When Leduc residents dealt with the AMA in the early 1900’s they were not getting car or house insurance or looking for roadside assistance. Neither were they seeking medical advice from a medical association. What they were doing was going to Adam Mcllroy Anderson’s general store.
Anderson’s early ancestors had come from Ireland long before he was born in 1857. Adam grew up in Owen Sound, Ontario and when he was 15 he was employed in a general store. He was able to invest his earnings and by the time he married Allie Wilkie, in 1880, he owned his own store.
Somewhere around the turn of the century Adam heard the call of the west. By this time he had become a very successful businessman and Owen Sound’s mayor and town council published in the local paper their regrets in seeing the family leave their community.
In late 1902 the A.M. Anderson store was open for business. It later became known as the Alberta Mercantile Company and had expanded to handle grain and produce as well as clothing and groceries. Eventually a number of other businesses were added to the building and it became known as the Anderson Block.
The Anderson’s had three children and all made a contribution to the development of Leduc. Britton became one of Leduc’s first teachers and would later serve in World War I. Their daughter Ethel was one of the community’s first music teachers providing lessons in her father’s building. Their youngest son Frank worked in the store but unfortunately died at the early age of 28.
As popular as Anderson and his store was to the citizens of Leduc it seemed that Anderson’s personal life was filled with tragedy. It began in 1908 when his son Britton lost his wife Cora. Cora was an excellent singer with a bright future when she came down with an illness that ended her life. Four years later in 1912 his beloved wife Allie died at the age of 56. In 1918 his oldest son returned from World War I. It is said that parents should not have to out live their children but Adam Anderson had to bury two of his children as Britton died in 1923 and his youngest son Frank died the following year in 1924. Only Ethel would out live her father as he died in 1932 at the age of 75.
The Andersons had a positive impact on Leduc and we can still see the results of their efforts every time we walk or shop downtown. The Anderson Block remains and has been identified by the city as a historical structure worthily of recognition as one of the buildings that helped shape the character of the city. The building is a tribute to the Andersons who came west like so many others to seek a better future for themselves and their family.