Tyne & Nicole Gardiner

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If you want to know about Red Deer history – just ask an archivist. The Red Deer & District Archives is the official repository for city records of all kinds and it’s where inquisitive citizens research Red Deer’s historic places, trailblazing pioneers, community happenings, even famous runaway piggies and 100-year-old candy recipes. We asked our local history experts five curious questions about Red Deer’s colourful past and here are their five fascinating answers.


Q. Who was Red Deer’s most notorious person?

A. While there are many colourful characters in Red Deer, one of the most notorious was Louis Martin Sage, founder of Cash City southwest of Red Deer in the late 1880s. To promote his site for settlement and investment, Sage published many tall tales in The Calgary Tribune, each emphasizing that his site was better than the one at the “lower crossing” (Red Deer).


Due to his poor management skills and bad relations with his neighbours including the Alberta Lumber Company, the settlement failed miserably. Sage then became involved in several liveries, a shipping company, and a few other businesses but they collapsed any time creditors came to collect. This led to troubles with the legal system.

In 1893, he was arrested on a charge of larceny in Calgary (dismissed), in 1894 on attempted murder charges in Red Deer (reduced to grievous assault), and again in 1894 for using insulting language to a woman and swearing on the highway outside Innisfail.


Despite his remarkably poor business sense and his arrest record, he continued to be involved in the livery business in Red Deer and area off and on for many years, and he even raced horses around British Columbia and the United States. He died without family and was buried in Innisfail cemetery in an unmarked grave.

The story of Cash City is recorded in Homesteads That Nurtured A City, one of our library books—we host a small reference library including books from the Red Deer branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society. We also have many records from the author, E. L. Meeres, including his research notes, which are available to the public.

Q. Who was Red Deer’s most respectable person?


A. There are so many great contributors that we can’t choose one to be the most respectable; however, one of our favourites here is Ethel Taylor. She was exceptionally active in Red Deer, founding the Red Deer Women’s Institute, Red Deer Local Council of Women, Hospital Auxiliary, Alberta Council on Aging, Kindergarten Society, Film Society, Allied Arts Council, Craft Centre, Social Welfare Committee, Social Planning Council, Family Service Bureau, Indian Association of Alberta and Indian-Eskimo Association. In 1961, she was elected the first female alderman for the City of Red Deer and in 1979 Taylor Drive and Taylor Bridge was named in her honour. We have a large fonds – a collection of documents and photos created by Ethel Taylor – here which is available for researchers who want to know more about her or about the groups she started. Photo right. Photo credit: Red Deer & District Archives, P413 – Ethel Taylor as a young woman.

Q. What is the city’s oldest building?

A. There are two answers to this question. The oldest building still on its original site is the Brumpton Store. It was built in 1892 and is located at 5003 Ross St. The oldest building still standing in Red Deer is the Stevenson Hall Block. It was originally built for the Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Company and is the small white building currently located in Heritage Square between the Archives, the Recreation Centre, and the Norwegian Laft Hus. Photo left. Photo credit: Red Deer & District Archives, P3835 has both Stevenson Hall Block (the white building) and Brumpton Store visible in background.

Q. What’s your favourite artifact or photo in the archives?

A. We have over 7,000 digitized images here, and over 100,000 altogether to choose from so I think this question is impossible to answer! One of our favourites, however, is this image of Red Cross nurses from the First World War. Their bright, crisp uniforms – combined with the patriotic flags and the new car in the background helps show the story of nursing a century ago. This year is the centennial of the start of the First World War and we are highlighting some of our documents and images in exhibits at the Archives and on the second floor of City Hall downtown, if you want to learn more. Photo below. Photo credit: Red Deer & District Archives, P2129 – Nurses in First World War.


Q. What would be your first stop on a historical tour of Red Deer?

A. We recommend everyone start by picking up the Heritage Walking Tour brochures and use them to guide you through historic Red Deer. There are now four to choose from: The Ghost Collection, Saturday in the City, First Impressions of Red Deer and the War Memorials Tour. These are available all around town, including at the Archives and at Tourism Red Deer, as well as online at reddeer.ca/heritage.



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For 28 years, Glenn Simon and his wife Jessie have run Glenn’s Family Restaurant on Red Deer’s Gasoline Alley – the popular food and fuel stop for 40,000 cars that drive the QEII every day. You’ll know Glenn’s as soon as you see by the really big teapot up on top – an homage to his dad’s café and a sign of what you’ll find inside (spoiler: more than 200 kinds of loose tea!). You’ll also find consistently great food, a teapot shop and lots of locals. We asked Glenn five questions about tea, his restaurant and his city.




We carry 220 kinds of loose-leaf tea by the Metropolitan Tea Company – a Canadian Company out of Don Mills. The teas come from around the world, are all-natural and contain no preservatives. We serve them all in the restaurant – along with a teapot-shaped tea-infused cookie – and also sell them in tins for home. We have a “sniffer wall” where customers can smell them all and my sister Cindy runs a boutique next door with a collection of 400 teapots from all over the world.


We have black tea – which is fully fermented, green tea – which is only partially fermented, Oolong, Rooibos, white tea and herbal teas – made from fruits or bark. There’s a book at every table all about tea with lots of information and stories.




All the green teas have lots of antioxidants and are very popular – Rooibos is a South African red bush tea made from cedar trees whose needles turn bright red when dried. It’s caffeine-free, packed with antioxidants and makes a great iced tea because it gets richer the longer it steeps. Our Provence tea is also very popular – made with lavender, rosehips and black currants.




I like the Provence and Long Island strawberry green tea.




My wife Jessie and I have had a restaurant for 35 years and have been in this building for 28. My dad had Cy’s Koffee House on the highway in the late 60s and used a teapot logo – I kept the idea for our big teapot from him. We also have a waitress and a cook that have been with us almost that whole time.




We spend a lot of time at Birch Bay on Gull Lake where we have a cabin. We have seven grandchildren from ages 5 to 18 and they love it there – swimming in the summer and playing hockey on the ice all winter long.


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The Red Deer River anchors recreational fishing in the Red Deer County and features quite a diversity of game fish: brown trout, goldeye, mountain whitefish, northern pike, sauger and walleye, with the occasional lake sturgeon as a bonus. With the exception of brown trout, which are a species that originated in Europe, all these species are native to the Red Deer River. The brown trout were stocked in the Red Deer River below Glennifer Reservoir by the provincial government dating back to 1932, with supplemental plantings of wild brown trout transplanted from the Bow River in 1992. They suffered a set back from devastating floods in 1995 and 2005 and are slowly recovering in numbers but are still a major draw because of their large 22 inch+ size. Trophy size brown trout of this size are rare in western Canada.

Two local fly-fishing operations provide guided float trips for trophy brown trout on the Red Deer River: Fly Fish Alberta and Tailwater Drifters. Generally, float trips take place above the City of Red Deer and below the Dickson Dam on Glennifer Reservoir in what’s called a “Tailwater” section noted for its stable flows. This section of the Red Deer River is a beautiful stretch of water in a very scenic, pastoral setting.

The Red Deer River has two major tributaries below Glennifer Reservoir: the Little Red Deer River and the Medicine River.

The Little Red Deer River is a popular destination for brown trout fishing, as well as brook trout and mountain whitefish, with the odd bull trout.

The mouth of the Medicine River at its confluence with the Red Deer River is popular for pike, walleye, sauger, brown trout and mountain whitefish.

There are a couple of key lakes in the area, Gull Lake and Sylvan Lake, both of which are popular destinations of provincial significance.

Gull Lake features excellent fishing for northern pike and walleye during the open water season while Lake Whitefish are the main draw during the ice fishing season and attract thousands of anglers annually; burbot and northern pike are also very popular hard-water target species, as well as yellow perch.

Pike, walleye, yellow perch and Lake Whitefish are the main drawing cards for Sylvan Lake. Sylvan Lake has grown in popularity in Alberta’s fishing circles during the last decade as a go-to lake for both walleye and Lake Whitefish.

Glennifer Reservoir doesn’t boast great fishing but offers up pike, walleye, mountain whitefish and the odd brown trout.

Pine Lake is another popular local lake, featuring a yellow perch fishery.

The Dickson Trout Pond (13-35-03-W5) and Waskasoo Park Pond (18-38-27-W4) at Heritage Ranch are stocked with rainbow trout on an annual basis. Other water bodies that have been stocked in the last 10 years include: Hugh Bower Pond last stocked with rainbow trout in 2005, Bennett’s Pond last stocked with rainbow trout in 2006, Crooked Creek last stocked with brown trout in 2002 and Schrader Creek last stocked with brown trout in 2004. Stocked lakes are popular with locals during all season of the year, and they provide a stable recreational base for locals in particular.

There’s a Chinese proverb “When there are no fish in one spot, cast your hook in another” which is a testament to the variety of opportunities in the Red Deer County.

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Howdy, partner!  If you’re looking for somewhere to “Cowboy Up”, Ponoka is the place to visit!  This town may be home to the Ponoka Stampede and the World’s Largest Bucking Saddle Bronc Horse and Rider, but there are many other things to see and do here.

Ponoka, which means “elk” in Blackfoot, is located at the junction of Highway 2A and Highway 53, only 59 kilometres north of Red Deer.


If you’re planning on visiting Ponoka, check out some of these local attractions:


Fort Ostell Museum

  • – Opens on Victoria Day long weekend until the Labor Day weekend in September
  • – Open Tuesday to Friday from 10 am until 5 pm and Sundays and Holiday Mondays from 1 pm until 5 pm
  • – Located at the north end of Centennial Park

The Museums name comes from the original Fort Ostell that was built near Ponoka during the Riel Rebellion in 1885.  The museum displays many local area pioneer and native artifacts and photos.  It is also home to the “Alberta Mental Hospital Museum” collection (collection of artifacts and archived material from 1911 to present day).


Ponoka Farmers Market

  • – Open from May to October
  • – Runs Wednesdays from 9 am until 1 pm at the Ponoka Arena

This local farmers market hosts over 85 vendors showcasing agricultural produce, homemade and home-baked goods, food, and entertainment.


Ponoka Stampede

  • – Runs the end of June / beginning of July to coincide with Canada Day weekend
  • – 7-day rodeo plays host to rodeo competitors and fans from across Canada, the US and even Australia!
  • – Features rodeo events, a midway, and other activities

The Ponoka Stampede is among the five largest rodeos worldwide for payouts.  It has been award with many awards including, but not limited to, the 2012 PRCA Remuda Award (given to the rodeo with the best and most consistent pen of horses), the 2013 CPRA Stock Contractor of the Year, and many more!



Ponoka offers something for everyone, from history to family fun to recreational activities.  Head out on Wolf Creek Trail for a day of nature, play a round of mini golf with the family, or check out one of the many local restaurants for a night out without the kids.  Come see why people love this town!



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