When Ted Okkerse founded his newspaper he wanted a name that captured the imagination and spirit of the area. It was to be a paper that served many communities throughout central Alberta and the name had to represent the area. Since the Pipestone Creek begins east of Pigeon Lake and flows into the Battle River running through Millet it unified the proposed paper’s distribution area and became part of the paper’s name.
As to the Flyer aspect of the paper, much of the area’s development can be attributed to the railroad and the American Flyer locomotive was Ted’s favorite railroad engine. Thus the Pipestone Flyer newspaper was born giving recognition to a geographic feature that ran through the center of the distribution area and recognition to the railroad that was responsible for the area’s growth.
No one seems to know how Pipestone got its name but if you go west of Millet you will come across the community of Pipestone and its sister Patience. A Mr. A.L. Dickens established the first post office in the area and called it Patience. He claimed that it took all the patience a man had to haul the mail and groceries, for his store, from Millet. The main reason that patience was required to transport goods was that there were no roads only trails that meandered through various homesteads. The trail was filled with bushes, stumps, and fallen trees and required over 20 stops to open and close gates. Mr. Dickens was also the first chairman of the Pipestone School District #882 school board.
In 1905 residents had received a certificate to establish a school and by May 1906 they celebrated the completion of the school building along the Pipestone Creek. Now they needed a teacher. Miss Ora Densmore had come from Nova Scotia in 1904 and began teaching at Great West School when she heard about the beauty of Pigeon Lake. She moved in 1905 to Conjuring Creek School and then jumped at the opportunity to teach at Pipestone. Pipestone would become the first school west of Millet. Miss Densmore opened it on October 30, 1906 and taught for the next six months. In April of 1907 she would then teach at the new Bonnie Glen School for the next six months. It was something she would do for two years. Ora was quite an accomplished horsewomen and would ride her horse to the school. She also had a knack at speculation as she bought and sold land during this time. In 1908 she became Mrs. Victor Scott and moved, for a time, to Bawlf before returning to the Wetaskiwin area where they would spend the rest of their lives. They would have a daughter, Ora May, in December 1909. After a long successful life Mrs. Scott died in 1970 at the age of 85.
Victor’s parents arrived from Ontario in 1903 and were one of the first to homestead about 18 miles southwest of Millet. It would take them three days to haul the two carloads of household goods from Millet to their homestead using four horses. They would settle one mile south and a half-mile west of the current Pipestone Store. Ora’s first year at Pipestone was one of the worst winters in recorded history with deep snow and severe cold. She was able to organize the school’s talented students and began a tradition of excellent school concerts, which people would come from long distances in sleighs to hear the concerts and drama productions. It would become a tradition, which would be reinforced when Mr. Edward Schonehals arrived in 1937.
During the spring of 1907 roads began to be developed and by 1910 many of them had been graveled and travel throughout the area had improved. The Pipestone Store evolved and in 1936 the Pipestone Mercantile would be the first standalone store to be built in the district. Today the store includes a café and a hair salon is located nearby.
Thirty years would pass until another teacher well-skilled in music would arrive in 1937 in the person of Edward Schonehals. He was hired for a grand total of $650 per year and believed that school was more than the 3 R’s and began to teach guitar lessons during his spare time. This soon expanded to the clarinet and then the other brass instruments were added. For those that had difficulty with music Mr. Schonehals taught boxing and then put on boxing matches for special events and these in turn progressed to boxing tournaments that raised money used to purchase Christmas treats for the students.
In 1945 he returned to the United States, married, and began a career in the hotel business in Redding, California. He left a legacy of music, which many students carried with them for the rest of their lives. He was one of the first to realize the importance of a green environment as he arranged for the planting of spruce trees around the community centre and various shrubs and flowers. It is a tradition that continues to this day. Over the years the school has adjusted to the demands of its students and community. Today a modern school sits on the original site and welcomes students from ECS to Grade Six.
When Ted Okkerse named his newspaper he wanted a name that expressed the geography of the paper’s coverage and may have not been aware that there was a vibrant community with a proud history and a school that united the area. Or perhaps he did! What he didn’t know was that all roads lead to Pipestone.
Source: Roads to Pipestone copyright 1970 http://www.ourroots.ca/e/toc.aspx?id=1162