This 1915 photo shows the owners and staff of Andy Reid’s Dry Good Store, which was opened in 1903 and faithfully served the growing new town of Ponoka for 22 years. Shown from left to right amongst all the packed shelves of exciting but always necessary early household items are: customer Mrs. Fuller, clerk Mrs. W.L. Ferries, owner Mr. Andrew Reid, and clerks Mr. Carl Beck and Miss Bella Grey. Photo courtesy of Ponoka Panorama History Book

Reflections: Looking back at the Reid family in Ponoka

Among the earliest Ponoka settlers were the Reid brothers, William, Andrew, Joseph, and David.

By Mike Rainone for the News

Late in the 18th century our first hardy pioneer families began arriving in the sparsely populated rugged and fertile prairies of Alberta looking for exciting new opportunities and lifestyles.

They came by all modes of transportation from the United States and across the oceans and once settled in their new homesteads, districts, and communities they proudly began to carry on and contribute to our long and proud history, heritage, and traditions going into the future.

Among the earliest settlers in the Ponoka district were the Reid brothers, William, Andrew, Joseph, and David. William, who was claimed to have ridden his horse Buck all the way from Oregon in search of work arrived in 1893 and took up land four miles northwest of the village sight and would later marry Miss Emma Tyner of the Ferrybank district in 1899. A brother Andrew, who was born in Ireland and worked as a streetcar conductor in Liverpool before venturing to Oregon to join his sisters Lizzie and Rachel would finally decide to join his brother William in 1895 and filed on a quarter section of land near where the Forest Home cemetery is now located. The Brothers Joseph and David arrived in the district in 1898, both settling on homesteads northwest of town, with Joe marrying Mary C. Larsen in 1903 while David moved back to Oregon two years later.

At the time of Andy’s arrival the only building in the Village of Ponoka was the CPR Railway depot, but bound and determined to succeed he and his brother William would live together for six months and then built their log cabins and worked very hard to later become the first homesteaders in the area to obtain the title rights to their land. Andy married Anna A. Larsen in 1900, and following her death in 1919 he married Miss Jonina L. Goodman.

Ponoka’s first entrepreneur?

Like so many other early homesteaders Andy depended on work with the CPR for his sustenance, and the two brothers would take turns working on the railway and on their own land.

They loved to explore the countryside on their ponies while picking up the mail at Holbrook, often stopping to help others, but mostly to visit and share some gala old Irish stories, fun, and laughter, but it was also on these popular excursions that they began doing a little courting.

By 1900 Ponoka had grown into a bustling village, and just by chance Andrew Reid became a merchant rather than a farmer, assisting at the Ponoka branch of the Lacombe Farmers Co-operative store as well as in the shops of Fred Lee and Bill Kennedy along Railway Street. With this experience he jumped at the opportunity of going into business for himself, buying a building of his own and stock from Henry Dick in 1903. After the provincial census in 1904 a meeting was held in Reid’s Hall with the purpose of moving towards the incorporation of Ponoka as a town, which happened the same year. Andy Reid served on the town council and took an active part in the business promotion of the community for many years, as well as being the first secretary-treasurer of the local Presbyterian Church.

As the town grew at a rapid pace so did Andy Reid’s Dry Good Store, doubling in size by 1910 and expanding again in 1915 and always packed to the rafters with ample supplies and treats to serve the needs of hundreds of new citizens from the urban and rural districts. These would include all sorts of grocery items, wooden barrels of dill pickles and sauerkraut, huge blocks of cheese, butter, eggs, and so much more. Andy and Anna Reid and their always congenial staff also had a fine supply of linens, clothes, arts, silks, and blendings as well as knick-knacks for all ages, with their young son George delivering the boxes of goods to the customers in a livery cart pulled by two black ponies called Jim and Jerry.

For many years Saturday nights were especially exciting at the Reid Hall in Ponoka, as the week’s work was done and the farm folks came to town to join the locals for a gala time of visiting, shopping, a show and jitney dance, and not until midnight were clerks able to lock up the doors and go home. In the spring the First Nations from Hobbema would come into town in droves in their wagons, setting up their teepee town on the east side of the Battle River. The ladies loved to spend their money on the brightest cotton goods, and then in the evening treated everyone to their colourful dances. Andy Reid was always a very good friend and had a great respect for the First Nations, learning their language, and really enjoyed teasing and joking with them, as well as trading and bartering for all sorts of goods and fair deals. They called him ‘Kwea Kiwinaway’ which meant ‘Red cheeks.’ The original family home after the log cabin was across from the Presbyterian Church in Ponoka, but in 1916 Andy moved his growing family to a big house on Donald Avenue, which would remain ‘home’ until Nina’s death in 1957. Other Reid property around town included where the new south bridge and overpass was later built as well as another quarter section in the same area.

Sadness came to the Reid household in 1919 with the death of his wife Anna, and Andy had to take on the responsibility of seven children ages six months to 16 years, as well as facing the burden of the post war years where business was unstable and credit deadly. But like so many other gritty pioneer families from the town and districts their strong will would prevail, and then in 1922 Andy would wed Jonina Goodman, a teacher and former protégé of the Ponoka High School. In 1925 after 22 years of faithful service and success in business Andy Reid would sell his popular general mercantile business to the UFA Co-operative Association. Several years later he became the police magistrate and later Judge of the Juvenile Court, and in this capacity he would always remain as a trustworthy friend to all until his death in 1943.

The very active family of Andy and Anna and later Jonina Reid consisted of four sons and seven daughters including: Ambrose, George, Elizabeth (Lysne), Gladys (Norrison), Norman, Donald, Margery (Beaton), Wilma (Rix), Dorothy (Dobi), Shirley (Waines), and Jean (Egger). Like their congenial and dedicated father before them they enjoyed their life in Ponoka, but eventually wandered away from home to seek their fame and fortune but always loved to return to share the countless memories of family and friends.

Just Posted

Ponoka church hosts community summer sports series

Basketball and volleyball brings Filipino families together as part of a summer sports series.

Red Deer Lake residents have seen water levels drop steadily

AEP study shows levels on straight line decline for 40 years, investigation will continue

Ponoka high school students fundraise for women’s shelter

Creating awareness for #MMIW Ponoka Secondary Campus students hosted a bake sale

Maskwacis and feds sign historic education agreement

The Maskwacis Education School Commission signed an agreement setting the stage for their education

Ponoka Christian School among group suing province

Group suing Alberta over Bill 24, the act supporting gay/straight alliances

VIDEO: Canadians rise for early-morning Royal wedding celebrations

Canadians gathered for early-morning broadcast of marriage between Meghan Markle, Prince Harry

Singh sides with B.C. in hornet’s nest of pipeline politics for the NDP

Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal

30 cm of snow expected for eastern Canada, in May

It might be hot in Alberta, but some of Canada still dealing with cold

Horgan defends fight to both retain and restrict Alberta oil imports

Alberta says pipeline bottlenecks are kneecapping the industry, costing millions of dollars a day

Judge: President Trump can’t block critics on Twitter

The judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics

No suitors emerge for pipeline project stake as Kinder Morgan deadline looms

Analysts and observers remain perplexed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s comment last week that “plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project”.

Energy wells plugged as Hawaii’s volcano sends lava nearby

A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation in Hawaii

Trump seethes over Russia probe, calls for end to ‘SPYGATE’

“SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” Trump said on Twitter

Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

Literary agent Andrew Wylie said Roth died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure.

Most Read