Tim Axe hopes to refurbish and relocate a Stavelock home to Clandonald Fairgrounds and initiate the Clandonald Cultural Centre.
An immigrant himself, Axe hopes to notify locals and visitors of the rich, European heritage of the hamlet, and give the community an added reason to flourish.
“I want people here to know they are part of something a lot bigger than they could even imagine,” said Axe.
“In 2020, Clandonald suffers in a sense the same way as all the hamlets of western Canada with populations dropping off. My desire is to keep a source for people that want to come and learn about the history and sociological reality. You just don’t often have three cultures taken out of an area and plopped somewhere else.”
Studying his new home, Axe realized Clandonald sprang up during the land movement settlement during the 1920’s with immigrants specifically handpicked from Scotland, England, and northern Ireland.
An Edmonton priest put together the Scottish Immigrant Aid Society and with the help of Scottish bishops, relocated families from these European regions to Canada.
During that time, many Scottish families had lost their homes following 400 years of clearances. If someone was appointed English nobility they would have been given a Scottish island, and families were given only 24 hours to vacate their island after having lived there for generations.
“The last official clearance took place in 1940, and the whole process caused animosity among the English Protestants and Catholic Scottish because northern Ireland had been at war with the English, they were also open to moving and gaining some kind of freedom, democracy, and life,” said Axe.
The first people to come to Clandonald were from Scotland in 1924. They were fisherman and had no idea how to farm, so the priest sent them to farms near Edmonton and Red Deer for room and board to learn what it takes.
In 1926, another wave of immigrants came from England, Ireland and Scotland. Ten acres of land was plowed before they arrived and everyone received a quarter section of land.
The ones that had been taught about farming then came back to share their knowledge. The railway came to Clandonald in 1927 and brought in Stavelock homes for all of the new settlers.
Along with his wife, Maighread, who lived in the Stavelock home for the first five years of her life, Axe plans to refurbish and move it to the Fairgrounds where it will be right in the heart of the community and people can walk through to gain a better understanding of what the pioneers went through.
“The building is not in good shape, but it would be a shame if the youth didn’t have the opportunity to understand how Clandonald played a part on the world scene and still does,” said Axe.
He said the wood came green and warped, creating gaps in the walls for families to contend with. Challenges like these he figures would have been tough to deal with in the midst of a very cold winter.
“These people were hardy, and there is still that unique heritage today. People in Clandonald would bend over backwards to help one another, becoming the best of friends and neighbours, and it’s a beautiful setting.”