“Keep your eye on Donalda” was a statement in the Wetaskiwin Times newspaper from April, 1911. That was several months before the Village was incorporated.
Donalda was located on the Calgary-Vegreville line of the Canadian Northern Railway. In April 1911 it was reported Donalda that “has the largest country to draw from of any town within a radius of 100 miles.” A bit of hyperbole perhaps but by all accounts Donalda was the centre of a very fertile farming district. As early as 1907 (long before Donalda was established) it was reported in the Wetaskiwin Times that the harvest was good that fall. Wheat averaged 20 to 25 bushels per acre, oats 40 to 60 bushels per acre.
By 1911 coal was being mined within half a mile of the Village from the rich strata in the Meeting Creek Coulee – a boon to settlers for their stoves and the railway for its trains.
There were three general stores, two lumber yards, a hardware store, three implement houses, a harness shop, and a drug store – all before the village was incorporated. There was a need, the newspaper stated, for a grist mill, barber shop, newspaper and doctor.
Most essential was a boarding house and by April, 1911 a 40-room three-storey hotel was being erected, the location of the present museum. The bar had room for 115 patrons. This hotel stood until it burned down in 1970 with the loss of one life.
Another smaller hotel fronting the railway burnt down in the summer of 1919; it was rebuilt and opened in the spring of 1920 by a new proprietor, Chris Jensen. Meals were 40 cents. J. W. Murphy’s hall was also lost in the same fire but he rebuilt a new hall on Main Street designed as a movie theatre. The first movie shown was “The Blinding Trail,” a drama starring Monroe Salisbury.
Happy Birthday this week to: Arynn Kathleen Sideritsch, Elizabeth Marshall, Hayley Anderson, Nicole Sideitsch, Leah Erickson, Anna Bailey, Colin Walker, Heather Blouin, Ken Norman, Linda Rider, Tracee Vikse, Chase Sutton, Kyle Charles, Randy Shepherd, Jesse Vikse, and Maisie Burlock.