Arriving at the 6th Siding
Mountain View Museum (Olds Historical Society)
In 1890, a rail handcart moved down a ribbon of steel, the Calgary and Edmonton Rail line that was under construction. Mr. David Shannon, the section foreman, looked around at the land as he pumped his cart to the 6th siding. He saw a sea of grass to the east, and grass quickly rising to dense forests and the snow-capped Rocky Mountains to the west. He decided that this was the place for his family to settle. He claimed squatters' rights, and then filed a $10 request for his quarter section under the 1872 Dominion Lands Act. He was the first to settle the land by the 6th siding, named Olds in 1891.
Irish-born railway man, David Shannon immigrated to Canada to construct the CPR from Montréal to the Golden Spike. His family claims many firsts: his wife was the first white woman, and his daughter the first white baby born, in the soon-to-be town of Olds. Shannon became the stationmaster and a homesteader. He and his sons later constructed homes in Olds that still stand today.
We chronicle, from 1890 to 1914, the trickle and then flood of homesteaders, job seekers, and businessmen that decided, like Shannon, to make their new life in and near Olds.
Sourcing books, records, diary entries, letters, images, family memories (written and oral), we look into these settlers' lives, their challenges, their leisure, their tools and technologies that helped them to successfully build Olds.
"In less than fifteen years, a little empty spot on the virgin prairie had been transformed to a vibrant centre of farming and lumbering, served by a progressive business community which now stood ready to assume the status of a town” [from The History of Olds and Area, published by History Committee–Town of Olds].