Among the first settlers of the Ponoka district were the Reid Brothers…. William, Andrew, Joseph and David; and the countless decades of their family involvement in the growth and success of both the Town and County are somewhat of a proud tradition.
William arrived in 1893 and took up land four miles northwest of the town site, and would later marry Miss Emma Tyner of Ferrybank and move to British Columbia. In 1895, Andrew Reid filed a homestead one mile west of Ponoka and married Anna A. Larsen in 1900. Following Anna’s death in 1919, he later married Miss Jonina L. Goodwin and embarked on a long and illustrious career in the community. Joseph and David Reid arrived in this district in 1898, with Joseph settling on land five miles northwest of town and marrying Mary C. Jensen in 1903, while David would move on to Oregon two years later.
Andy Reid became a respected and untiring community leader.
Andrew Reid was born in Keady, Armagh, Ireland, then as a young man spent several years in Liverpool working as a streetcar conductor. A severe bout of typhoid fever and a long convalescence would force him to seek new adventures in America in 1892, travelling with his younger sister Rachel to the home of another sister Lizzie in Oregon. Always in search of a new challenge Andy moved on to Port Angeles, where he built a lot, built a house and ate lots of clams.
Finding profitable work very hard to come by in the United States he decided to follow his brother Will, who some time previously had ridden his horse ‘Buck’ from Oregon to Ponoka, Alberta, Canada. Andrew arrived in the new settlement in 1895, and lost no time in filing on land one mile to the west on the quarter section where the Ponoka Cemetery is now located, and not too far from his brother Will’s homestead. The brothers soon had a log cabin erected on each of the quarters, sharing living quarters together on one quarter for six months, and on the other homestead for the rest of the year. They were extremely hardworking gentleman, and would proudly become the first homesteaders in the area to obtain the title rights to their land.
At the time of Andrew Reid’s arrival the only building in the Village of Ponoka was the Railway depot, the Post Office being located just five miles north at Hollbrock to serve the handful of settlers who had moved into the area to establish new homes in the rugged but bountiful wilderness. Like many of the other homesteaders, Andy initially depended on work with the Canadian Pacific Railway, which had just completed lying what would be the very busy main line between Edmonton and Calgary. Quite often one brother would work on the railway section gang while the others carried on with the working of the homestead land.
Upon his arrival here Andy had fallen heir to Will’s faithful pony Buck, and during their leisure time the fellows would explore the countryside on their horses; stopping to pick up the mail, sometimes lending a hand to their neighbours, but quite often just for a hearty visit to share good old Irish stories, fun and lots of laughter. As legend has it, in later days Will’s pony seemed to prefer the west ride, while Buck headed across the Battle River ford to the Fort Ostell area. Little was said about these lonely excursions, in true Reid fashion, but in 1899 Will and Emma Tyner from Ferrybank were married, then in 1900 Andrew and Anna Larsen were joined in holy matrimony.
With the continued influx of settlers into the area, the needs of the community grew, and Andy would always be a willing helper in many worthwhile tasks. In 1895, he became the first Secretary of the Ponoka Presbyterian Church, and then joined others to give generously of time and energy to complete the first log church in 1896, and Andrew would carry on that faithful dedication for the rest of his life. By 1900 Ponoka had grown into a busy village, and that same year, by chance, Andy Reid became a merchant rather than a farmer. He was asked to assist in one of the few local stores, the Ponoka Branch of the Lacombe Co-operative Store, later worked for Fred Lee and Bill Kennedy, then decided to go into business for himself and bought the Railway street building and stock from Henry Dick in 1903.
In next week’s Ponoka News Reflections we will complete the colourful story of the diminutive Andy Reid, one of the true icons in the proud history, growth, and success of our community.