The Women of Aspenland


 The Wetaskiwin & District Heritage Museum will be inducting four women into their Women of Aspenland exhibit as part of the annual program honouring women on Saturday, October 20th at 2:00 pm.  In keeping with this year's exhibit and event theme, “Entertainment,” those being inducted into the Women of Aspenland exhibit are noted for their contributions in the field of entertainment.

 

CECELIA ROSE (LILLY) ENMAN
 During the 1920s and 1930s, the Enman School of Dancing and Expression, and the Enman Players, prepared the local young people to entertain the community in the areas of dance and drama.  These schools put on the first major productions on a continuing basis in the young City of Wetaskiwin.  The lessons were held in the basement of the Enman Stationery and Book Store, while the programs were presented in the Angus/Audien Theatre.  The instructor was Cecelia Enman.
 Cecelia Lilly came from Illinois to visit her cousins, Pete and Christina Peterson in the Angus Ridge District, in 1909.  She stayed to teach school for a year and to marry Charles Enman in 1910.  When she was married, Cecelia was 26 years of age, so she came to Wetaskiwin with meaningful experience teaching school and expertise in teaching both dance and drama.  She was known for being prim and proper, always dignified, always poised.  The precision which her students display in pictures from the dance revues bear evidence of her concern that everything be just right. 
 Charles Enman had come to Wetaskiwin from P.E.I. in 1902, and established a dairy farm with Jersey cows which supplied the City of Wetaskiwin with milk, as well as having the stationery and book store.  Cecelia and Charles raised three children, Dan, John Robert, and Marion.  In an age before antibiotics when nearly every family lost an infant, both their oldest, Peter, and youngest, Ruth, died of pneumonia when very young.  Dan carried on with the farm and John Robert became a doctor.  Cecelia wanted all of her children to be proficient in dance and drama, so was proud of Marion when she danced with the Sally Rand Dancers for the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. 

 

EFFIE JEAN (GEORGE) ROPER
 Jean George was the member of her family who most used her considerable talent and ability to instruct young people in music and dance.  She was the third of four George children who were all very talented and presented their own concerts to the public while still quite young.  While in Wetaskiwin High School, Jean played the piano for the WHS Orchestra, and danced and did acrobatics for WHS Literary Society Programs.  It is probable that Mrs. Anna Condie taught her piano and violin..  A graduate of the Pimlott School of Dance in Edmonton as well as having taken skating lessons at the Glenora Skating and Tennis Club in Edmonton, Jean taught  Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Ballroom dancing.  While still in high school, with her younger brother, Robert, as her assistant and dance partner, she opened the George School of Dance.  In time, The George School of Dance held classes in Lacombe and Ponoka as well as Wetaskiwin.  The museum displays pictures of Jean and Robert as youthful dance partners in full Scottish regalia, and as young adults in formal attire as ballroom dance partners.  The family were also gifted singers, and Jean sang with the United Church Choir.
 Jeans father, Franklin Bryden George, was a stationmaster at Lacombe during the years when the children were born, but the family moved to Wetaskiwin before Jean was in high school.  In 1942, Jean married Henry Basil Roper and moved onto his farm at Bittern Lake where they bred and raised Herefords.  Jean and Henry had no children of their own, but cherished their nieces and nephews who have many happy memories of the farm.

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