours with the First Nations families, learning to speak the Cree language, extending assistance wherever needed, as well as enjoying a great deal of fair buying, trading, and selling to each other. Along the way they would welcome their active family of daughters Amy, Marjorie, Clara, Eleanor, Emma, Doris, Francis, and son Howard, most of whom remained in the Ponoka district, married, and raised their own families.

In the fall of 1918 the family had to move into Ponoka because of Will’s health, but returned to the farm in the spring of 1920. As well as the chores and mixed farm work, Will and Eleanor and their family would also really enjoy raising their precious silver foxes, badgers, coon, and chinchilla rabbits, which would all provide very rich pelts every season until they sold out in 1939. Will Lucas would also take on several mail routes around the district, which would eventually become a full-time job, so they would move into Ponoka in 1935 into a rapidly growing neighbourhood that would soon become known as Lucas Heights. William Lucas passed away at his home on Sept. 22, 1937, and after marrying Alexander Johnston in 1942 Eleanor (Nellie) would live out her very active life in the town she loved so much.

Howard and Esther Lucas

Howard Lucas, the only son of Will and Nellie Lucas was born on October 29, 1909 at the Old First Nations Agency where his father was a Farm Instructor. In April 1915 he and his parents and sisters would move to their palatial family homestead at Twin Lakes, where he worked hard on the farm, attended school at Eastside and Ponoka, and grew into manhood. On Sept. 6, 1934 Howard would marry Esther Newton, the oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Newton, and the happy couple would move to his father’s farm, where he would tend to the growing business of farming as well as welcoming a family along the way.

Early in 1934 Howard Lucas would take over the Ponoka Rural Mail No. 1 Route, which had been faithfully served by his father and which he would carry on with the help of his wife Esther. In the fall of 1945 they would add Mail Route No. 2 to their vigorous daily work load, and after making the vital task of carrying the rural mail a full time job they would move their growing family into a home in the Riverside district of Ponoka. Along the way Howard and Esther would welcome four children, including Shirley, Norma, Bill, and a twin brother who passed away at birth. The children would take all their education in our town and district schools and then get married — Shirley to Warren Hummelle, Norma to Les Lloyd, and Bill to Peggy Lucas, all of whom have raised their families and faithfully continued to work, operate their businesses, and support their community in and around Ponoka to this day. As the generations carry on they will always proudly strive to carry on the longstanding Lucas family tradition, which had began all the way back in 1881.

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