Small Communities in the County of Two Hills
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Every district has its legends and the one that lingers around the Derwent district concerns an old Metis whose name was Monkman. According to the story, in the days of the Rebellion in 1885, Monkman, under his former name was the private secretary of the fabulous character who led the Metis in Western Canada, Louis Riel. When Riel was tried and hanged, his followers headed for the bush country. Monkman's group settled around the Deadman Lakes where he guided this colony until he died in 1912.
This first settlement in the Derwent district was called Pigues. In 1928 the Canadian Pacific Railway put its branch line through and a town site was laid out on the railway very near the place where the old Pigues settlement had been. Because the selection of a suitable name for the new town resulted in a squabble, Mr. Gustav Algot, who had taken a leading part in the founding of the town, wrote to the railway company and told them to choose a name for themselves. So it was that a letter came back in reply with the suggestion "Derwent" probably referring to the place in the lake country of England.
Came into being when the C.P.R. track went through in 1927. Population both in the hamlet and surrounding district has greatly decreased in the last 25 years. A large area of marginal farmland North of Beauvallon purchased by the Provincial Government and the Rannock Community pasture formed, resulting in many farm families moving out of the district. The community, though small in number, is very large in community work and spirit. In the last few years, the Community Hall has been expanded, redecorated, water works installed and the hall maintained in A-1 shape.
Duvernay is located on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, approximately 9 miles North of Two Hills on Highway #36. The hamlet settled by a French community, was subdivided in 1905 by Mathias Theraux and named after Ludgar Duvernay, a missionary settled in the area at that time. The ferry crossing at Duvernay was an important passage to gain access to communities to the North and therefore boasted of several stores, liveries, black-smith shops and hotels, who service the weary travelers. The first bridge was built in 1930 and was replaced with the third bridge in the late 70s. Duvernay suffered a diminish of population and business in 1927, when the C.P.R. spur was established in Two Hills, but several businesses remained and exist today. In 1955 with the establishment of the Two Hills chemical plant, again we gained population in employees who came to construct and operate the plant. Today, we have an established population who enjoy the panoramic views of the river valley and the peaceful atmosphere of the country living. We are a small, efficient and hospitable hamlet and because of the bridge we are still a main passage to serve tourism and industry with our bridge to Lakeland Country.
Situated across the river from Duvernay is the peaceful community of Brosseau. The development of Brosseau closely shadows the development in the 90's of Duvernay because of their proximity to this major river crossing. Before any of the Europeans arrived in this area of Canada, it was known as Matapeskuteweyak ( the prairie which comes out of the river). About a mile upstream (west) of the two communities was a shallow in the river that was used for thousands of years by the original inhabitants of this territory who were of Chipewyan and Blackfoot decent. The high concentration of travelers in the area was one of the main reasons that this site was chosen for a mission by the late Father Lacombe. The missionary had come to the region in 1864 to introduce the Metis and First Nations Peoples to the European concepts of agriculture and religion. The region was renamed St. Paul des Cris by Lacombe and was an important stop for many of the missionaries, fur traders and homesteaders traveling in the area. The final name change came in the early 1900's and was named after the first homesteader Edmond Brosseau who still has descendents living in the immediate area. Today a historical monument sits on the north bank of the river in remembrance of the late father and his contributions to the people and the area.
The name of this small Alberta community goes back to the history of yesterday. The buffalo used to sun themselves in the early summer on these picturesque hills and had rubbing wallows where large amounts of hair would accumulate. Hence the name Hairy Hill. The original town site was located two miles south of its present location and was relocated in the early 1900's when the railway was laid.
Coming further down the stream of time in the 1920s a Romanian community developed here. A Hwy marker will tell you all about the community and we invite you to stop and read it. It is situated on the Hwy 45 just West of Hairy Hill, about 2 miles. Even though today the population is under 100 the town still houses the basic amenities like a post office, antique shop/grocery store and local volunteer fire department. The community also plays host to a LRA (Lakeland Rodeo Association) rodeo every mid July, which includes a Saturday night, live entertainment dance along with a Sunday morning pancake breakfast.
The community is also in close proximity to one of northern Alberta's Largest Feedlots as well as an ever expanding Hutterite Colony, both located south west of the Hamlet. The Alberta Pool recently purchased a fertilizer plant 2 miles west of the town site, which provides needed agricultural products to the farmers in the area. Both the Feedlot and Pool provide seasonal and fulltime employment opportunities to the residents of the area.
These two small hamlets east of Two Hills on Hwy 45 were once major centers that at one time boasted populations of over 100 residents. The CPR rail line passed through the communities in 1927 and served as a catalyst for growth over the next 20 years. Grain elevators, post offices and pool halls were just a few of the businesses that thrived in these agricultural communities. Today the communities have seen their populations decrease and many of the fine structures sit vacant. Musidora's hall and church along with Morecambe's hall are still in use and are host to various dues and events. Today these agricultural centers serve as a reminder of the hard work and dedication that our forefathers exhibited earlier this century.
The village of Myrnam is located 184 kilometers northeast of the city of Edmonton on Highway 45. This fading community was once very prosperous. In its prime, Myrnam was a busy town which began prospering when the CPR decided to come through in 1927, at this time a town site was laid out. The end, and beginning, of an era came when on the 5th day of November 1927, the first locomotive steamed through the village. The village grew steadily in population and business services throughout the years, reaching its peak between 1951 and 1954. Myrnam today primarily serves the interests and daily needs of the immediate surrounding rural area. Besides being an agricultural centre, it has religious, educational, medical, recreational, social and business services.