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Ag Society News

Post Offices From the Past

Featuring: Kleskun Hill

By Wanda Zenner

Kleskun Hill is an unincorporated locality in Northwest Alberta within the County of Grande Prairie No. 1. It is located approximately 20 kms north-east of Grande Prairie on Highway 43 close to Bezanson. Kleskun Hill Park protects some of Alberta’s most northern badlands, wapiti rock formations, wildflowers and the last surviving native grasslands in the Grande Prairie Region. Within the Park, sits the Kleskun Hill Museum.

Truman & Hubert Manning – Acting Postmasters
(no record of formal appointment therefore dates unknown)
Hubert and Truman Manning, originally from Ontario, had been living in Saskatchewan when they decided to move to the Peace River District. They traveled by the Athabasca Trail in 1911 and Hubert filed a homestead application and Truman purchased 640 acres by means of South African Scrip on land in the Kleskun Hill area. It is written that the Mannings operated the Post Office in their residence on behalf of James Brims who had been appointed as the official Postmaster.

Manning house, built in 1914, at original location SE 16-72-4-W6
Manning House located at Kleskun Hill Museum.

It was interesting to note that the Manning’s had ploughed two furrows from Crystal Creek to the Smoky River that eventually became Highway 43.

The Manning house was donated to the Kleskun Hill Museum by Elvin and Tillie Gordon. It has been completely restored and contains a “Mail Slot Box” that may or may not be original.

Kleskun Hill Museum

James Alexander Brims – Postmaster 1913 – 1915
The Kleskun Hill Post Office was established on May 15, 1913 with James Brims being appointed as “Postmaster”. James was originally from Scotland and arrived in the Peace River District in 1910 and subsequently filed a homestead application on SE 17-72-4-W6. He was on the land in March 1912. As he had served in the British army in the South African War and was still a reservist, he went back to England to once again join the British army when WWI commenced. It is assumed that in his absence, he had the Manning Brothers provide Postal Services for Kleskun Hill at the Manning residence.
Mr. Brims resigned on August 29, 1915.
After the war, James moved to Arizona due to his health. He married Alison Dick Cullen in Phoenix on September 14, 1921. They had one son. James passed away in Phoenix in 1951.

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Written by Wanda Zenner September 2020

Glen Leslie is an unincorporated locality in Northwest Alberta within the County of Grande Prairie No. 1. It is approximately 20 km east of Grande Prairie on Highway 670. The area is known for the Glen Leslie Church which was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource and the Glen Leslie Cemetery.

Thomas Leslie – Postmaster 1914-1919

Thomas & Margaret Leslie and their 3 adult sons; Norman, Ed & Bruce, left Roslin, Ontario and arrived at Grande Prairie and filed homestead applications on land east of the town. They filed in such close proximity to each other that the area became known as “The Glen of the Leslie’s” which was later shortened to “Glen Leslie”.

A large two story log home was built on the Norman’s homestead (NW 25-72- 4-W6) and Thomas and Margaret also moved into the house. The home was on the Bezanson Townsite to Grande Prairie Trail and became a stopping place for many travelers. On July 1, 1914 a Post Office was established in Norman’s house and named “Glen Leslie”. Thomas Leslie was appointed Postmaster. He resigned on January 13, 1919.

Norman Leslie home that housed the Glen Leslie Post Office 1914-1921

In February 1920, Thomas and Margaret decided to move back to the farm in Queensborough, Ontario. Thomas passed away in 1941 and Margaret in 1960. Both are buried in the Queensborough Cemetery.

Norman Leslie – Postmaster 1920-1921

Norman had enlisted in the Army in 1915 and was wounded and returned home in 1919. On June 30, 1920, Norman was appointed Postmaster – a position he kept until February 22, 1921 at which time he moved his family to Dimsdale to operate a store and Post Office. The Leslie’s later retired to Grande Prairie. Norman passed away in 1972 and Gladys in 1983. Both are buried at the Glen Leslie Cemetery.

Minnie Bryenton – Postmaster 1922-1928

Ken Morrison, who owned a store at the Bezanson Townsite, decided to dismantle the building and use the material to build a store on property (NW 36-71-4-W6) owned by his daughter and son-in-law, Dorothy and Ed Leslie. His sister-in-law, Minnie Bryenton was appointed Postmaster on July 28, 1922. Minnie decided to move to Calgary and resigned on March 22, 1928. Minnie, who had married Sam Turner, passed away in 1946 and is buried at the Glen Leslie Cemetery.

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The Bezanson Curling Rink – Bringing Together Our Community Since 1962

By Kiera Donner

In 1962, family, friends, and neighbours gathered in the hamlet of Bezanson to volunteer and build the curling rink that is still standing today.  The hard workers harvested lumber from the surrounding woods and sent it into a local sawmill to begin building the project they envisioned.  The entire community worked together to raise enough money to build the rink.  Through cash donations alone, they were able to raise $649.50!  Someone even donated a record player which was raffled off allowing for $371.00 to go towards the construction of the rink.  

Twenty-one years later the kitchen and benches for supporters and other teams were installed which was an excellent addition to the rink.  Over the years, the rink has undergone many renovations.

It has been a hotspot for this community where members of Bezanson and the surrounding rural communities have been able to come together and play a sport which all ages love.  The Curling Committee even put together an after-school program for the junior high students of Bezanson around 1967 which made the rink social and educational.  The kids were sent home with notes which read that curling would start at 3:45pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  The committee kept all twenty-five notes of the students’ names and parents’ signature providing us with historical records of the educational use of the facility.  Journals dating back to about 1981 of every bonspiel and meeting ever held were preserved making great memories of this written history. The note books include details of what was said in the meetings, people that have won trophies for bonspiels and other achievements, and includes all the costs they have spent that has brought the rink to where it is today.

The curling rink was another foundation to this great community that has been built on teamwork. The rink brought the community together and we are grateful for the hard work of the volunteers for the opportunities that the curling rink brought to our community.

NEW VIDEO on Bezanson Community Group!

The Bezanson Community Group is a collection of all the different groups that work hard to bring the community of Bezanson a wide variety of facilities, services, resources, and activities. Watch this video to see how to stay up to date on community news and learn more about all the groups involved.

Meet our Connections Coordinator Haley Friesen

The Bezanson Ag Society recently received Emergency Community Support Funding delivered by the Community Foundations of Canada along with the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta to hire a Connection Coordinator.  This position is to help identify local needs and launch opportunities meeting the needs surfacing in this rural area. 

The Ag Society welcomes Haley Friesen, this Bezanson born and raised university student, to this position.  Haley is entering her third year of studies at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC this fall, working towards her Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry.  In the long term, Haley plans to go to medical school.

The Connection Coordinator position focuses on the community of Bezanson. The Bezanson Community Centre wants to meet the mental, physical, and social needs of community members, and Haley is the liaison for that connection.   The sowing of positive connections will reap health and vitality and sustain individuals, families, and the community.

Haley’s favorite quote:  You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. (C.S. Lewis).