Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cecil Thompson - for whom a park is named.

(Sources: Peace River Remembers; Turning the Pages of Time, a History of Nampa and Surrounding District;; Mosquitoes, Muskegs and Memories, a History of Wesley Creek and Three Creeks)

By Beth Wilkins,

A man who came to Alberta from Nova Scotia on a Harvest Excursion in 1926 liked it so well, he stayed. That man, Cecil Vicars Thompson, raised on a farm near Fort Lawrence, an archeological site on the side of the Missaguash River brought with him the farm knowledge he learned on the family farm, as well as the that which he picked up from graduating in the first class of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.


Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre 2009.014.418 – Cecil Vicars Thompson standing with the Peace River in the background. Although his health is failing, he looks fit. The park in Northern Sunrise County near the County offices bearing his name is stocked with fish and entices ducks to visit.
A duck exercises on the fish-stocked pond at the Cecil Thompson Park adjacent to Northern Sunrise County buildings.

On his arrival in Alberta, he worked for George Craddock at Carbon, a village 41km west of Drumheller. When that work was done, he worked on building roads and playing semi-pro baseball and hockey. It was while doing this, he “grew to love to love Alberta”, according to daughter Ann Wood.

The same George Craddock from Carbon bought property between Nampa and Peace River in the Rosedale District of Northern Sunrise County, which has come through a couple of name changes since then. Cecil later bought the farm from George, but in those days as today, it was usually necessary to supplement one’s income. This, he did by hauling wood to town.

Eventually, the Thompson farm became a mixed farm – cattle, grain and clover seed were raised. Horses were a work necessity and Cecil took pride in his animals – horses and beef cattle. He also had dairy cattle from which he supplied the U. S. Army in 1942, when they were camped in the Jack Pine area while working on the CANOL Project (pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse with Peace River the starting point of a temporary highway into the North). “Each morning, a huge truck would arrive at the farm, and drivers would come in for coffee. Many of these fellows were from the Deep South and found the winter here very cold, indeed,” writes Ann.

The Thompsons, Martha and Cecil, continued to produce milk during the next few years, delivering to the hospital and the Victory Hotel, as well as the Northern Alberta Dairy Producers (N.A.D.P.)

Cecil didn’t stay stationary too long. He bought cattle throughout the country, sometimes accompanied by Jim Millar from Judah and sometimes by Henry Jerry, owner of Peace River Meat Co. There were times when Henry couldn’t get away that Cecil did his buying for him.

Cecil was not all work and no play. Certainly not. Play was a large part of his life. Sports of all kinds were an attraction, including hunting and fishing, but especially baseball and hockey. In 1953, he was manager of the local baseball team. That was the same year, he sold the farm to the Companion Society from Quebec – a co-operative group of farmers, who settled here. They started out with the Thompson and Joe Walker farms and expanded to include the surrounding area, which evolved into the hamlet of St. Isidore.

Cecil’s health failed over the years, so once the farm was sold, he and Martha moved to their summer home in Peace River – on the corner of 101 Street and 104 Avenue. Winters were spent in southern California.

Cecil died February 24, 1969.

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