The November 25, 1954 issue of the Herald-Tribune reported:
“Hundred Willing Hands Pitch in to Build House for Widow”
“A hundred willing unpaid hands this week are pushing a home towards completion for the widowed mother of four, in the north end of Grande Prairie.
This is the second time in the past few weeks, that the West Smoky Legion has pitched in to help Mrs. Archie Delaney whose husband was killed in a tractor accident on his Bezanson District farm last summer. Earlier, the group organized a plowing bee of nearly two dozen tractors to complete fall work on the farm.
This new home for which initial plans were made by Alvin Delaney and half-brother, Clarence Boyer, soon stirred the co-operative instincts of the West Smoky group.
Earlier this fall, twenty men showed up for the pouring of the foundation. Since the structure got underway late last week there has been a crew of from eight to ten volunteers every day – a different set each day with
the exception of Harry Laye, a Grande Prairie carpenter, who is supervising the job and Alvin Delaney.
Though the project was adopted by the Legion, it has spread throughout the district to take in almost everyone in the Bezanson area – and beyond it.
John Hall, of Wanham, an old army buddy of the late Mr. Delaney and a one-time electrician has volunteered to do the wiring. Rev. M. Fowler, Sexsmith United Church minister and former roof-layer by trade, had undertaken to do all the roofing.
There have been dozens of unsolicited offers of help. Need for the new home centered around the four Delaney children. Ranging in age from four to eight, three of them are in school and had to take the bus in from the farm. This cost money and Mrs. Delaney thought she’d be better off to rent the farm and move into town.
Starting with only a basement last Friday, by noon Wednesday the house, 22” x 26’ with four rooms, bath and two porches, has taken on the appearance of a near-complete structure.
All studding was up and outside walls sheathed. Subfloors had been laid, roofing was nearing completion. Mainly only the inside work remained. If the weather holds, the home will be stuccoed this fall.”
Archie, born on February 24, 1914 at Blezard Valley, Nipissing District, Ontario, was the 2nd youngest in John and Alberta (Bertha) Delaney’s family of seven children. Shortly after John’s death in 1918, Bertha and the children moved to Grande Prairie. She married Isaac Boyer and the family settled on Isaac’s homestead in the Kleskun Hills area. The Boyer’s had four children, Clarence, Ruth, Raymond and Harry.
In 1940, Archie enlisted with the Royal Canadian Army. Following basic training, Archie sailed for England where he became attached to the Canadian Army Headquarters, Royal Canadian Signal Corp. While in Holland, Archie met a nurse, Aagtje (Alice) Renkema whom he married on November 30, 1945. Archie was discharged on demobilization and returned home to the family farm in the spring of 1946. A daughter, June Alice, was born on
May 19, 1946 in Holland after Archie had sailed for home. In the fall of the same year, Alice and baby June finally arrived in Grande Prairie.
The Delaney’s lived in various locations in the East Kleskun area until they bought the SE 13-72-4-W6. In 1947, twins, Eveline and Irene, were born followed by a son, Ray in 1949. A few years later, Archie purchased NW 13-72-4-W6 from Jim Storm and now had a sizeable farm to operate. On August 11, 1954, Archie had a tractor accident near Kleskun Hills and died of his injuries six days later. The funeral service was held at the Glen Leslie Church followed by interment in the Glen Leslie Cemetery.
Alice realized that she would not be able to operate the farm herself and decided to move the family to Grande Prairie where she could once again engage in her nursing profession. Once the news of her decision became known, the members of the Legion with the assistance of family members and neighbors built a house in Grande Prairie for Alice and her children and the family moved in just before Christmas 1955. Once settled in the new home, Alice had to upgrade her training to become accredited in Alberta; following which; she continued to work as a nurse at the QEII until she retired in 1976. She married William Balmer on December 22, 1972 in Grande Prairie. Alice passed away on March 10, 2000 and was laid to rest alongside Archie at the Glen Leslie Cemetery.
A true testament to the “Purposes and Objects” of the Royal Canadian Legion – one of which is “to ensure that proper attention shall be paid to the welfare of all who have served and the welfare of their dependents . . . .”
Smoky to Grande Prairie History Book
Delaney/Boyer Family History Book
Note: original article states “East Smoky Legion” however as the area was often referred to as the “East End” that is probably where the discrepancy came from as it was the West Smoky Legion who initiated the project. The East Smoky Legion which covers the DeBolt area may have assisted in the building project as well.
Written by Wanda Zenner April 2020