The History Of Beiseker

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The area of Beiseker was primarily the territory of the Blackfoot for centuries. Their territory stretched from Montana and the Rocky Mountains to central Alberta out almost to Manitoba. One of the main reasons they occupied this area was because of the bison herds who would migrate through the area.

The Blackfoot would harvest the bison and the early settlers to Beiseker would discover bison bones on their land, which had been harvested long ago before Europeans ever arrived in the area.

Today, Beiseker sits on Treaty 7 land, signed by the Blackfoot in 1877.

In 1908, a large group of German settlers began to arrive in the region thanks to the work of a colonization company. That same year, Beiseker would be founded. It would grow slowly but the Canadian Pacific Railway’s arrival in 1910 spurred on settlement. The year the railroad arrived, the first general store was opened in a two-storey building that also housed the school and dance hall.

The village name came from Thomas Beiseker, who was a vice president and partner in the Calgary Colonization Company that helped to found the community.

Many of the early German settlers who came to the community had come from North and South Dakota.

One early settlers was Joseph Schmaltz, who was born in Russia and moved to the area on March 19, 1908. Arriving with his wife Matilda and their family, they were one of six families to settle in the area that year to help establish the community.

All of their belongings were loaded onto wagons and hayracks and transported along the prairie trails. He would then take up land one kilometre away from Beiseker where he would farm until he retired to live in the village in 1925.

The family would become an important part of the community, with seven sons and one daughter moving to the community with their parents, which produced 60 grandchildren.

In 1950, Schmaltz was the oldest resident in the community and the last remaining settler who came over to establish the community in 1908.

Another building that was constructed in 1910 was the Canadian Pacific Railway Station. The building was built on the west-end of the community and it quickly became the focal point of Beiseker. In the mid-1960s, the station was decommissioned and it sat empty for the next 25 years. Then, later moved from the CPR track-way, through turning it 180 degrees, and placing it on the Village of Beiseker property where it would become the municipal office, library and museum. In 2006, it was designated as a Municipal Historic Resource.

The area of Beiseker quickly became known for its ability to grow large crops of wheat and before long, it was known as the World Wheat King Capital.

In August 1925, the justice of the peace and postmaster for the community was embroiled in a high profile case when Edward Hagel accused him of telling him to leave the town within 20 minutes or he would shoot him, followed by two gunshots over his head.

The postmaster and justice of the peace, Charles Fryer, was arraigned on charges of intent to maim. According to the evidence, Fryer did not like Hagel spending time with his daughter, who was living in Calgary at the time. As postmaster, he had opened a letter that was sent to his daughter and became angry to find out that Hagel and his daughter were writing each other. Hagel had just been sitting in front of the post office when Fryer arrived, brandishing a revolver and threatening to shoot him. Hagel said he tried to explain but Fryer was not listening to him. Hagel would flee into the blacksmith shop and then into a side street where he was tackled by Fryer. The two men briefly fought before going their separate ways. Fryer would say there was no reason to have a fuss over the entire matter as he shot over the head of Hagel, not at him, simply as a means to frighten him.

In 1932, Beiseker made news across the province when it dealt with a crime spree unusual for a small town. In the last week of October of that year, the community dealt with three robberies. A grocery store, gas station and general store had been broken into. At the gas station, the hose was cut on a service pump and 50 gallons of gas was stolen in the process. The man who had conducted the thefts, N. Gordon, would be caught and sentenced to six months in prison.

If you go to Beiseker, you will come across Squirt the Skunk. This statue, which was created in the early-1990s to promote the community, is 13 feet high and sits in the campground of the community. A contest was held to generate ideas and drawings for a mascot in the community. Squirt was chosen and the statue was soon built. Today, he has become an integral part of the image of the community. I’ve seen it the statue and it makes for a great picture opportunity on any road trip through the county.

If you would like to learn more about Beiseker, then the best place to visit is the Beiseker Station Museum, which is situated in the historic train station in the community that I mentioned earlier. The museum was established on Dec. 21, 1984 through the efforts of volunteers. The artifacts in the museum have primarily been donated by local residents, and it makes an excellent stop when visiting Beiseker.

I visited it in the summer of 2021 and it has many great things to explore. You can look inside the vintage caboose that has several displays about the railroad history of Beiseker. A sod house, built in 2006, also sits on the museum grounds. The house was built by 23 volunteers, who spent 300 hours and used 1,400 rolls of sod to finish the project. In the museum itself, there are many artifacts that have been donated by the local families and put on display by the volunteers who run this wonderful museum.

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