• Maple Leaf with title 150 Okotokians who made a difference

150 Okotokians Who Have Made A Difference

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? Email your suggestion to culture@okotoks.ca

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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. 

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. 

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. 

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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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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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. 

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. 

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Frederick Stockton

Dr. Frederick Stockton was one of the first medical doctors to practice in Okotoks. He financed the large brick Stockton Block in 1903 which housed his medical practice, as well as a drugstore, Union Bank, apartments, and offices. Dr. Stockton also served as the town's first mayor following its incorporation in 1904, making Okotoks the first community between Calgary and Fort Macleod to be incorporated. Streets in the Okotoks Business Park are named in his honour. 

Ethel Tucker

Born at Davisburg in 1912, Ethel Tucker devoted her life to the community. She was named the town's first Citizen of the Year in 1976 for her tireless volunteerism with such organizations as the Okotoks Food Bank, Arthritis Society, Canadian Red Cross, Okotoks Horse Show, Okotoks Oilers and Foothills Bisons hockey teams. Ethel also managed the Sears catalogue office in Okotoks. She never married, however, she considered the citizens of Okotoks to be her large, extended family. Ethel passed away in 1995 and friends offered this tribute: "Ethel stood out as a symbol of all pioneer women of Western Canada -hard working, courageous, bearing pain without complaint, always ready with a helping hand. Her heart was as big as the outdoors." Centennial Park was renamed Ethel Tucker Centennial Park in 1995. 

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Bill Wylie

Wylie Athletic Park, which encompasses the Okotoks Recreation Centre and adjoining recreational space, was officially dedicated in 1986 to honour the long-standing community service of Bill Wylie. Bill was elected to council in 1973 and then served four terms (12 years) as mayor from 1978 to 1989. Bill was also a member of the Okotoks Volunteer Fire Department for 12 years and very active with the Okotoks Lions Club. Bill was the driving force behind the development of the much-needed recreation centre and the 47-acre master recreation site, which now bears his name. 

Beatrice Wyndham

In 1919, Beatrice Wyndham became the first woman ever elected to public office in Okotoks. She served on the Okotoks School Board for 12 years. Beatrice was a tireless community worker. She served on the Okotoks Agricultural Society's fair board, volunteered with the Red Cross, was a member of the St. Peter's Anglican Church women's auxiliary and the Okotoks Book Club, and was an avid curler on a team she called the 'Wild Cat Team.' That was a fitting name for a tenacious woman who wasn't afraid to stand up for her beliefs. A park is named after her in the Drake Landing subdivision. 

Stylized maple leaf with Canada 150 underneath
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