150 Okotokians Who Have Made a Difference I-P

In celebration of Canada's 150th birthday, the Okotoks Museum and Archives presents 150 Okotokians who have made a difference in our community -past or present. New people will be posted each week!

Do you have someone we should consider? Contact us online. 

Rob Irvine

Rob Irvine inspired students in and out of the classroom. Rob served as principal at Okotoks Junior High School in the 1980s and 90s, where he fostered a positive learning environment and helped shaped the lives of countless students. Students and staff described him as “good natured, full of fun,” “Teachers and students held him in the highest esteem because he treated all with respect and dignity,” and “He was my favourite teacher. He always had a way of making class fun and full of laughter.”

He also actively contributed to the community through his involvement with the Okotoks Rotary Club. Rob loved the sea and enjoyed sharing this passion with those around him.

Rob passed away in 2008. One of the gymnasiums at Okotoks Junior High School is named in his honour.

Mernie James

Mernie James helped put Okotoks on the map! Mernie and her husband Rodney established the Ginger Tea Room in Okotoks in 1985. The tea room was first located on Elizabeth Street and was immediately the talk of the town. In 1990 they relocated into the new, large Victorian-style teahouse which they built on Riverside Drive. More than 2,500 people attended the opening. The teahouse became known world-wide for its hospitality, charm and its unique menu, with Mernie proudly taking on the role as ‘Madame Ginger Tea Room.’ It hosted numerous special events including weddings, high teas and art shows. Coupled with a second floor gift shop and an array of fine art and collectibles, the Ginger Tea Room became both a dining and shopping destination. In just one year tourists from 28 countries signed the guest book. Mernie and Rodney retired and the teahouse closed in 2000. The property was later sold to the Okotoks United Church.

Mernie passed away in 2015.

Pat (Jensen) Jeffery

Pat (Jensen) Jeffery grew up on a farm west of Okotoks and is a nurse, athlete, and author. Pat clinched the Canadian luge championships in 1985 and had her sights set on competing at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, but a crash kept her from fulfilling her dream. She went on to become a luge official and has been twice recognized by the International Luge Federation for her contributions to the sport. After her luge career, Pat returned to nursing and became a flight nurse with STARS Air Ambulance logging well over 1,000 missions...and counting. Her commitment to critical care nursing has impacted thousands of lives. Pat is also a screenwriter and author. 

Margaret Johnson

Margaret (Teskey) Johnson devoted her life to children, teaching generations of families in the Okotoks District before she retired from teaching at the age of 81. She taught all grades in one-room schoolhouses at Pine Creek and Claresholm and then taught Grades 4 and 5 at Okotoks. After marrying Henry Johnson and raising a family of five children, Mrs. Johnson returned to teaching in 1948. Fro the next 25 years she taught kindergarten from her home on Elma Street at the foot of the Centre Avenue hill. Her kindness, patience, and compassion provided a welcoming introduction to learning to hundreds of young students. She retired in 1972 at the age of 81. Mrs. Johnson also taught Sunday School at the Okotoks United Church for many years, and during World War II welcomed servicemen, training at the DeWinton airport, into her home. 

She passed away in 1988 at the age of 97.

David Jones

David Jones served nine years on Okotoks Council, including two terms as a councillor from 1989 to 1995 and one term as mayor from 1995 to 1998. During his time on council, Okotoks saw incredible growth -- from a population of 6,020 people to close to 9,000 by 1998. He was instrumental in the establishment of Can-Oxy Park (now Riverside Park) which has become a well-used park, playground, soccer pitch and ball diamond.

Dave had operated an automotive business before becoming senior department manager of automotives at SAIT. He and his wife later owned a storage business in Okotoks.

Wes Kadey

Wes Kadey was among the early pioneers to this area, arriving in Okotoks in 1897. He first worked for the Lineham Lumber Company where he fired the steam engine. Wes established a blacksmith shop immediately east of the Stockton Block on McRae Street. It operated for 35 years until it and four other frame buildings were destroyed by fire. Wes served as mayor of Okotoks from 1911 until 1915. He also served as the fire chief for the Okotoks volunteer fire department for many years as well as served as police magistrate. He passed away in 1954 at the age of 84. 

Kirstie Kasko

Kirstie Kasko, a 2011 Holy Trinity Academy graduate, is a highly decorated swimmer whose career highlights include competing at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and the Para Pan Am Games in Guadalajara in 2011 and in Toronto in 2015. 

Kirstie swam for the Okotoks Stingrays and Foothills Stingrays, and then with the Calgary Cascades under Canadian Olympic swimmer Wendy Johnson. In October 2011, she competed at the Global Games where she set several personal bests and won a bronze medal in the 200m backstroke. The following month, Kasko earned gold medals in the 200m freestyle and 100m backstroke at the Para Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 2012, she competed at her first Paralympic Games, placing 12th in both the 100m backstroke and 100m breaststroke and 14th in the 200m freestyle. In 2013 she competed for Team Canada at the 2013 IPC World Championships, setting three Para-Swimming Canadian records. That same year she set two world records in the S14 class at the Can Am Championships para swimming competition, with times of 42.33 in 50m breaststroke and 2:49.26 in 200m individual medley. At the 2015 Para Pan Am Games in Toronto she earned three silver medals and one bronze medal, setting a new Canadian S14 long-course record in the 100m backstroke with a time of 1:16.34.

Photo: Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee

Sandi Kennedy

Sandi Kennedy has long been an ambassador of Okotoks. Sandi operated Sandi's Styles for several years, and served on the Okotoks and District Chamber of Commerce including serving as its president. Sandi was elected mayor in 1989 and became the first (and still only) female mayor in the town's history. During her six years as mayor, Sandi helped guide the town through enormous growth and change, which included the development of the new Okotoks Library on Riverside Drive, the fire station on Milligan Drive, and the Sandstone Lodge seniors' residence, among many others. While mayor, Sandi also served as a director of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. 

Sandi continues to contribute to the success and wellbeing of the community as a member of the Okotoks Rotary Club. She heads up such committees as the Rotary's annual mac and cheese luncheon to raise much needed funds for the Okotoks Food Bank. She also remains one of the town's biggest boosters through her role as a local real estate agent providing potential buyers with a positive first impression of our community. 

A.B. King

Arthur Black King came to Okotoks with his family in 1917 to work as manager of the Royal Bank on McRae Street. A.B. is considered to be one of the first flying bankers in Canada as he often took a plane from Okotoks to the oilfields in Turner Valley to deliver the $50,000 payroll to Imperial Oil Co. workers. This was due to the often impassable condition of the roads and the fear of being held up by thieves.

A.B. also had a passion for hockey and served on the board of directors of the Okotoks Hockey Club in the 1920s and also served as president of the Alberta Hockey Association. 

Allen King

Allen (Al) King came to Okotoks in 1957 to manage Hugh Berry’s pharmacy. He later purchased the store and operated T. A. King’s Pharmacy for 46 years, first at the corner of Centre Avenue and McRae Street and then on Elizabeth Street. Al has always displayed a genuine interest in the community and the people who he meets. He has volunteered his time with numerous organizations during his 60 years in Okotoks. He served on the board of the Okotoks Oilers Hockey team in the 1960s, the Okotoks Band Parents, the Okotoks Business Association which later became the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce and the Okotoks Elks Club. He also served several years as an Okotoks town councillor in the 1960s and ‘70s. More recently, Al has volunteered with the Sheep River Health Trust and the Okotoks Rotary Club. Among his favourite projects is the personal distribution of dictionaries to Grade 3 students in the district. Al was awarded the Rotary Integrity Award in 2006 and this June he was awarded the Canada 150 Medal for his long-standing service to the Okotoks community

Gwenda Kirilenko

Gwenda Kirilenko has resided in Okotoks for almost 50 years and has made a positive mark on the community. She was president of the Okotoks Figure Skating Club for many years. She has also been a long-time member of the Okotoks Lions Club, serving in numerous capacities including president. She actively contributes to the club – from pancake breakfasts to volunteering at the Lions Campground to participating in many club projects that benefit the entire community. Gwen also contributes countless hours as a volunteer for seniors and is a strong community builder and patriotic booster who visits elementary schools on flag day. She is also a past member of the Okotoks Royal Purple.

Shannon Kleibrink

Shannon Kleibrink is a highly decorated and respected athlete in the sport of curling. Shannon represented Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, where she skipped her team to the bronze medal in women’s curling. Shannon has represented Alberta at the Scott Tournament of Hearts five times, making her debut at the 1993 Scotties and most recently at the 2017 Scotties. She finished second in 2008. Shannon has a long, impressive list of accomplishments: She had her first brush with the Olympics in 1997 when she made it to the Olympic trials final. She made history in 2003 as the first female skip at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, and again in 2004 when she became the first female skip to win the CMCC. In 2005, she won the Canada Cup of Curling as well as the Olympic Trials. She and her team have had a busy 2017; most recently they competed in the Road to the Roar Pre-Trials in Summerside, PEI. Shannon can also be found working behind the scenes promoting and organizing curling events including serving as co-chair for both the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary and the WFG Continental Cup. She was also instrumental in organizing the very successful Pinty's 2016 Masters Grand Slam of Curling at Pason Arena. 

Bruce Klippenstein

Bruce Klippenstein was publisher of the Okotoks Western Wheel from 1982 until 1989. He was a tireless supporter of the town and local businesses, and had an endless list of ways to promote the town and engage residents. He organized the town's first parade of garage sales, brought turtle racing to Okotoks one summer and enthusiastically embraced events like Antique Days in May, often donning his top hat for the occasion.

Bruce was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and Toastmasters clubs. He also served on the committee that developed the town's "Spirit of Youth" slogan. 

Kevin Knibbs

Whether it was in the classroom or on the ice, Kevin Knibbs has inspired hundreds of students and athletes in Okotoks and throughout the province. Kevin served as vice-principal at Okotoks Junior High School and later Highwood High School, fostering a culture of mutual respect. He was nominated for an Alberta Excellence in Teaching Award, but like most teachers, they will tell you the greatest reward is seeing students become successful. Often they don't know the impact they have had as teachers until years later. Past students of Kevin's share this: '...[He] fought for me even when I was going down the wrong path. He helped me find a work experience position and because of that I now have a successful career in the same field of work' and '...he wouldn't just let us get away with doing whatever we wanted. But I see now it's because he cared so much about us.'

Kevin has also shared his passion for hockey as a coach and clinician for over 30 years. He has taught hockey to youth in Okotoks and across Alberta through the Black Elk Hockey School and also through his own company, K2 Hockey Clinics, where the emphasis is on skill development, safety, and fun. 

Naomi Koch

Naomi Koch is a vocal coach in Okotoks who has been helping her students hit all the right notes. She instills a love of singing among her students, and helps them develop skills and confidence to perform their best. Naomi has significantly impacted the lives of her students, and many credit Naomi for their growth and success as performers. She has seen many of her students take home top awards at regional and provincial music festivals in a wide range of categories, from musical theatre to opera. She also helps prepare students for Toronto Royal Conservatory examinations. Naomi has inspired many of her students to continue singing at the post-secondary level and some are now fulfilling their musical dreams by working and performing professionally. 

Tim Korthuis

Tim Korthuis has lived in Okotoks since 1984, sharing and inspiring a love of music with the community. Tim completed his Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Calgary in 2014 and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Rocky Mountain College. Tim currently serves as conductor and artistic director of the Foothills Philharmonic Chorus, the Okotoks Men’s Chorus and the Diamond Valley Singers. He has also served as accompanist for several local choirs including the Big Rock Singers. He has also volunteered his time and talents to play piano for residents and families at the Foothills Country Hospice. In addition, Tim inspires others as the Worship and Arts Pastor at Okotoks Alliance Church.

Pauline Krause

As the long-time park manager of the Okotoks Lions Campground, Pauline Krause provides a warm welcome to thousands of visitors to our town. Pauline is a long-time member of the Okotoks Lions Club participating in numerous club events that benefit the entire community. She's always willing to roll up her sleeves, whether it's hosting pancake breakfasts, planting trees, or managing the Lions campground. The Okotoks Lions Club has looked after the campground along the Sheep River for over 40 years and Pauline has served as the park manager for several of those years. She has also been a volunteer with Foothills Regional Victim Services for over 20 years and is a former member of the Okotoks volunteer fire department. 

Wayne Lauinger

Wayne Lauinger is chairman of the Board of Directors for the Okotoks Junior A Oilers organization, all of whom volunteer their time and resources to the Oilers program. Wayne is credited with having the vision and perseverance to pursue a Junior A hockey club for Okotoks. His passion for hockey was contagious and he attracted like-minded volunteers in the community to make the vision a reality. On June 8, 2004, the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves received the AJHL Board of Governor's approval to relocate the franchise to Okotoks. They played their first season in the 2005-06. Since then, Okotoks residents have been treated to exceptional hockey, and Oilers’ players have had the opportunity to develop their skills as well as earn scholarships to pursue their hockey careers.

Fred Laycock

Joseph Frederick (Fred) Laycock was among the Okotoks residents who selflessly enlisted to serve their country in World War II. Fred was born and raised one mile west of Okotoks. He joined the air force in 1940 and trained at Brandon, North Battleford, Edmonton and Moose Jaw. While training to be an instructor, Fred was killed Sept. 12, 1941 in a crash of a Harvard training plane 10 miles southeast of Tweed Hastings County, Ontario. He was 25.

Jim Lewis

Jim Lewis has impacted the lives of thousands of students in the community and his contributions will be felt for decades to come. In 1987, he and a number of other parents saw the need for a new school in Okotoks and began their work to form a new school division. By 1990, they had not only formed a new, separate school division (later known as Christ the Redeemer) but had built a brand new K-8 school --Good Shepherd School --which opened in January 1991. Jim was elected to the inaugural board of trustees which also included Paula Ford, Ted Tatum, Bev Palko, and John Walsh. Jim was later elected as board chairman. Thanks to their vision, the school division provides Catholic education to much of southern Alberta through its schools in Okotoks, Brooks, Canmore, Strathmore, Calgary, Oyen, Drumheller, and High River. 

Jim's contributions to the community extend beyond education. Jim and his wife Jeanette moved to Okotoks in 1976 and started an accounting firm, which they continued to operate until retiring in 2015. He was a charter member of the Okotoks Rotary Club and served as its first secretary. He was also involved with the Okotoks Lions Club and has volunteered in numerous school, church, and sports activities in Okotoks. 

John Lineham

John Lineham (1857-1913) arrived in Okotoks in the late 1880s and became a successful entrepreneur, rancher and politician. He purchased timber rights on the Sheep and Highwood Rivers and built saw mills in both Okotoks and High River. Lineham owned two large ranches west of Okotoks, and built large commercial and residential blocks in Okotoks and Calgary. He also served in the NWT Legislature and was Mayor of Okotoks in 1909 and 1910. Lineham is also widely considered western Canada's first "oil man." He, along with George Leeson and Allan Patrick, established the Rocky Mountain Development Company in February 1901 and later that year began drilling Alberta's first oil exploration well on the site of known oil seeps near Cameron Lake, in what is now Waterton Lakes National Park.

Rob Lipsett

Rob Lipsett has been a member of the Okotoks Lions Club for well over 30 years. He exemplifies the Lions Club’s motto of “We Serve” by tirelessly working on numerous events and projects that benefit the whole community. He’s been involved in the club’s rodeo committee and casino committee, among others. He’s always willing to lend a hand whether it’s at a pancake breakfast or helping to clean and rebuild the Lions Campground after the floods.  Rob leads by example and has been president of the Lions Club numerous times. In 2011 he was named Okotoks Citizen of the Year for his many years of service to the community.

Dennis Littler

Some called him Coach, some called him Mr. Lit, but throughout the 1970s, '80s, and early '90s, most people in the Foothills knew Dennis Littler as Mr. Baseball. 

Dennis began his life-long association with baseball as a youth in Springhill, Nova Scotia, where he was born and raised. He played left field and advanced as far as semi-pros. He continued playing the game into his forties. In 1969 he moved to Okotoks and for the rest of his life was involved in amateur baseball as a coach, manager, umpire, and mentor. He put his heart and soul into developing young ball players. He instilled a love of the game, promoted fair play, and inspired players to give 100 per cent in all that they did. 

Dennis passed away in 2000 at the age of 75. Littler Field near the Okotoks Recreation Centre is named in his honour. 

George Lock

Born and raised in the Okotoks district, George Lock holds the record for longest serving mayor of Okotoks. After serving as a town councillor for seven years from 1944 to 1960, George went on to serve 18 years as a much respected mayor. He was only challenged once in his nine two-year terms. During that time, George helped guide Okotoks from a population of 1,000 people to the start of the population explosion in the late 1970s.

A keen sportsman, George served as secretary of the Okotoks Curling Club for 12 years. He was also a permanent fixture at Okotoks Oilers men's hockey games, serving in such capacities as board member, timekeeper, and announcer for the senior team, which played at various times in the Foothills, Big 6, and Ranchland hockey leagues. 

John Lockhart

John Lockhart has a vast record of community contributions over the many years he has resided in Okotoks. John has supported his community through his involvement in the Okotoks Rotary Club, through minor hockey and through his connection with Community Futures Highwood. Following the 2013 floods, John was pivotal in bringing two of these things together and was the catalyst in arranging the first-ever Rotary Global Grant issued for a cause in North America. John’s contributions don’t end there -- he has served on many fundraising committees including the annual Okotoks Rotary golf tournament, soap box derby, rodeo, casinos, and headed the annual lobster boil in support of youth community programs. In recognition of these contributions, John was awarded the Canada 150 Medal from Foothills MP John Barlow earlier this year. 

Helen Lomenda

Thousands of Okotoks area residents have been well fed thanks to Helen Lomenda and her hospitality. Helen and her husband Frank and their family moved to DeWinton in 1957 and to Okotoks in 1958. She soon began what would become a 30-year career in the restaurant industry. Helen's Coffee Shop offered hearty, home-style cooking served up with a good helping of Helen's warm hospitality. Her cafés were so successful, Frank quite his day job to help out. They operated five cafés over the years -three in Okotoks, a highway truck stop, and at the Highwood Auction Mart at Aldersyde. She also had a coffee shop at Midnapore and ran the kitchen at the Willingdon Hotel for a while. Helen was instrumental in establishing the first Meals on Wheels program in Okotoks in 1979, providing meals from her restaurant. 

Helen was also involved in just about every service club in Okotoks including the Royal Purple, St. James Catholic Women's League, Lions Club, and the Sheep Creek Weavers. Helen's Coffee Shop also sponsored numerous sports teams in Okotoks. Because of their tireless efforts in the community, Helen and her husband were named Okotoks Citizens of the Year in 1981.

Helen passed away in 2016.

Joyce Loucks

Joyce Loucks is a former vice-principal, teacher and guidance counsellor with the Foothills School Division. During her 30-plus-year career, Joyce has mentored and inspired students at Okotoks Jr./Sr. High School and later at Foothills Composite High School. She taught physical education classes and also coached school and community sports. Recently retired, Joyce continues to be actively involved in the community as an athlete (still!) and organizer. She has maintained strong relationships with multi-generations of students in Okotoks. Joyce also served as president of the Alberta Schools Athletic Association which oversees junior and senior high school sports in the province.

Jim MacDonald

Jim MacDonald was involved in almost every aspect of Okotoks life since moving to the community in 1944. In fact you'd be hard pressed to find an organization that he wasn't involved in, especially in the 1950s and 60s. Jim served as president of the Okotoks Oilers Senior Hockey Club for many years, and was instrumental in bringing artificial ice to the old arena. He was a life member of the Okotoks Elks Club, and served multiple terms on Okotoks Council and the local school board. Jim was actively involved in the Okotoks Boy Scouts and worked tirelessly to establish the Scout Hall. He was a great town promoter with an endless supply of ideas for community events and projects. For many years he served as chairman of the Swimming Pool Comittee whose goal was to establish a pool in Okotoks. Jim and his wife Myrtle also ran MacDonald's Grocery and Men's Wear on McRae Street for 24 years.

Malcolm MacGougan

Malcolm MacGougan served as mayor of the Town of Okotoks in 1928 and part of 1929. He resigned in May of 1929 and moved to Calgary. The MacGougans came to Okotoks in 1919 and he managed the Merchants Bank. He also served as trustee and then chair of the local school board, secretary of the Okotoks Agricultural Society and belonged to both the Okotoks Masons and Elks lodges. His wife taught at Allan School and Okotoks Lower School.

Zak Madell

Zak Madell is an inspiring athlete who has represented Okotoks and Canada in the sport of wheelchair rugby.  A graduate of Holy Trinity Academy, Zac helped Team Canada capture silver at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, place fourth at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Games and claim gold at the 2015 Para Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Described as Canada’s fastest-rising wheelchair rugby star, Zak was recruited to the sport from wheelchair basketball, where he competed for Team Alberta at the 2011 Canada Winter Games. He made his wheelchair rugby debut at the 2011 Americas Zone Qualification Tournament and won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2011 International Wheelchair Rugby Federation Americas Championships. He went on to compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, winning another silver with Team Canada. In 2014, he was the top goal-scorer and MVP at the wheelchair rugby World Championships. He won bronze for wheelchair basketball at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and was chosen as the flag bearer for Team Alberta. Zak was also selected as the Canadian flagbearer for the closing ceremony of the 2015 Para Pan Am Games.

Zak has shown remarkable strength, determination and a love of both sport and country. His inspiring story has been captured in several television segments and YouTube videos including CBC’s ‘My Moment’ https://youtu.be/hcz68fnWwhU  and the Canadian Paralympian’s #Paratough https://youtu.be/_Y9TmU1cPu8 

Jay Magnussen

Jay Magnussen has actively contributed to the Okotoks community since he moved here in the 1980s. He played an integral part in bringing the Okotoks Jr. A Oilers to town and was instrumental in starting the Okotoks Pro Rodeo. He freely gives of his time volunteering with such organizations as the Okotoks Food Bank, Foothills Country Hospice, Okotoks KidSport, Okotoks Wishmaker Walk, Foothills AIM Society, PREP Program, Salvation Army and the annual Diversity Track Meet, among many, many others. He has also been a coach and mentor to numerous youth through the Okotoks Minor Hockey Association. Jay’s willingness to get involved – whether it’s by lending a helping hand, offering a trusting ear or sponsoring events – has made Okotoks a better place for all. Community members describe him as “a role model,” “leads by example,” and “exemplifies what it means to be a community volunteer.”

Donovan Martin

Born and raised north of Okotoks, Donovan Martin was considered the top women's college basketball coach in the province. He retired in 2015 after 17 years coaching the Mount Royal Cougars (1982-90 and 1998-07), and eight years with the SAIT Trojans (2007-15). He also has the honour of retiring as the all-time winningest coach in Mount Royal women’s basketball history.

During his two stints with the Cougars, he amassed an overall record of 264-48. He led the Cougars to eight ACAC Championships, the most of any coach in his era. During his tenure with the Cougars he claimed five national silver medals and won the CCAA Championship in 2000. The win in 2000 was the first and only national title in program history.  In back-to-back seasons in 1999-00 and 2000-01, Donovan was named the top coach in all of Alberta, winning the ACAC Coach of the Year, and was recognized as the top women’s basketball coach in ACAC history by Basketball Alberta.  Donovan was inducted into the Mount Royal University Cougars’ Wall of Fame in 2017.

Bill McAlpine

Bill McAlpine has devoted 18 years to public service in Okotoks. He first served on Okotoks Town Council as a councillor for two terms, 1971 to 1976. He then served four terms as mayor from 1998 to 2010. During his time as mayor he was instrumental in the planning of the Centennial Arena, the much-needed 32nd Street Bridge, and Seaman Stadium. It was through his efforts that the Dawgs baseball team established in Okotoks 10 years ago. He was also involved in the development of both the Okotoks Museum and Archives and the Rotary Performing Arts Centre. McAlpine has been an active member of the Okotoks Lions and Rotary Clubs, including terms as president, where he volunteers his time to numerous activities that benefit the community. Bill received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2012, was inducted into the Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame in 2016 and was inducted into the Okotoks Hall of Fame in June, 2017. McAlpine Crossing is named after him as well as the press box at Seaman Stadium.

Much of Bill’s success and contributions to the town must also be credited to his wife Kae whose kindness and love of community will long be remembered and deeply missed.

Bill McFarlane

Bill McFarlane has been making a difference in Okotoks since the mid-70s. Bill established McFarlane Agencies in 1974, and a year later began serving the Okotoks community which makes it among the longest-operating, family-run businesses in Okotoks. Bill is a strong supporter of the business community and is a past president of the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce. Bill served one term on Okotoks Council from 1978 to 1980. He also served on the Okotoks Triplex Committee whose efforts resulted in the much-needed recreation centre. Bill was actively involved with the Okotoks Junior B Bisons hockey program, serving as general manager of the Bisons in 1989-90 and as president from 1991-99. 

In 2011, Bill and his wife Karen were presented with the Okotoks Rotary Club's Integrity Award for their many years of volunteering and supporting local events and charities including the Foothills Country Hospice, Okotoks Pro Rodeo, school and church programs and the Foothills Highland Games among many others. The McFarlanes are role models for their community and also to their two sons, Trevor and Jay. Both of them are following their parents' lead of giving back to the community: Trevor has long been involved with hockey through the Okotoks Oilers Athletic Association and Jay served many years as general manager of the Okotoks Bisons and is also active with the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce and Okotoks Rotary Club.

Jack McIntyre

John “Jack” McIntyre was one of three McIntyre brothers to serve during World War II, along with brothers Ronald and Malcolm. The McIntyres lived on the farm immediately north of Okotoks which became D’Arcy Ranch. The McIntyre house and barn still stand. Jack was a flight sergeant with the 196 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was reported missing in action on Feb. 15, 1943. He was 31. His name is among those inscribed at the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey, England. This memorial commemorates by name 20,000 airmen who were lost in World War II, but who have no known graves.

Ronald McIntyre

Ronald McIntyre was one of three McIntyre brothers to serve during World War II, along with Ronald and Malcolm. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1939 and trained as a wireless operator/ gunner.

In a letter home in Sept. 1941, he wrote: “…Sometimes I wonder just where all this mess is going to wind up. This is the 20th Century and people are supposed to be civilized but they come over and bomb us and we go over and bomb them.  When one sits down and thinks for a while it seems rather like we are a way back in the ‘Dark Ages.’ Oh well, I guess everything will turn out O.K.” His last letter home arrived Oct. 13, 1941: “I’d be content to settle on the farm now, but not until this job is done.” Two days later, on Oct. 15, Ron’s plane failed to return. It was established months later that it had been shot down over Dusseldorf, Germany. He was 24.

Helen McKay

Helen McKay moved with her parents to Okotoks in 1925. She became a teacher and joined the Okotoks School Staff in 1933. She enlisted with the Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) in 1943 and, following basic training, she was posted to Calgary and was attached to the No. 16 Adminstrative Unit at Currie Barracks. Helen was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in June 1944. She served with the CWAC until 1946 and later with the RCASC Militia Unit and High River. She returned to teaching until her retirement in 1972. Throughout her teaching career, Helen fostered a social awareness in her students, encouraging them to be active citizens and to help those less fortunate. 

Alexander McRae

In 1882 Alexander McRae arrived in Alberta and was headed further north when a wild September snowstorm forced him and his companion Kenneth Cameron to stop and seek shelter along the Sheep River. They didn’t venture further. Alexander took up a homestead and pre-emption on land where the Town of Okotoks now stands. He built his home approximately where the Glorond Condominiums are located. Alexander was the first registrar of this district, the first overseer of the village of Okotoks and then served as a councillor of the town for several years after its incorporation. Alexander was also a Justice of the Peace who was noted for being ‘one of the fairest, most just, and best informed in the province.’ He was also a charter member of the Okotoks Masonic Lodge.

McRae Street in Okotoks is named after him. 

Annabelle (Murray) McLean

As a teenager in the 1950s, Annabelle Murray was golden in the sport of track and field, claiming provincial, national and international recognition. Raised in Okotoks since the age of three, Annabelle represented Canada on the international stage at the British Empire Games in 1954. She competed in four track and field events, winning a bronze medal in the 4x110-yard relay event and placing sixth in broad jump. Annabelle was the Canadian champion in the 100-yard dash in 1954 and then went on to win back-to-back national championships in 1955 and 1956. She held Canadian records in broad jump and relay. In addition to her national achievements, Annabelle earned a long list of provincial honours including six consecutive aggregate championships and has held numerous provincial records. For these reasons, Annabelle was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1960 becoming the first woman to be recognized in track and field. She was inducted into the Okotoks Hall of Fame in 2014 in the Sports Athlete category.

Annabelle’s other passions were gymnastics and figure skating, and she shared her love of skating with young skaters as a skating professional.

Joe Miller

Joe Miller served the Okotoks area for 10 years as a member of the Alberta Provincial Police. His beat consisted of 24 townships which he covered by horseback. Joe and his wife Alice Marie owned the Alberta Hotel at the east end of Okotoks and then managed the Willingdon Hotel for almost 30 years. The hotel's large dining room and the Millers' warm hospitality were renowned throughout southern Alberta. 

Joe Miller passed away in 1968. 

Pat Milligan

Patrick Milligan spent 18 years on Okotoks Council, first as a town councillor for nine years and then served as mayor of Okotoks for three terms, totalling another nine years, from 1968 until 1977. The mindful planning undertaken during his terms as mayor helped lay the foundation for the future growth and unprecedented development of Okotoks that ocurred during the late 70s and early 80s. Pat and his wife Jean moved to Okotoks in 1951. He worked as the elevator agent for Midland Pacific, and then in 1956 he established Okotoks Feed Service located on South Railway Street which he operated for over 40 years. Pat was active with numerous community organizations including the Okotoks Elks, the Okotoks Agricultural Society, Chamber of Commerce, Okotoks Curling Club, and was among those who helped establish the Okotoks Scout Hall. 

Pat passed away in 1989. 

Riley Minue

Riley Minue was a young man whose passion for life and for swimming was unequalled. Riley was a member of the Okotoks Stingrays Swim Club and went on to become one of the premier swimmers in Alberta capturing numerous provincial championships, from 1996 to 2001. Riley's speed in the pool, particularly in the butterfly, earned him the nickname 'Dr. Fly'. Riley led by example, was admired by teammates and competitors alike and was the epitome of a true sportsman. He was a mentor to all swimmers and was also a devoted son, brother and grandson. Riley passed away in 2004 at the age of 20. In 2012, the six-lane lap pool at the Okotoks Recreation Centre was named the Riley Minue Pool in his memory. 

Doyle Mullaney

Dr. Doyle Mullaney was a colourful chuckwagon driver for 50 years. Affectionately known as ‘Doc’ or that ‘Colourful Irishman’, Doyle began his career as a chuckwagon driver and outrider in 1964. He captured the World Pony Chuckwagon Championship in 1971 and went on to win numerous victories at World Professional Chuckwagon Association events.  His lifetime dedication to the sport earned him four WPCA ‘Active Supporter Awards’, he earned the ‘Chuckwagon Person of the Year’ award in 1993 and won the prestigious ‘George Normand Lifetime Builders Award’ in 2005.

Doyle’s outgoing personality and passion for racing made him a great ambassador for the chuckwagon industry and the town. He proudly carried the name ‘Okotoks’ on his leprechaun and shamrock-emblazoned wagon. He participated in the opening ceremonies for the 1988 Winter Olympics, the Calgary Grey Cup parade, and promoted Alberta and our western culture in Washington, D.C. 

Doyle also had a lifetime commitment to animal health. Doyle graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1973 and for 30 years he owned and operated the Big Rock Animal Clinic in Okotoks until 2010. Doyle passed away in 2013. He was inducted into the Okotoks Hall of Fame posthumously in 2014.

Pamela Morgan

Pamela Morgan is founder and president of the local charity, Baby it’s Cold Outside which offers assistance to individuals who are homeless and/or living in poverty. She’s been described as having a heart as big as the foothills due to her unwavering commitment to provide a hand up to those in need. Pamela and her team at Baby it’s Cold Outside, along with the support of sponsors and volunteers, help supply Alberta’s homeless shelters with basic necessities.

Among their programs are the Throw in the Towel campaign, winter and spring clothing drives, and most recently the second Christmas Fixin’s program which provided families with items for Christmas dinner.

Pamela and the Baby it’s Cold Outside charity are also bringing public awareness to the issue of homelessness in the province.

Pete Mullaney

Pete Mullaney was a barber, chuckwagon driver and a fiddle player who delighted in sharing these passions with others. Pete's chuckwagon career started in 1947 and for the next 20 years he drove both thoroughbred and pony chuckwagons. He was a two-time World Pony Chuckwagon Champion in 1954 and 1966. A barber by trade, Pete moved to Okotoks in 1973 and set up a barber shop which he operated for the next 40 years. He loved to play the fiddle and violin, and shared this passion at numerous events as well as providing music lessons on string and wind instruments for many years. In 1995 Pete was awarded with the World Professional Chuckwagon Association’s Special Tribute Award for his life-long support of the sport. Pete passed away in 2013 at the age of 93.

Allan Murray

Allan Murray came to Okotoks in 1938 and brought with him a love of hockey. Allan played intermediate and senior hockey in Killam, Stettler, Hanna, Drumheller and High River. Nicknamed ‘Bearcat’, Allan was playing for the High River Flyers when he scored the first goal in the new Okotoks Arena in 1929. A decade later, he moved to Okotoks and quickly embraced his new community. He promoted both the peewee and juvenile teams, coached the Okotoks juniors, and then served on the executive and as manager of the Okotoks Oilers in the Big 6 League. He was also an avid curler and a founding member of the Grainmen’s Bonspiel. Allan had a life-long career with the Alberta Wheat Pool and was an agent at New Norway, Milo, Vulcan, Blackie and then at Okotoks. In addition, Allan served on Okotoks Council for one term, 1969-71, and six years on the hospital board. He was also a member of the Okotoks community band.

The Murray Arena at the Okotoks Recreation Centre is named after him and the Murray family including his wife Belle, and children Jim, Norman, Donald and Annabelle who were all active in the community, especially sports.

Jim "Bearcat" Murray

Jim "Bearcat" Murray is a tireless ambassador for the sport of hockey and the Okotoks community. Raised in Okotoks since the age of five, Bearcat spent much of his youth at the Okotoks arena, lacing up his hockey skates for the Okotoks Oilers. Bearcat went on to serve 29 years as an athletic trainer and therapist in both football and hockey. He worked for the Calgary Centennials, Calgary Cowboys, Calgary Wranglers, the Calgary Stampeders, and the Calgary Flames. He served 16 years with the Flames; a highlight of which was winning the Stanley Cup for the 1988-89 season. Bearcat was inducted into the Hockey  Hall of Fame in June 2009 by the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society and the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers. He was named to the Okotoks Hall of Fame in 2014.

Bearcat tackles everything with boundless energy, a positive attitude, and a sense of humour. He has his own Wikipedia page and has even had two fan clubs. The Bearcat Murray Fan Club was first established in Boston and another chapter later established in Montreal. But Bearcat never forgot his roots and whenever and wherever possible he proudly proclaims he's just a "bald-headed little potlicker from Okotoks." Oh, the stories he can tell! Bearcat freely gives his time to speak at schools and sports banquets and is never too busy to support the countless charities and fund-raising events that call on him every year. 

Archie Noble

Archie Noble was born and raised in the Tongue Creek area west of High River, the youngest son of Thomas and Mary Noble. Upon graduation from the University of Alberta as a pharmacist, Archie moved to Okotoks where he bought the drug store at the corner of McRae Street and Centre Avenue (now Veteran’s Way). Displayed in the picture window of his drug store were two photo collages of the servicemen and women from Okotoks who enlisted in the war. Archie’s own photo was added when he enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force and trained as an air bomber. The photo collage, completed by Laura Hole, became a gathering place for the community. Residents came almost daily to see if any small foil stars were placed on photos to mark if they were missing or killed in action. In 1944, a foil star was added to Archie’s photo in the drug store. He was killed on May 26, 1944 at the age of 28. He is buried in the Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery in Nottinghamshire, England.

Mina Noble

Mina Noble helped establish the Okotoks and District Historical Society and was the driving force behind the town’s history book, “A Century of Memories.” This book provides a valuable, detailed history of the town’s development and many of the early families who lived here. The book continues to serve as a lasting legacy to Mina as well as the other members of the history book committee.

Mina was raised southwest of Okotoks and later became a farm wife not too far from where she was raised. She was a long-time supporter of 4-H, the United Church, the Alberta Hereford Belles and the United Farm Women. In 1969 Mina, along with her husband Jock, were guests of the USSR’s minister of agriculture who invited them to tour several Soviet farms where Canadian Hereford cattle – including their own – had been sent.

Mina passed away in 2011 at the age of 90. 

Arthur Oaks

Arthur Oaks was born on August 3, 1897, son of Arthur William and Mary Elizabeth MacDonald Oaks. Arthur attended school in Okotoks and was a member of the Okotoks School Cadets. He enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces on May 3, 1915 at the age of 17. He didn’t lie about his age -- his enlistment record accurately records his age as 17 years, nine months. Overseas he served with the 10th Battalion, known as the Fighting Tenth. Pte. Oaks was killed on August 28, 1918 just three weeks past his 21st birthday. He is buried at the Faubourg-D’Amiens Cemetery in Arras, France.

Okotoks Triplex Planning Committee

The Okotoks Triplex Planning Committee consisted of several Okotoks and area residents who made a significant and long-lasting difference in the community.

The committee was formed by council in 1978 to develop a plan for recreational facilities in Okotoks. Its objectives were to “collect appropriate data, review community requirements, develop sketch plans, formulate recommendations and prepare a written report.” The volunteer committee was headed by Hugh Gillard Jr. and included Jack Brown, Fred Burley, John Fraser, Vic Heaver, Albert Herr, Bill McAlpine, Doug Moore, Brian Quigley, Ted Shacklady and Lawrie Wedderburn. They completed their report in May, 1979 which resulted in the proposed development of the Okotoks Recreation Centre. Their purpose then evolved from a planning committee into a building committee and included the addition of Diane Widney and Mal Blasetti. Phase 1, which included the swimming pool, lobby and the building’s shell, was opened Jan. 9, 1982. Phase 2, which included the arena and the curling rink, was opened 34 years ago this week, Oct. 1, 1983. The rec centre continues to be the hub of the community, thanks to the vision and hard-work of each member who served on the committee.

Rick Oncescu

Rick Oncescu spent 39 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including many years as the sergeant of the Okotoks detachment and then the High River detachment.

In the early 1990s, Rick founded the Foothills Victim Services, an organization that helps victims of crime and traumatic incidents, providing them with essential support and advocacy at what is often the worst times of their lives. This fall, Rick stepped back from the program after almost 25 years of service, having seen it grow from a single advocate to 20 volunteer advocates. The impact the program has had on survivors of trauma is truly profound.

Rick has served as chairperson/organizer of the annual Okotoks Remembrance Day services for 10 years. He, along with Malcolm Hughes of the Okotoks Legion, were selected to be co-marshals of the 2017 Okotoks Parade for the work they do with the annual service as well as their other community efforts. Rick is a founding member and past president of the Okotoks Rotary Club and actively participates in numerous projects and events that aid the community. He was awarded the club’s Paul Harris Award in recognition of his service. He also received the Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 which was awarded to Canadians who have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to their communities or to Canada as a whole.

Shirley Paradis

Shirley is a skilled professional artist working in a multitude of mediums, from oils and acrylics to stained glass, silversmithing and metal sculpture. She is highly regarded in the arts industry and her artworks are in high demand.

Shirley shares her love of art unconditionally and inspires others as a teacher, a mentor, a volunteer and as a leader. She has been an active and long-serving member of the Okotoks Arts Council fulfilling numerous roles including president. As president, Shirley spearheaded the drive to save the former Okotoks United Church and transform it into a space for the performing arts. Shirley has inspired and mentored countless amateur and aspiring professional artists with her boundless energy and encouragement. She also uses art as a therapeutic tool to promote healing and growth. However, her special gift is working with children and Shirley continues to nurture generations of passionate young artists through her numerous art classes and camps. Shirley was inducted into the Okotoks Hall of Fame in 2015 as a community builder in the arts and culture category.

Anthony Parker

Calgary Stampeders’ receiver Anthony Parker was raised in Okotoks and played with the Foothills Composite High School Falcons from 2004 to 2007. He went on to play at the University of Calgary where he earned two Canada West all-star selections and was named the Western Canada representative to the 2010 East-West Shrine Game. Anthony was drafted by the Stampeders in the first round (third overall) of the 2011 Draft. Over his six seasons, he has racked up 1,763 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He is coming off his best year, with 51 catches for 654 yards, four touchdowns and two two-point converts.

Anthony serves as an inspiration to younger athletes, proving that you don’t have to be from a big city to achieve your athletic dreams.

The CFL has provided Anthony with a platform to serve the community. He’s participated in the Build Our Kids Success (BOKS) program, Goodwill, and ‘Leading Change: The Alberta CFL Project’ in partnership with the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. He also speaks to students and young athletes about concussion awareness.  

Winston Parker

Winston Parker describes himself as an ordinary fellow, but nothing can be further from the truth. This extraordinary man has made extraordinary contributions to his community and to his country.

Raised in the Red Deer Lake / Priddis areas, Winston embodies the rural values of generosity, compassion and commitment to community. Winston joined the air force at the age of 21 and served as a wireless operator and wireless air gunner. In 1942 his Wellington bomber was shot down over Germany and he became a prisoner of war for the next three years.

He has helped build strong communities in the Foothills through his tireless efforts, particularly with the Royal Canadian Legion, Millarville Racing and Ag Society, MD of Foothills Agricultural Service Board, Heritage Park, the Southern Alberta Pioneers, Bomber Command Museum and SAIT among many others. In 1989 Winston ‘retired’ from his farm and moved to Okotoks. He was instrumental in fund-raising and planning for a seniors’ centre in Okotoks which is part of the Foothills Community Centre. The seniors’ centre stands as one of his lasting legacies to the community.

Winston turned 99 on July 31, 2017. Learn more about this extraordinary man by reading his biography, quite aptly titled “Saddles and Service – Winston Parker’s Story,” which was published in 2011. 

George Paterson

George Coull Strachan Paterson served as postmaster for the town of Okotoks for 33 years, from 1909 to 1942, operating from the tin-clad building on North Railway Street. Originally from Scotland, George came to Okotoks in 1882 with his parents. His father John opened Paterson & Sons general store in partnership with George and another son William. George also served as mayor of Okotoks in 1906, and was chairman of the Okotoks School Board, served 25 years as secretary of the Corinthian Lodge, and was an executive member of the Southern Alberta Old Timers' Association. In addition to his local involvement, George assisted in organizing the Alberta Postmasters' Association and served on the national executive. 

Percy Pegler

Percy Pegler moved to Sandstone Coulee west of Okotoks in 1911 to work in the brickyards. He farmed for many years and then retired to Elma Street in the early 1950s. Throughout his life he took an active role in the community, serving as a trustee with the local school board for many years and was a long-time volunteer with the Okotoks Boy Scouts. He grew restless in retirement and became caretaker of the Okotoks Lower School where he taught students to play soccer and became a much loved figure at the school. He was considered an environmentalist and conservationist long before it became fashionable. Percy passed away in 1973. Percy Pegler Elementary School, opened in 1976, is named after him.  

Karen Peters

Karen Peters has a passion for Okotoks history and on many Saturdays throughout the year, she can be found leading guided tours of downtown Okotoks, Elma Street and the Okotoks cemetery. She generously volunteers her time to share the extraordinary stories of the men and women who helped build the town. Karen is a long-time member of the Okotoks and District Historical Society and spearheads many of the projects that the society undertakes. She is also one of the tour guides of the society's popular annual ghost tours. For many people in the community Karen is simply known as ‘Miss P’. For over two decades, Miss P. has been inspiring students at the Foothills Composite High School where she works as an educational assistant in the professional cooking department. She fosters a love of cooking among students, many of whom have gone on to pursue professional cooking careers. Karen takes a genuine interest in her students and creates an atmosphere of mutual respect – which has proven to be the perfect recipe for students’ success.

Elmer Piper

Elmer Piper operated 'Okotoks Service,' a farm implement dealership and garage for 30 years and served on Okotoks Council for seven years. However, Elmer is best known for his hockey and coaching career. He played with the Saskatoon Quakers when they took the world championship in 1934. He coached the Trail Smoke Eaters to the Allan Cup final in 1938 and then moved to Okotoks to coach the newly formed Turner Valley Oilers. He went on to coach the Baltimore Orioles in Maryland for a season before returning to coach the Currie Barracks Army hockey team. After the war, hockey was revived in Okotoks and Elmer coached the Okotoks Oilers for 15 more years. The Piper Arena is named after his contributions to hockey. He was also inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the 1934 Saskatoon Quakers. 

Charlie Power

Charlie Power played high school football as a linebacker for the Holy Trinity Academy Knights in Okotoks from 2006 to 2008. He won the Knights' defensive player of the year award in each of his three seasons, and helped lead the Knights to the provincial semifinals in his senior year. Charlie played college football as a linebacker for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, 2009-11. He was drafted in the fourth round, 28th overall, by the Calgary Stampeders in 2013 and made his CFL debut in the 2014 Labour Day Classic. In 2016, Charlie played all 18 regular-season games and recorded 17 special-teams tackles, one defensive tackle, one blocked punt and one forced fumble. He also had two receptions. He added two special-teams tackles in the Western Final and one special-teams tackle in the Grey Cup.

The Stamps provide Charlie opportunities to give back to his community. This year he has supported and brought awareness to numerous causes including the Calgary Urban Project Society and Canadian Blood Services. He’s participated in Law Day, Hike for the Hospice and has visited schools as part of the Stamps’ basketball program. He and fellow Stamp Anthony Parker have also visited Holy Trinity Academy to speak at the inaugural Concussion Awareness Night. In 2014 and 2015, Charlie returned to HTA to help coach and inspire the next generation of linebackers, receivers and special teams.

John Price

John Price, a former University of Calgary and University of Alberta football player, has been instrumental in the development of the Okotoks Eagles Football Program and has mentored hundreds of Okotoks’ youth during his time with the Eagles.

His coaching experience includes various levels with the Eagles from Pee Wee to Bantam and in 2014, the same year the Eagles won the Canadian Bantam Football Association Championship, his expertise earned him “Bantam Coach of the Year” by Football Alberta. His other accomplishments over the years include coaching the Calgary Bantam Selects, Offensive Coordinator for Foothills Composite High School, Assistant Coach for Team Alberta for U16 and U18 teams, and travelling with the teams to play nationally and internationally. Though he has also coached hockey and soccer in Okotoks, his true passion has been the development of the sport of football in this community.

In 2017, John was inducted in to the Okotoks Hall of Fame in the Sports- Community Builder category. 

Marg Proctor

Marg Proctor has a passion for reading and libraries.

Marg and her family moved to Okotoks in 1978 when the town had a population of 1,400 people. Her involvement with the Okotoks Library began by pure happenstance. She was walking downtown where she saw some people in a shop sorting through books.  She asked what they were doing and they said they were trying to open a library.  She jumped at the opportunity to help because books were her passion. Marg helped open that first library in a bay in Okotoks Town Square, then helped it move to the former telephone office on McRae Street and then to the site where the library is today. Her connection with the Okotoks Library spanned 20 years, most of which was as its head librarian. Marg made everyone feel welcome at the library, sharing her love of reading and of libraries with the community. When Marg retired in 1998, circulation at the library reached 11,000 – a far cry from the library’s humble beginnings.