150 Okotokians Who Have Made A Difference A-H

In celebration of Canada's 150th birthday in 2017, the Okotoks Museum and Archives presented 150 Okotokians who made a difference in our community. New people were posted each week throughout the year. Take a look below to learn about 150 great Okotokians. 


Harry Alger

Harry Alger led a remarkably diverse life that ranged from rough-necking to politics, which took him from Norman Wells, NWT to his 'Southern Comfort' farm west of Okotoks. Harry grew up in Turner Valley, worked on the rigs at Norman Wells, and served as a wireless air gunner during World War II. In 1950, Harry and his brother-in-law formed Widney Oilwell Drilling and Service Company Ltd., which they owned and operated for over 30 years. 

Harry devoted countless hours to numerous service organizations, including the Lions, Elks, Shriners, and Masons. Harry also served the district as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Highwood. He was first elected in 1982 and was re-elected in 1986. During his terms in the Legislature, Harry served on numerous standing comittees. Harry retired from politics in 1989.
Harry passed away in 2010 at the age of 85. 

Dr. Alfred E. Ardiel

Dr. Alfred E. Ardiel arrived in Okotoks in 1907 and served as a medical doctor here for 43 years. He made many house calls by buggy or sleigh as well as treated patients at his office located in his beautiful brick home on McRae Street. Dr. Ardiel also served as medical health officer and coroner for High River, Nanton, and Okotoks. He was an avid sportsman, playing on such teams as the Okotoks Cricket Team, Lawn Bowling Team, Tennis Club, and Curling Club. Dr. Ardiel and his wife Gertrude had three children, Leonard, Kathleen, and Maurice. Dr. Ardiel passed away in 1950. 

Leonard Ardiel

Leonard Ardiel was born and raised in Okotoks, the eldest son of Dr. and Mrs. A. E. Ardiel. He joined the staff of the Bank of Montreal in Okotoks in 1928. In March 1943, Leonard enlisted with the army and served overseas with C Company of the Calgary Highlanders. In a letter to his father received Sept. 17, 1943, Leonard wrote from England: “It was quite a trip across the ocean in which the ocean itself was very calm and as a result there were very few cases of seasickness. As for myself, I hardly knew I was on a boat and just felt fine all the way across. . . It will no doubt take some time to get used to the blackout here for just as darkness approaches out go all the lights.” Telegrams sent to his family first listed him as wounded and then missing. It was later confirmed he was killed in action on July 19, 1944. He was 35. Leonard is buried at the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery at Calvados, France. 

Maurice Ardiel

Born and raised in Okotoks, Maurice Ardiel wore many, many hats and contributed to the Okotoks community in numerous ways during his 85 years. Maurice taught school in Okotoks before serving as secretary-treasurer of the Town of Okotoks for 12 years, as well as the Okotoks School Board, four rural mutual telephone cooperatives, and the Okotoks-Dewinton Electrification Association. He also owned and operated an insurance business, Ardiel Agencies, for 30 years until his retirement in 1978. He volunteered with several service clubs including the Elks, Lions, and Masons. He was a board member of the Okotoks Oilers Hockey Club, Okotoks Seniors Club, Okotoks Curling Club, and a founding member of the Okotoks investment Club. Maurice also had a great passion for history and was a member of the Okotoks and District Historical Society. He was instrumental in the creation of the town's history book, A Century of Memories. 

In 1979, Maurice was acknowledged by the Chamber of Commerce in recognition of outstanding citizenship and contribution to the business community. He was also awarded the Okotoks Rotary Club's Integrity Award in 1996. 

Maurice passed away in 1999.

Al and Pat Balderson

Al and Pat Balderson were tireless volunteers for the Okotoks community for decades. Pat moved to Okotoks with her parents in 1936, and Al moved to this area after serving in World War II. They married and farmed north of Okotoks where they raised a family of four children. The Baldersons gave freely of their time to numerous organizations including the Okotoks United Church, the Food Bank, the Okotoks Arts Council, and the Okotoks and District Historical Society. They were strong advocates for the arts and generously supported local artists. They never sought recognition, preferring to quietly and often anonymously work behind the scenes. Al and Pat's commitment to the community and to each other was inspiring. They were married for 65 years. Al passed away in 2013 at the age of 90 and Pat passed away in 2014 at the age of 84. 

John Barlow

John Barlow was elected as a Member of Parliament to represent the federal riding of Macleod on June 30, 2014 in a by-election. He was re-elected on Oct. 19, 2015 to the riding of Foothills and is currently Critic for Interprovincial Trade as well as Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

As an MP, John provides a voice for residents of the Foothills riding, raising the issues that affect his constituents. Prior to becoming an MP, John spent 17 years with the Okotoks Western Wheel and prior to that the High River Times. Similarly, as a journalist, John provided a voice for local residents. He reported the news that affected local residents; he championed their causes and celebrated their successes.  John also actively volunteers in the community, contributing to the success of numerous events and organizations including the Foothills Highland Games, High Country Sports Facility Fundraising Society, Okotoks Rotary Club, and the Okotoks Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. He also served on the Journalism Advisory Boards at SAIT and Mount Royal University.

Brad Banister

Brad Banister is synonymous with the game of lacrosse. Canada's national sport has flourished in Okotoks as a result of Brad's dedication, experience, and pure love of the game which he has shared with hundreds of local athletes as a coach, manager, and mentor. Brad, along with Dana Robinson, founded the Okotoks Minor Lacrosse Association in 1995. Brad was instrumental in building lacrosse in Okotoks at all levels of the game -from the minor leagues to Junior A. As a result, Okotoks has become a nationally-recognized hotbed for lacrosse; in fact, it's the second largest lacrosse community in Canada per capita. In 2011 Brad put Okotoks on the national stage by bringing the Minto Cup to Okotoks, which saw the top players in Canada compete for a national junior lacrosse title. Brad was a founding owner of the Calgary Roughnecks Lacrosse Team, which was established in Calgary in 2001, and helped guide them to two National Lacrosse League titles in 2004 and 2009. Brad was also honoured by the NLL as Executive of the Year in 2004. 

Brad has not only given freely of his time to the sport of lacrosse, but also donated financially to the Alberta Lacrosse Association to benefit Okotoks and all of Alberta. His support for minor sports in Okotoks also extends to volunteering as a coach in hockey and soccer, as well as lacrosse. In 2013, Brad was named to the Okotoks Hall of Fame in the program's inaugural year in the 'Sports -Community Builder' category. Each May the Okotoks Raiders Lacrosse Association honours its two founders with the awarding of the Banister and Robinson Cups during the annual Spring Classic. 2017 marks the tournament's 15th year. 

Harold Banister

Harold Banister was elected mayor of Okotoks in February, 1932 for a two-year term. He was re-elected in February, 1934 however he died that October nine months into the first year of his second term. Harold had come to Canada in 1884 from England and settled in the Davisburg area. Harold and his wife Laura moved into Okotoks in 1913 and they became active in the community. Harold served as police magistrate and bailiff for the town. He was also an avid curler and member of the Masonic Lodge, Elks Lodge and sang in the United Church choir. He also served as superintendent of the United Church Sunday School after being assured that “his love of horse racing did not make him unfit for the position.” Banister Drive is named after him. 

Don Barnes

Don Barnes had a passion for music; he was either playing music or helping others play. As a luthier, Don crafted beautiful violins, violas and cellos from his ‘Grandpa’s Workshop’ on North Railway Street. He also supplied tonewood for a variety of string instruments. Don and his wife Sharon moved to Okotoks in 1974. Don became active with the Okotoks Arts Council as a director and was instrumental in the council’s purchase of the former Okotoks United Church and its transformation into a performing arts centre. He worked tirelessly on the project, serving as the lead of the fundraising committee, obtaining development permits, and coordinating the building code requirements. It was a proud day when Don handed the scissors to then-mayor Bill McAlpine to officially open the performing arts centre in 2005. Never idle, Don also made unique wooden benches made from slabs cut from poplar tree trunks. Don donated a couple of these benches to the town last year and were installed along a pathway in the Drake Landing area. The benches serve as a legacy to Don’s love of woodworking, the arts and his town.

Don passed away in 2016.

Max Bell

George Maxwell "Max" Bell, born in Regina in 1912, was a well-known businessman, newspaper publisher, sports promoter, and philanthropist. He established Golden West Farms on the south side of the Sheep River in 1959. The 500-acre farm became known as the biggest and best thoroughbred breeding farm in Alberta, and his horses won numerous races including the Coronation Stakes in Toronto, the Manitoba Derby, the Winnipeg Futurity and the Canadian Derby. The farm attracted Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Robert Kennedy, Roy Rogers, and Dale Evans. Max Bell passed away in 1972 and is buried in the Okotoks Cemetery. Four businessmen later purchased the farm; part of which has been developed into the Hunter's Glen and Sheep River Ridge subdivisions. A pathway along the Sheep River is named after him as well as a theatre and arena in Calgary. 

(Photo courtesy Toronto Public Library)

Helen Blondin

The Okotoks Figure Skating Club is in its 52nd year and it owes its start to Helen Blondin. Helen and her family moved to Okotoks in 1959. Her vision was to establish a figure skating club that would help develop skating skills as well as nurture a love of the sport. Further, it provided a winter pastime other than hockey. In 1965, the Okotoks Figure Skating Club was founded. Helen recalls "...I went to town council to see about ice -they gave us two hours a week, in exchange we'd split the canival proceeds with them. So began a club with 37 skaters, a coach whose only charge was mileage, "free" ice, and an annual membership fee of $10 which included ice time, instruction, carnival costumes and encouragement from the on and off-ice supervision moms." Helen was often called Mother Mabel or Ma Blondin as she was a spare mother at the rink to so many. She also sewed costumes for the skaters, and recorded the music for their solos, tests, and carnivals. The Blondins moved away in 1977, but the figure skating club serves as her legacy. (Helen will be celebrating her 89th birthday this year.)

Linda Boychuck

 As a nurse, Linda Boychuk exemplified the role of a care giver devoting her life to the wellbeing of others. Linda was born and raised in Manitoba and obtained her RN at Misericordia Hospital. She worked in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Fernie and Fort St. John before moving with her family to Okotoks in 1979. Linda worked as a home care/public health nurse in Okotoks, eventually becoming Director of Homecare for the area. She later worked with Calgary Family Services, Comcare, Career Designs, The Beverly Centre and Fountains of Mission in Calgary.

Linda was equally devoted to the wellbeing of her community and took an active role in public life. She served three terms on Okotoks Town Council and volunteered on numerous town committees. She also served as an elected board member of the Headwaters Health Authority for many years. Linda passed away in 2010 after a long and courageous battle with ALS. ‘The Linda Boychuk Meeting Place’ near the Okotoks Clock Tower was named in her honour.

James Bullivant

William James Bullivant was born Sept. 21, 1886 and grew up south of Okotoks on the family farm. On March 4, 1916 he joined the High River Platoons of the 137th Battalion and later the 10th Battalion, also known as the "Fighting Tenth." Pte. Bullivant participated in the Battle at Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. He was first reported as wounded but it was later confirmed that he had died on that date. Pte. Bullivant's name is inscribed on the Vimy Memorial in France. It bears the names of 11,000 Canadian servicemen who died in France -many of them in the fight for Vimy Ridge -but who have no known grave. 


Doug Carr

Doug Carr was born and raised near the Big Rock. Throughout his life, he worked selflessly for the community with an unwavering willingness to get involved. Doug spent much of his life advocating for local farmers. He was the founding president of the local Farmers Union of Alberta and served as president of the Okotoks Feeders Association. He assisted in bringing rural electrification to farmers west of Okotoks and served on the local board for many years. He also was instrumental in establishing rural fire protection and mail service in his area as well as served as director and president of the Big Rock Mutual Telephone Cooperative.

Doug was a life member of the Masonic and Elks lodges, and was a member of the High River and District Old Timers Association. He loved to curl and was a member of the Okotoks Curling Club and Seniors Curling Club and a founding member of the Farmers Curling Club. He was an active member of the Okotoks Seniors Club and volunteered on the town’s seniors’ transportation committee for many years, advocating for seniors’ issues. He loved history and enjoyed sharing his stories, especially his memories of the original Big Rock School. He always had a twinkle in his eye.

Doug passed away Dec. 20, 2004 at the age of 91 years.

Frank Carr

Frank Carr was born and raised on the family farm west of Okotoks. He was the son of Herb and Henrietta Carr who were early homesteaders of the area. Frank joined the air force in 1941 and received his pilot's wings at Macleod. After two weeks in England, he was transferred to Egypt for training. In early 1943, Frank's parents received a letter from RCAF Casualties Officer Milton Foss: "The Blenheim Aircraft of which your son was pilot crashed 150 yards south of Nakuru, Kenya Colony.” Frank was 27. He is buried at the Nakuru North Cemetery in Kenya.  

Winnifred Carr

Winnifred Carr devoted her life to serving the community. She was a founding member of the Okotoks Royal Purple, serving as a member for over 50 years. She also served on the Okotoks School Board, Nursing Board, and was a member of the Women's Auxiliary of the Okotoks Legion. 

During World War II, Winne worked in a munitions factory in Ontario while her husband Colby served overseas. In a letter home to Okotoks on October 23, 1942, she wrote: "I operate a machine for the making of certain parts of anti-aircraft guns and am enjoying my work very much as well as the satisfactory feeling it gives one by doing something really necessary towards the ending of the war."

Winnie was named Okotoks Citizen of the Year in 1979. 

Chris Cederstrand

Chris Cederstrand is an athlete, volunteer MD firefighter, husband, father and motivational speaker. He is an inspiration and role model to everyone who has met him. His story is one of courage, strength and stick-to-itiveness that encourages others to never give up. Chris grew up playing hockey and played several seasons with the Red Deer Rebels and Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. In 2004 Chris went to fire school in Vermillion and graduated at the top of his class with a promising future ahead. While waiting and interviewing for firefighter positions, Chris took a job working road construction. A workplace accident resulted in the amputation of his leg above the knee which changed his life completely. In 2011, Chris started to play sledge hockey with the Calgary Scorpions. Within months he was picked up by Team Canada's development program where he worked hard to challenge himself, his skill, and push his abilities to the absolute maximum. In 2014 he became captain of the development team (was the first alternative for the 2014 Sochi Olympics) and made the men’s National Team in the fall of 2014. He earned a silver medal at the 2015 World Championships. Thanks to the generosity of the community, Chris was able to purchase a $100,000 prosthetic leg that allowed him to pursue his dream of being a firefighter and become more actively involved in the lives of his children. He believes in giving back to the community through charity events and public speaking opportunities. Chris used his personal story and perseverance to start the Cederstrand Foundation which supports kids who face physical barriers get back into sport. He is also a Sports Ambassador for KidsSport Calgary and this past year was named one of Shaw Canada’s 150 Outstanding Canadians.

Stephen Clark

Stephen Clark served on Okotoks Council for six years as a councillor and during that time lobbied for and achieved significant, ground breaking bylaws. He championed the smoke-free vehicle bylaw which the town received provincial and national attention and was awarded the Cancer Society’s Iron Lung award. Stephen also helped enact the responsible pet owners’ bylaw and was instrumental in the development of the Birth of a Nation Day and the Okotoks Hall of Fame, among other town projects.  His support for the community is extensive, serving twice as president of the Okotoks Rotary Club and serving as a community member on the economic development committee and the Calgary Regional Partnership prior to being elected to council.  He has also fostered 23 children. In addition, Stephen is widely respected as a business leader, serving as the CFO of one of Alberta’s largest companies, Mullen Group Ltd. He was also instrumental in relocating Mullen Group to Okotoks.

Marg Cox

Marg Cox has devoted over three decades to bringing the Okotoks community together, whether it was organizing events in her role as the town's community events coordinator or as a volunteer and supporter of numerous clubs, organizations, and charities. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find an organization that hasn't benefited in some way from the work that Marg has done or is doing for the town.

Marg worked for the Town of Okotoks for 28 years, first as the town's recreation programmer, recreation centre manager, client services and then events coordinator. She spearheaded many community events which have become embedded into Okotoks' culture including Light Up Okotoks and the Okotoks Parade. She went so far above and beyond her normal job to foster community pride by organizing Canada Day celebrations, the Okotoks Rodeo, Birth of a Nation Day, Kite Day, and the Old-Fashioned Country Fair to name only a few.

A highlight for the town and for Marg was the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. She was instrumental in bringing the Soviet figure skating team to Okotoks to practice prior to the Winter Olympics in Calgary. 

Her support for the community runs deep. Marg has served as president of the Foothills Country Hospice Society, is a founding member of the Foothills Ladies Compassion Cup and is a huge supporter of such organizations as KidSport, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Okotoks Oilers, Make a Wish Foundation, and Terry Fox Foundation, among many others. She continues to be the town's greatest ambassador. She's everywhere! You see her volunteering at the annual Show and Shine, walking in the Terry Fox Run, participating in a charity bowl-a-thon, and helping to organize events such as the 2016 Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling Masters.

Marg's willingness to get involved and to champion local causes is unparalleled. And she does everything with gusto. No wonder she's won the Western Wheel's Readers' Choice Award for 'Most Beloved Citizen' ever since it started. 

Robert Davies

Robert (Bob) Davies was raised in Okotoks and joined the air force in 1942 right after high school. He trained at Regina and Brandon where he graduated in October, 1943 as a sergeant. He was then posted overseas with 420 Squadron. On Aug. 17, 1944, his Halifax bomber was shot down and crashed into the North Sea; he was declared missing and presumed dead. Bob was 20 years old. The Okotoks Review reported the sad news that “P.O. Bob Davies, pilot of a bomber, was reported missing over enemy territory on Aug. 17, 1944. It was believed to be only his second operation flight.” Bob’s name is among those inscribed at the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey, England. This memorial commemorates 20,000 airmen who lost their lives in World War II, but who have no known graves. 

Arthur Dixon

Arthur Dixon grew up in Okotoks, son of John and Margaret Dixon. Following service in World War II, he was drawn to politics and public service. In 1952 he was elected as a member of the Alberta Legislature representing the provincial Social Credit Party. Art served as an MLA in Calgary for over 23 years. In 1963 he was elected the seventh Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly and held this position until the defeat of the government in 1972. Art was a member of numerous volunteer and service organizations and also volunteered as a Citizenship Court Judge welcoming new Canadians and awarding them their citizenship certificates.

In 1979 Art was appointed to the Order of Canada and received the Medal of Canada in recognition of his contributions to the province of Alberta. He also received the Alberta Achievement Award in recognition of his community service. 

Mary and Stuart Donaldson

Mary and Stuart Donaldson are long-time residents of Okotoks who have each contributed to the quality of life in unique ways. They've billeted hockey players, served as foster parents, and have inspired students and athletes. In 2011, Mary was named Okotoks Citizen of the Year for her commitment to Okotoks. She was a teacher at Big Rock School for 28 years, actively involved in promoting literacy through the annual Young Authors' Conference. She also actively volunteers in the community including many years with the annual Highland Games. This past year, Mary was a recipient of the Canada 150 medal presented by MP John Barlow. 

Dr. Stuart Donaldson served nine years as an Okotoks town councillor, from 1977 until 1986. He is a well-respected psychologist and a leader in the field of biofeedback. He has published a number of articles in respected journals and in 1995 was awarded the American Journal of Pain Management's award for the outstanding Contribution to the Interdisciplinary Pain Management Literature for that year. He's assisted people from all walks of life; from professional athletes to local hockey players.

David Downey

D. J. (David) Downey served a two-year term as mayor in 1916- 1917. At the time, municipal elections were held in December and the term was for the calendar year. David and his wife Mary came to Okotoks in 1906 from Ontario. He operated a men's wear and shoe store in Okotoks until 1941. Mr. Downey died in 1946. The Downey subdivision in Okotoks is named after him.

Linda Duncan

Linda Duncan has volunteered with 1st Okotoks Scouts for almost 18 years. She has served as the organization’s commissioner for many years, and is responsible for recruiting and training leaders and ensuring they provide quality programs for the 150-plus youth registered in the organization. In recognition of her long-term commitment to Scouts, Linda was awarded the Heart of Okotoks Award in 2014 and was also a recipient of the Canada 150 Medal issued by MP John Barlow earlier this year.

Kenn Eastlick

Kenn Eastlick devoted  his life to public education. Kenn's passion for learning and his love of sports impacted the lives of hundreds of students, first at Tofield, AB and then at Okotoks where  he served as principal of Okotoks Jr.Sr. High School from 1974-1985. As a teacher, sports coach, and principal, Kenn led by example, demonstrating integrity, responsibility, work ethic, and quiet pride. Hi commitment to students was unparalleled; his interest in their wellbeing was genuine. He also believed that sound academics combined with strong athletics provided a foundation for life. Kenn developed a love of basketball as a  youth, and then coached basketball throughout his teaching career. He tirelessly gave of his time to mentor players and coaches alike, instilling the importance of effort and teamwork. Even after his retirement, Kenn remained a fan of the game and was often found in the stands at both the Ocelots' and Falcons' games. In later years, Kenn was an anonymous snow angel, often shovelling snow from seniors' sidewalks during his daily walks around town. 

Kenn passed away on November 15, 2016. 

Davis Edels

Davis Edels’ contribution to the Okotoks community is unparalleled. Hundreds of organizations, sports teams and events in the Okotoks area have benefitted from the generous support shown by Davis over his 25-plus years as a resident and business owner in Okotoks.

He volunteered to drive the Soviet figure skaters to and from their practices in Okotoks during the 1988 Winter Olympics. He was instrumental in developing such community initiatives as the rib cook-off, soap box derby and the construction of the Foothills Centennial Centre. He is a charter member of the Okotoks Rotary Club and has also served as a board member of Community Futures Highwood and the Okotoks and District Chamber of Commerce.

Davis has been a long-term supporter of numerous charities in the Okotoks area including Rowan House Women’s Shelter, Sheep River Health Trust and the Foothills Country Hospice. His has demonstrated unwavering support for dozens of minor sports teams in the region and has contributed to the success of many community events such as the Alberta Summer Games, Okotoks Show and Shine and the Okotoks Rodeo, among others.

Richard Ellum

Richard Ellum participated in the first Sheep River Road Race 39 years ago and served on the organizing committee for many years while often winning his age group in the event. He has mentored and inspired hundreds of athletes -- as the coach, assistant coach and president of the Okotoks Track Club, cross-country coach at the Foothills Composite High School, and as an accomplished athlete. One of the highlights is when he qualified for and finished the 2008 Boston Marathon. Richard also founded the annual Okotoks Cross-Country Race which is now held at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School. As a long-time member of the Big Rock Runners, he shares his knowledge and love of running with other athletes, including the next generation of runners. He provides fieldhouse training sessions for school-aged cross-country athletes, helping them to improve their technique and running times. He sponsors an annual cross-country award for the top athlete at the Foothills Composite, where he worked for many years as the building construction teacher. Richard is member of the Okotoks Men’s Chorus and a board member of the Sheep River Health Trust.

Marilyn Evans

Marilyn Evans' warmth and compassion has been felt by residents throughout the Foothills. Marilyn served as the United Church minister in Okotoks and Dewinton from 1989 to 2000. She was also one of hte founding board members for the Foothills Country Hospice. During her time as minister, the Okotoks Jacket Racket was established, which helped provide winter clothes to those in need. Also under her charge, the United Church started the tradition of holding Easter sunrise services at the Big Rock. In 2000, Marilyn went on to serve as a chaplain in Calgary for 12 years, working with residents in hospices and long-term care facilities.

In 2012 she returned to the Foothills to be minister of Lewis Memorial United Church in Turner Valley. Also in 2012, Marilyn and her husband Craig travelled to Africa for a two-week volunteer mission to help communities in Kenya and South Sudan. 

Frank Fennessey

James Francis “Frank” Fennessey, son of Albert and Mary Fennessey, reported for duty with the Royal Canadian Air Force in December, 1941. He served as Flying Officer with the 429 Squadron. Frank was killed April 23, 1944. He was 24. Frank is buried in the Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery in Noord-Brabant, Netherlands.

Gerri Fields

Gerri Fields moved to Okotoks in 1977 and immediately began volunteering her time to help establish the town’s first public library. She was appointed to the library board in 1978 and went on to serve as its long-time chairman.  During her tenure she oversaw the expansion of the library and the move to its second location on McRae Street.

Gerri was also instrumental in the creation of the town’s first cultural centre in the former CP train station, which opened in 1981.

Along with her husband, Gerri helped secure a charter for Little League Baseball and brought the organization to Okotoks for the first time in the town’s history. She continued to work behind the scenes creating team schedules and organizing training for umpires and scorekeepers. 

As a result of her tireless dedication to these Okotoks projects, Gerri was named “Okotoks Citizen of the Year” in 1984.   

Frank Fisher

Frank Fisher was born Oct. 22, 1892, the son of William Sr. and Mary Anne Fisher of Okotoks. Raised and schooled in Okotoks, Frank was employed at the Union Bank and had been transferred to a bank in Edmonton just prior to his enlistment in World War I. Frank enlisted June 16, 1915 and received training as a signaler. He served with the 2nd Rifles of the 50th Battalion. Pte. Fisher was killed July 29, 1916 by a shell landing in the dugout where he was on telephone duty. He was 23. Pte. Fisher is buried at Woods Cemetery in Belgium. 

William Fisher

William Fisher served two one-year terms as mayor in 1907 and 1908. William was born in Ontario and came to Okotoks in 1902 where he worked for the Lineham Lumber Company. He later established a general store on the southwest corner of Elizabeth Street and Centre Ave until the mid-1920s after which he operated a lumber and coal yard further east on McRae Street. He also handled insurance. William was also a founding member of the Okotoks Masonic Lodge. William Fisher died in 1948. Fisher Street and Fisher Crescent in the Okotoks Business Park are named after him. 

Bill Flett

Bill 'Cowboy' Flett, a product of Okotoks minor hockey, started his hockey career with the Melville Millionaires in 1962 at the age of 17, and was named to the league's All-Star team in his rookie season. When the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams in 1967, Flett was drafted as a right winger by the Los Angeles Kings. In 1972 he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he had his career-best season, scoring 43 goals. The following season, he was part of the Flyers' 1974 Stanley Cup Champion team. He then played with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Atlanta Flames before being traded in 1976 to the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA. In 1979, the same year the Oilers joined the NHL, Flett retired part way through the season after suffering multiple broken ribs. He continued his involvement with the Oilers as a scout and playing in old timers' hockey games in support of numerous charities. Over the course of his 13-year career with the NHL, Flett scored over 200 goals and became famous for his distinctive beard. 

John Fraser

John Fraser has volunteered his time and talents to the Okotoks community for over 40 years.  John’s involvement with the town dates back to the mid-70s when he served as the town’s parks and recreation director. He was among the tireless volunteers who served on the Okotoks Triplex Committee which resulted in the Okotoks Recreation Centre. More recently, John has been the driving force behind the annual Acoustic Christmas Concert, a two-night concert in support of the Okotoks Food Bank. It is celebrating its 11th season in 2017. John is widely respected professionally. In 1976 John started a career in real estate which now spans five decades. He served as president of the Calgary Real Estate Board, served on both the Alberta and Canadian Real Estate Associations and has earned numerous industry awards including Realtor of the Year in 1996 and top Royal LePage Commercial Realtor in Canada in 2015. In 2017, John was awarded the Canada 150 medal from Foothills MP John Barlow for his contributions to the Okotoks community.

Wayne Gaudet

Wayne Gaudet, a long-time member of the Big Rock Runners, has participated in numerous marathons and ultramarathons locally and abroad, including the Boston Marathon. He has also competed in multiple 24-hour runs and continuously shatters Canadian records. Some of his accomplishments include: In 2011, he was the top Canadian to finish, placing 17th overall, at the Commonwealth Ultramarathon Championships in Wales. The following year, he set the Canadian record for men over 55 years of age at the 24-hour World Championships in Poland, running 218.52 km. This shattered the previous record of 206.23 km, which he had set at the 2011 Commonwealth Championships. His record finish placed him 48th overall and first out of the Canadians. At the 2012 World Championships he also set a Canadian record (without an attached age group) for the quickest 100 miles (160 km) with a time of 15 hours and 56 minutes. In 2015, Gaudet competed again in the 24-hour World Championships, finishing 96th out of 179 runners with a distance of 196.22 km. In July of 2017 Gaudet was the top runner in the men’s 60+ division and 64th among all males at the IAU 24-hour World Championships in Belfast, Ireland with a distance of 214.7 km, setting a new Canadian record for men over 60. Long may you run, Wayne.

Dr. Janet Gibson

Dr. Janet Gibson and her family came to Okotoks in 1955. Originally from Scotland, Janet and her husband Morris were practicing medicine in Yorkshire, England when they decided to move to Canada. Much is known about her doctor-author husband, however, Dr. Janet had an equally significant impact on Okotoks. In fact, when the Gibsons were debating what town to Alberta to move to, it was Janet who said: "Let's make it Okotoks. It's got two Oks in it, so it's OK with me."

The Gibsons practiced medicine in Okotoks until 1971. Dr. Janet also served as president of the local Red Cross Association and Parent-Teachers' Association. She and her husband co-founded the Okotoks Horse Show which continues to be an annual tradition and will be marking its 60th anniversary this fall. 

Prior to moving to Canada, Dr. Janet served in World War II as a house surgeon, physician and anaesthetist. 

Dr. Morris Gibson

Dr. Morris Gibson, originally from Scotland, served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War II, later practicing in Yorkshire, England before he and his family moved to Okotoks in 1955. 

Dr. Gibson and his wife Janet practiced medicine, first from their home in Okotoks, and then in a former one-room schoolhouse that had been moved from the country into town. He established the Sheep Creek Medical Clinic in 1970. A believer in lifelong learning, Dr. Gibson served for 10 years as a trustee on the school board. In 1971 he was appointed professor and head, Division of Family Medicine at the University of Calgary School of Medicine. 

After retiring to British Columbia, Dr. Gibson wrote three books: "One Man's Medicine," "A Doctor in the West," and "Doctor at Large," which recounted his years as a country doctor in Alberta. An elementary school in Okotoks is named after him. 

Dave Gilbert

Dave Gilbert has owned the Okotoks Sobeys store since 2004, following in the footsteps of his father Don. And, also like his father, Dave believes in the philosophy of giving back to the community.

Dave and his wife JoAnn selflessly contribute to the Okotoks community in countless ways. They are often the first to support any club, team, organization, event or charitable cause within Okotoks and district.  Dave has been heavily involved with the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce, Okotoks Food Bank, Foothills Country Hospice and Okotoks United Way, among many others. Their Sobey’s gift card program has invested thousands of dollars into local schools.

Dave has enjoyed a life-long involvement with hockey, as a player and coach. He also serves as a board member with the Okotoks Jr. A. Oilers.

Dave is also highly regarded in the grocery industry and is the past president of the Independent Retail Grocers Association. He and his Sobeys team are perennial winners of numerous Readers’ Choice Awards through the Western Wheel. 

Don Gilbert

Don Gilbert is the epitome of a community builder. Don has been quietly contributing to the community for over 40 years, ever since he and his family moved to Okotoks in the mid-70s to establish a grocery business. He was named Okotoks Citizen of the Year in 1990-91 for his endless sponsorship and support of local schools, clubs, teams, and community events. In fact, just about every organization in Okotoks has benefited from Don and his grocery stores over the years (B & G Thriftway, Okotoks IGA and Sobeys). Don has also been a strong supporter and volunteer of the Okotoks Oilers Junior A Oilers, however, his involvement with the Oilers dates back even further to when he coached the Okotoks Oilers senior men’s team. Over the years, he also played baseball and hockey, served as president of the Foothills Falcons Football Club, and was also active in the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce, and police commission among others. Earlier this year, Don and his wife Rae were recognized with a Canada 150 Medal from Foothills MP John Barlow for their selfless commitment to the community. 

Mary Gillard

Mary Gillard taught generations of Okotoks residents over the course of her 65-year teaching career. Originally from Coronation, AB., Mary became a teacher at the age of 17 in the Peace River country. In the 1960s, she and her husband Hugh moved to the Okotoks area where she continued to teach. She first taught Grade 9 at Okotoks Junior High School and then became a much-loved substitute teacher in Okotoks for the next 40-plus years, subbing well into her 80s. Mary firmly believed that if you show respect for students, they will respect you. The library at the Foothills Composite High School was renamed the Mary Gillard Learning Commons in 2013. Her community involvement also included the Order of the Eastern Star, Calgary Stampede Board, and curling, among others. 

Roland Gissing

“If you ever see a painting so truly beautiful that it makes you feel proud and perhaps a little homesick for the Alberta foothills, it’s probably a Gissing landscape.” - (rolandgissing.com). Roland Gissing was one of Western Canada’s most prolific artists and was renowned for his realistic portrayal of the western landscape. Born in England in 1895, Roland arrived in Canada in 1913 and lived in Calgary and Cochrane before moving to an acreage near Okotoks in 1957. Gissing opened his first major exhibition of oils at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede in 1934 to critical acclaim. Further one-man shows were held in 1947 and 1960. He also received praise for his series on the history and development of the oil industry in Alberta. Many of his paintings were special presentations commissioned by civic and provincial organizations as gifts to notable visitors including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. In addition to painting, Roland had a passion for model trains and developed a model railway track at the back of his house at Okotoks. Roland passed away at his Okotoks acreage in 1967 at the age of 72.

Harvey Gordanier

Harvey Gordanier was born in Edmonton and, following the deaths of his parents, he and two siblings came to Okotoks to be raised by the W.H. Jenkins family. During World War II,Harvey served with the 1st Radar Battery of Royal Canadian Artillery. This was a small unit whose role was to detect enemy mortar fire. Sgt. Gordanier was wounded March 10, 1945 when he and his troop commander's Jeep ran over a mine while on recce in the area of Veen, clearing the way to the Rhine.

He died of his injuries on March 13, 1945 at the age of 30. Harvey is buried in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in Gelderland, Netherlands.

John Gould

One of the unsung heroes of Okotoks in the early days was John Gould. He moved to Okotoks in the 1920s and began working for the Town of Okotoks. Among his responsibilities was shoveling snow from the town’s streets and sidewalks – by hand – early in the morning while the rest of the town slept.  He, along with Lloyd Birkett, were also responsible for heating tar and filling holes in the streets. John also made the natural ice for the skating and curling rinks and kept them clean before and during hockey and curling games. John is an example of a difference maker, quietly working behind the scenes, for the benefit of the community. John passed away in 1971. (Also in the photo is John’s wife Hattie).

Jim Graham

Jim Graham loved the great outdoors and enjoyed hunting, fishing, and travelling. He was a long-time member of the Okotoks Fish and Game Association, serving five years as its president. He was involved in a wide range of wildlife conservation projects in the Okotoks area including Buck for Wildlife, goose nesting and tree planting, and he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others, especially young children. Jim was honoured with a special award by Alberta Fish and Wildlife in 1994 at which time Jim said: "When I drive into Okotoks and see a flock of geese fly overhead...I think to myself I had something to do with that."

Jim Graham Park, located on the southeast ege of Okotoks, is named in his honour. The park, owned by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD), is a natural habitat encompassing almost 30 acres. 

Jim had also served with the air force during World War II and went on to enjoy a 33-year career with Imperial Oil Limited. Jim passed away in 2001 at the age of 88 years. 

Gord Grams

Often teachers never realize the impact they've made on the lives of their students. According to past students, Gord Grams is one teacher who made a huge, indelible mark in their lives. Gord taught and coached at Okotoks Junior High for 30 years. Seldom without a smile on his face, Mr. Grams treated students with respect and made learning -even math -fun. He cared about his students and their successes. It's no wonder Gord was a multiple winner of the Western Wheel's Readers' Choice Awards for best teacher in the Foothills. 

Former students share these words: "I don't think there is a student who went to school in Okotoks who isn't thankful that they had Mr. Grams as a teacher. Scary as hell sometimes but you couldn't find a teacher who cared more than him." "He was the best teacher ever! He demanded respect and believe me if you didn't give it to him there was trouble. He made class fun!" "He taught us how to respect and how to think...We should all be so fortunate to have a teacher in our lives such as Mr. Grams."

Bob Grisdale

Bob Grisdale came to Okotoks with his parents in 1911. He first worked for the Upper Lineham Ranch, where he helped break horses to be sold to the Canadian Army during World War I. Bob later owned and operated Okotoks Transport for 28 years, providing much-needed transportation services to local residents and businesses. Among his deliveries was milk from district farmers to Calgary dairies. Bob also drove truck for Royalite Oil Company from 1928 to 1953, first in Turner Valley and then in Leduc and Redwater. Bob believed in giving back to the community. He was a member of the Masonic and Elks lodges, the Okotoks United Church and he also served on the Okotoks School Board. Bob was a loyal supporter of the Okotoks Oilers in the early years, often providing transportation for the team to out-of-town games.

Grisdale Park in the Downey Ridge area is named after the Grisdale family.  

Andrew and Shari Gustafson

Andrew and Shari Gustafson won the Heart of Okotoks Leadership Award in 2015 for their dedication to making Okotoks a great community. The pair continue to be the epitome of community boosters and builders in Okotoks. Andrew is the current president of the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce and board chair of the Sheep River Health Trust. Shari has chaired KidSport Okotoks since its re-launch in 2014. They have both been heavily involved in minor sports in Okotoks, particularly basketball and soccer. The Gustafsons have been small-business owners in Okotoks for over 10 years, operating Natural High Fitness which supports numerous organizations and events in Okotoks. One such event is the annual triathlon to benefit KidSport Okotoks which provides opportunities for youth to experience the benefits of organized sports.

Charles Halstead

Charles Halstead moved to Okotoks in 1937 and enlisted with the 14th Calgary Tank Regiment in 1941. He spent over 4.5 years on active service overseas, during which time he attained the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major and was awarded the Military Medal in March 1944 for his courage and initiative. Charlie later served on Okotoks Council from 1968-74 and was a member of the volunteer fire department for many years, including several years as fire chief. 

Dr. Jim Hansen

Dr. Jim Hansen retired this April after working for 40-plus years in the field of medicine. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, he graduated from Medical School at the University of Calgary in 1975 and completed his Internal Medicine and Cardiology fellowship in 1986. Jim has worked as an intervention cardiologist for many years. Jim has also worked with Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR) in Uganda and Malawi and done some international work in India, Syria, and Trinidad. 

Closer to home, Jim and his family's contributions to Okotoks and district have been profound. The Hansens donated the property where the Foothills Country Hospice is located. Jim is a founding member of the Foothills Country Hospice Society and was an active member of the board in its early days. These generous gifts, of both property and time, have impacted the lives of hundreds of families and their loved ones. In addition, Jim served on the Okotoks Recreation Board for many years and volunteered during the Alberta Summer Games.

Retirement will not slow him down. He plans to contribute to the teaching aspect of medicine as well as continue his passion for sports including cycling, mountain climbing, 55-plus hockey, running, baseball, and keeping up with his grandchildren. 

Edwin Hayes

Edwin Hayes was born in New Brunswick in 1862 and came west by working on the construction of the railroad. Ed joined the Steele Scouts in 1885, and following the Riel Rebellion he took scrip land between Okotoks and Dewinton in lieu of pay. He served as secretary-treasurer of the Municipal District of Sheep Creek for 40 years before it was amalgamated into the MD of Foothills. He was a founding member of both the Sheep River (later renamed Okotoks) Agricultural Society and the Okotoks branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Edwin was the recipient of the Coronation Medal issued by King George for service to his community and country. 

William Stewart Herron

William Stewart Herron has been referred to as the “Father of Alberta’s Petroleum Industry.” He was born in Gelert, Ontario, in 1870 and in 1905, Herron and his wife moved to Alberta and bought a ranch in the Okotoks area. To supplement the ranch income, he started a freight and cartage business in Okotoks, mainly hauling wagonloads of coal from Black Diamond, which he sold to area ranchers and to people in Okotoks. It was while waiting for coal to be loaded that he discovered a natural gas seep coming from the banks of Sheep River. After confirming the quality of the gas, he engaged several investors, including A. E. Cross, Senator James Lougheed, Richard B. Bennett and A. W. Dingman, to incorporate a gas drilling and marketing company, Calgary Petroleum Products. When the word spread about Herron’s business activities, the first land rush in Turner Valley began. Herron passed away in 1939.

Victor Hessel

Victor Hessel served on council 18 years of the 23 years he lived in Okotoks. He moved to Okotoks in 1919 and purchased the drug store located in the Stockton Block on McRae Street. In addition to serving several terms as a councillor, Victor served two terms as mayor in 1922 and 1942-43. He worked tirelessly to support local business and was responsible for reviving the Okotoks Board of Trade, serving as its secretary for 10 years. One of the community projects he initiated was tree planting programs on the boulevards and public places in town. He was a compassionate businessman, and created a fund to provide meals for drifters during the depression. Victor was also well respected in his industry. He established the first office of the Alberta Pharmaceutical Association, which was located in Okotoks. He moved to Toronto in 1943 when he became head of the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association. 

Murray Hicks

Murray Hicks was born and raised in Okotoks. He enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 and went overseas in February, 1942. He flew with No. 50 RAF Squadron as flying officer/air gunner. In a letter home to his father in October, 1942 he wrote: "I am on Britain's best and newest bomber and our pilot is a wizard...and you probably know that our squadron has the best record in England in every way." Murray was reported missing on June 13, 1943 while on his 30th mission. Upon completion of that flight, Murray was to have been posted as an instructor. He was 36. He is buried in Overijssel, Netherlands. 

Dr. Grant Hill

Dr. Grant Hill has served the Okotoks community for over 45 years in a variety of capacities. He was born in Montreal and raised in the west, graduating from medical school at the University of Alberta in 1968. Dr. Hill moved to Okotoks in 1970 and established a medical practice that served the Okotoks community until 1993. During that time, he also served as Chief of Staff of the High River Hospital from 1986 to 1990. 

But it wasn't all medicine. Dr. Hill and his wife Sue established the Okotoks Collector Car Auction in 1975 which is now the longest running auction of its kind in Canada. Dr. Hill also took an active role in politics. He served one term on Okotoks Town Council from 1974 to 1977. In 1993, he was elected as a Member of Parliament to represent the federal riding of Macleod. Dr. Hill served as the Opposition Health Critic for five years and as Deputy Leader for two years. He was Interim Leader of the new Conservative Party of Canada in 2004. During this time Dr. Hil became a member of the Privy Council of Canada.

Dr. Hill returned to medicine in 2005 and retired in 2013. A park in the Westmount subdivision is named in his honour. 

Sam Hodson

Sam Hodson, originally from Ireland, came to Okotoks in 1906 and purchased the Okotoks Review from Charles Clark Sr. Sam served as publisher of the Okotoks Review for 41 years, recording our town's history as it happened. Sam was also active in municipal politics for 30 years, five of which were as mayor (1937-1941). He was a life-long member of the Masons, founder of the Alberta Grand Lodge in 1905 and the Okotoks Corinthian Lodge in 1906, and was a member of the Okotoks Elk Lodge. Sam showed  profound kindness to many in the community, particularly during the Depression. He delighted in giving coloured paper to children, gifts to local brides, and shoes to needy youngsters. 

Sam passed away in 1961.

Bill Holder

Former Okotoks resident Bill Holder is a nationally and internationally acclaimed wildlife artist who grew up in Calgary and attended the Alberta College of Art.

His finely detailed watercolours have repeatedly brought him international recognition for his knowledge and depiction of the natural world. His work is noted for meticulous accuracy and testimony to the artist’s keen observation in the field.

Bill has been included in numerous exhibitions with the Foundation for North American Big Game (Calgary) and the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (Honolulu, San Diego and Phoenix). Bill has been a frequent contributor to conservation organizations including Safari Club International and Ducks Unlimited His paintings can be found in collections around the world. Nineteen pieces of his work are included in the Town of Okotoks public art collection, most of which are located in meeting rooms and hallways at the Okotoks Municipal Centre.

Ted Howard

Terrance "Ted" Howard, born in Pakistan in 1882, came to Alberta in 1901 following service in the Boer War when just a teen. He homesteaded near Blackie and then worked as a ranch hand for W.D. Lineham on the lower ranch southwest of Okotoks. He served in World War I in the 82nd Battalion. He returned to Okotoks where he married Mary Wilson who was matron at the High River Hospital. From 1917 to 1937 he served as forest ranger at the Elbow River Ranger Station, where he was responsible for preserving and protecting the forest reserve. After retiring from the forestry service, Ted and Mary bought 40 acres of land on the south side of the river where the Woodhaven subdivision is now located. Their home became a haven for orphaned animals. Ted died in 1962 and Mary in 1969. Howard Park in the Woodhaven subdivision is named after him. Mount Howard, located in the Kananaskis at the head of Nihahi Creek and Canyon Creek, is also named after Ted in recognition of his 20 years of service as a forest ranger. 

Stylized maple leaf with Canada 150 underneath
Okotoks Museum & Archives
Sun - Tue: Closed
Wed - Sat: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
Open Tuesdays by appointment only.