If you want to know about Red Deer history – just ask an archivist. The Red Deer& District Archives is the official repository for city records of all kinds and its where inquisitive citizens research Red Deer’s historic places,trailblazing pioneers, community happenings, even famous runaway piggies and 100-year-old candy recipes. We asked our local history experts five curious questions about Red Deer’s colourful past and here are their five fascinating answers.
Q. Who was Red Deer’s most notorious person?
A. While there are many colourful characters in Red Deer, one of the most notorious was Louis Martin Sage, founder of Cash City southwest of Red Deer in the late 1880s. To promote his site for settlement and investment, Sage published many tall tales in The Calgary Tribune, each emphasizing that his site was better than the one at the “lower crossing” (Red Deer).
Due to his poor management skills and bad relations with his neighbours including the Alberta Lumber Company, the settlement failed miserably. Sage then became involved in several liveries, a shipping company, and a few other businesses but they collapsed any time creditors came to collect. This led to troubles with the legal system. In 1893, he was arrested on a charge of larceny in Calgary (dismissed), in 1894 on attempted murder charges in Red Deer (reduced to grievous assault), and again in 1894 for using insulting language to a woman and swearing on the highway outside Innisfail.
Despite his remarkably poor business sense and his arrest record, he continued to be involved in the livery business in Red Deer and area off and on for many years, and he even raced horses around British Columbia and the United States. He died without family and was buried in Innisfail cemetery in an unmarked grave.
The story of Cash City is recorded in Homesteads That Nurtured A City, one of our library books—we host a small reference library including books from the Red Deer branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society. We also have many records from the author, E. L. Meeres, including his research notes, which are available to the public.
Q. Who was Red Deer’s most respectable person?
A. There are so many great contributors that we cannot choose one to be the most respectable; however, one of our favourites here is Ethel Taylor. She was exceptionally active in Red Deer, founding the Red Deer Women’s Institute, Red Deer Local Council of Women, Hospital Auxiliary, Alberta Council on Aging, Kindergarten Society, Film Society, Allied Arts Council, Craft Centre, Social Welfare Committee, Social Planning Council, Family Service Bureau, Indian Association of Alberta, and Indian-Eskimo Association. In 1961, she was elected the first female council member for the City of Red Deer and in 1979 Taylor Drive and Taylor Bridge was named in her honour. We have a large fonds – a collection of documents and photos created by Ethel Taylor – here which is available for researchers who want to know more about her or about the groups she started. Photo right. Photo credit: Red Deer & District Archives, P413 – Ethel Taylor as a young woman.