Weekly Reflections: People Brought Character and Culture to Peace River – Part 61

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Recently, a building at 9801-101 Street, across from 101 Street from the Centennial Parking Lot, partially died of fire. It was no ordinary building having undergone several changes – in ownership and function – over its nine decades – from a place of residence to a business. The architecture of the house, set back from the street on an elevation facing the Peace River, according to Donald Luxton & Associates Inc., is “significant as a rare example of a finely crafted Arts and Crafts house. designed, with details that reflect [owner] The prosperity of Henry Jerry. The Jerry Residence is a fine example of a late expression of this architectural style.

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The one-story, front-gabled residence, with enclosed front porch, was built on a concrete foundation on two lots at the corner of 101 St. and 98 Ave. purchased in 1924 by Peace River Meat Co. for use in the The family home of owner Henry Jerry, which was not built until four years later, in 1928. The wood-frame wood siding was then stuccoed by local contractor Fred Fox.

As you probably understood , this week the Henry Jerry family is in the spotlight. The Patriarch, Henry Earl Jerry, was born in Collingwood, Ontario on October 14, 1895; moved to the American West, specifically Montana, at the age of 14, to work in a meat market, which he had done in his hometown when he was 11. father of a son, Robert Henry (Bob), born August 22, 1917.

After Henry had checked out the Peace River area in 1919, with the idea of ​​opening a meat business “in the northern border town,” he and Dot moved to Peace River in 1920, settling in Harmon Valley, formerly known as River Bend. His brother, Albert, and his wife Lily followed in 1923, but returned to the East in 1936 with their son Earl.

At first, because Henry was busy setting up his business with John Norman Olson, he spent very little time in the field. He and his partner Olson established a meat market in the north of town on April 17, 1920 – John “mostly in the back, while Henry tended the counter displays” and used the business skills that ‘he had learned as a teenager, writes Frank Richardson in Peace River Remembers.

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The business flourished. After 20 years, the partners moved it downtown, near the McNamara Hotel (where B&C Jewelers was until 2010). There it remained under the name Peace River Meat Co. Ltd. until a few years after Henry’s death in 1956.

In his Peace River Remembers story, Jack Coulter writes that Henry built a large slaughterhouse near HA George’s north house (across from what is now TA Norris Middle School). According to Coulter, he “operated the old oil well that had been drilled in previous years [on the west bank of the river] and delivered the raw natural gas to the slaughterhouse. He used it for flashlights, and also for heating. This system, however, had its flaws and was abandoned.

Coulter continued, “Henry Jerry was a go-getter and always ready for anything that came up.” He describes one case – the Cadotte River Gold Rush – north, northeast of the Peace River, in the very early 1920s. “There has been a lot of excitement for a while about this. and the city’s male population was drastically reduced, for a time, until it was discovered that it was all pretty much a hoax. ” [Have we not heard of this before?] However, it was enough for Henry to get up and leave. “He rented a saddle horse, rented me a pony which had been given to me by a friend of my uncle, to use as a pack horse, and left with some of the others to seek his fortune. fast. Like the others, he came back and saw it as a lost cause.

Henry and John kept up with the times. In 1950, they installed a factory with frozen food racks and an extension at the back of their building, which housed a modern smokehouse to produce “delicious ham and bacon – the Peace Star brand,” writes employee Frank Richardson. . There was also a tracking system, whereby the sides of the meat could be unloaded from a van, into storage – out of storage to the cutting tables “without having to be. [physically] lifted throughout the process. The locker factory quickly turned out to be a spectacular success, ”writes Richardson.

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Although they remained associates, John moved to Sexsmith to run a butcher shop they had purchased, while Henry remained in Peace River and looked after the original shop. Their business later expanded into stores in Beaverlodge, Grande Prairie and McLennan, which they ran until 1947. Henry became well known in the Land of Peace as he traveled all over the place, purchasing pigs and cattle for slaughter or buying from people accompanying him. their cattle.

In homage to Henry in the Record-Gazette , he describes him as “a well-known businessman, who has been actively interested in all phases of the development of the city and the district since his arrival here 36 years ago, died at the municipal hospital of Peace River, June 23. [1956]. Although in poor health for some time, death came with an unexpected suddenness. “

He has served his community through such efforts as school and hospital boards, city council, as well as an active member and past president of the Chamber of Commerce and the first president of the Peace River Broadcasting Corporation when it was established in 1954.

As you might expect, he was very interested in agriculture. He believed in the agricultural potential of northern Alberta. He did what he could to promote and encourage good agricultural practices. Some of this encouragement started with the young people of the early 4-H clubs in the area, who owe him the training and support of their clubs. “He took a paternal interest in the 4-H clubs in the district, purchasing a large portion of the animals donated at annual sales,” Richardson writes in Peace River Remembers.

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As busy as he was, there was always time for friends, hunting and fishing. Over the years he has joined with other hunters and anglers such as Cecil Thompson, Dr FH Sutherland, Jim Millar, Bill Andrew, Pierre Gauvreau, Bud Devore and Harry Weaver to fish and hunt across the country. Peace. They shared a cabin at Lac Magloire, near Jean Coté, which they used for duck hunting in the fall.

While much is written about Henry, the writings on Dot are less prolific. She is, however, known to be an active member of the Order of the Royal Purple and the Order of the Eastern Star, as well as other women’s organizations.

Bob Jerry graduated from school and worked in the meat market with his father. For some time after his father’s death he continued in the meat trade. Bob was in poor health for much of his life, according to an account in the Peace River Record-Gazette . His parents, trying to find relief for their son, sought the expertise of specialists, including the internationally renowned Montreal neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield, who managed to improve their son’s health somewhat in the late years. 1940.

Bob did not let his illness prevent him from being physically active. He was an avid tennis player in his early days and a member of the Peace River Tennis Club. He was also the manager of the local hockey and baseball teams. He died in 1986, at the age of 69

Henry died at the Peace River Municipal Hospital on June 23, 1956, at the age of 61, as Dot returned from a medical appointment in Edmonton. Although in poor health for some time, death came to Henry with unexpected suddenness. Ten years later, Dot followed. The Jerry Family – Dot, Henry and Bob are buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Peace River.

Ponderings’ next offering will continue with more character and culture.

Beth Wilkins is a researcher at the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Center.

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