by Craig Baird
For The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer
As the 20th century began to loom large on the horizon, Wetaskiwin continued to grow as a small prairie community. Many accommodations were built leading up to 1900 including the Queens Hotel, which was little more than a pair of houses put together, as well as the Walker House, which was a small but busy bar and hotel.
The most outstanding building in town though was the Driard Hotel, described by its owner as being “the most comfortable house on the C & E Line”. There was also the Alberta Hotel and the Scandinavian Hotel, all providing places for people to stay as they arrived in the community.
One of those new immigrants was Anthony Sigwart de Rosenroll. He came from Italy and travelled through Australia, New Zealand and the United States before arriving in Wetaskiwin with his wife Ida Eberhard.
He quickly got down to work and established the Wetaskiwin Creamery, which was then taken over by the Dominion Government in June of 1897. That year, the creamery produced 342,980 pounds of milk and 17,691 pounds of butter.
The first elevator was opened around this time as well, owned by Blackman and Ker Company, managed by Tom Toreson.
The Free Lance, a new and vigorous newspaper started up in Wetaskiwin, and the Wetaskiwin Drug Store opened with John Walker running the business and selling Barnes’ Perfect Cough Syrup.
Going back to Anthony Rosenroll, he found himself elected to the North West Territories legislature in 1898, after serving as the Justice of the Peace in 1896 and a notary public in 1897, the same year he created the Rosenroll Lumber Company.
The first Wetaskiwin Fair was held in October of 1898, run by a group led by A. Waterston.
Fire erupted in the community in 1898 when the Frank Lucas family lost everything they owned, and their farm house, in a horrible fire. They were forced to live in a small log house until their home was rebuilt.
Hugh John Montgomery arrived in Wetaskiwin in 1889 at the age of 22 from Prince Edward Island. He was going to work with his uncle, a local bookkeeper and he quickly became a popular man in the community. He would eventually become the mayor of the community.
Money was tight in the community in 1899 but things improved by years end as a wheat boom began to happen. The Merchants Bank of Canada would exemplify this changing landscape of prosperity when they opened a branch in the community as Wetaskiwin began to enter the 20th century.
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Information for this article comes from Siding 16.