I love this story about the stone house that was restored by a landowner who cares deeply about history and heritage. This story first appeared in Memories and Milestones 1905-2005. It was written and submitted by Ed Carson, the man responsible for the painstaking restoration of this sturdy old building. Thank you, Ed!
Darryl and Karen Carson added additional information to this piece, as well, including descriptions of the house and a bit about the folks who lived in it over the years. Thanks Darryl and Karen!
Photographer Coinoath Sarsfield contributed the night photo of the Stone House to the Amisk-Hughenden Historical Society website and we really appreciate it! Coinoath (Ken) is an outdoor educator with Eastern Slopes Adventure Company.
In 1906 the town of Amisk was surveyed and the streets were named by Charlie Phipps, a stone mason from Ontario. In 1906 and 1907, Charlie built a stone house for his friend Herb Orok. It is located on NW22-40-8-W4, seven miles south and one mile west of Amisk.
In August of 2003, I started to restore the old stone house which hadn’t been lived in for forty years. The roof, shingles, windows and doors were replaced and the interior was cleaned and painted. Visitors are welcome to come and look around and sign the guest book. ~ Ed Carson
The exterior dimensions are roughly 17X28 feet. The 16- inch thick walls rise to a height of eight and one-half feet and are constructed of field stone held together with mortar. The stone walls are topped by a hip-style roof. The entire roof, including gable ends, is covered with cedar shingles.
Because of the thickness of the walls, the interior space is diminished significantly and the window ledges are deep. The main floor is divided into two rooms, one of which would obviously have been a kitchen containing a miniscule pantry/closet. The upstairs was partitioned in various configurations at different times depending on the requirements of the occupants. At present, it is one large room.
“It was the coldest place I ever lived.” ~ Oliver Peddicord, school teacher and boarder
Over the years a number of different families occupied the old stone house. Anecdotal evidence has it that Oliver Peddicord boarded there when he taught at Poplar Site School during the 1924-25 term and apparently proclaimed the building to be “the coldest place I ever lived.”
Stone House Residents
In the 1920’s the Woods family lived in the stone house. They had come to Alberta from the United States. Mary Woods later became Bill Stewart’s second wife.
During the mid-1930’s and early 1940’s, the H. Goodenough family called the stone house home. The eldest daughter, Lola, married Robert Lyon Jr. The younger daughters, Mildred and Lillian, are remembered attending Poplar Site School.
In 1942, the W 1/2 22-40-8-W4 on which the stone house is located was purchased under a tax consolidation agreement by Howard Carson [Ed’s father]. An agreement was negociated with Tom and Jessie (Riach) Brown in 1945, and they lived there with their son Lloyd. Following Tom’s death in 1960, the farm defaulted back to Howard and Edwin Carson. The old stone house has been vacant since that time and at this writing (2005), the stone house and the half section of land remain in the possession of Edwin and Mary Carson and family. ~ Darryl and Karen Carson
The following is a settler letter written by Herb Orok, the first resident of the stone house. This document was found by the contributing photographer to this stone house article, Coinoath Sarsfield, in the Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections of the University of Calgary.
Hughenden, Alberta – January 15, 1915
In regards to the settlement of the Hughenden district, I, as an early settler, have seen all the rapid improvements in every line. In 1906 the C.P.R. steel only came as far as a town named Daysland, 80 miles west of here, and a bunch of us sturdy lads from old Ontario who were not quite satisfied with what we had there, landed at this point (Daysland) and some with oxen and some on foot set out to seek for a place to start life anew, and kept coming east until we found a district that suited our taste, and we finally located within a radius of five miles from this point.
At that time there was nothing to break the monotony but the howling of the coyotes and the songs of the prairie chicken and the quacking of the wild ducks of which there were thousands, but we stuck to our claims and gradually with the aid of the faithful old oxen we managed to get considerable land ready for crop the following spring, and today out settlement is one of the best mixed farming districts between Saskatoon and Edmonton.
The stock can rustle outside all winter and in the summer there is abundance of wild grass and plenty of fresh water for the range stock. Now in place of the unbroken prairie that met one’s eye nine years ago, there are prosperous farms with good buildings and countless herds of choice cattle and horses rambling around, making their owners rich. Cattle that could be purchased for $25 in the early days bring $75 and even as high as $100 per head. The majority of those who stuck to their claims and were at all industrious are wealthy today and have purchased C.P.R. land under the easy payment plan, and find it no trouble to handle the contract.
It really is wonderful to one who has been present all these years of rapid advancement to see the great changes that have taken place. The old ox cart has given way in many cases to the modern motor car, and the old fashioned clothes that as the saying was, “It’s good enough for the homesteader,” have also had to take a back seat; and now one doesn’t have to go to the city to see the latest styles, etc. They are always here. In conclusion, I will way that I, for one, will never regret the day that I decided to make the Hughenden district my home and feel sure that there are still the same chances of any one that is fortunate enough to get located here.
(Sgd.) H. A. Orok