Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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The Settlers

Centre St. looking north from Seymour on 1st Ave. Centre St. looking north from Seymour on 1st Ave.


The Big Country in which Hanna was situated was first opened by the cattlemen. In 1909 the first homesteads were released and settlers began to come in. The first homesteaders were mainly American, Canadian and German-Russian. A large number of the Americans came from the Dakotas. There were many of Scottish extraction who never allowed their homeland to be forgotten.

There were enough American families that for a number of years after the school was opened, the war of 1776 was fought over with a regularity that must have become monotonous to the teachers. Both July 1st and July 4th were celebrated by the whole community. When the town of Hanna was established people from all over North America arrived and within several months the new town boasted a population of almost 1,000 souls. Many from the homesteads in the surrounding area moved into the townsite to establish businesses. The first to arrive was J.C. Trenaman and his family who had homesteaded in the Hand Hills. When they arrived they were among the fortunate few to have a building waiting for them. It was located on the southeast corner of the townsite and served as home and office. The building was eventually moved to the corner of second avenue and main street were it served a variety of occupants until it was demolished in the early 1980's to make way for the Tower Park Mall.

Mrs. Trenaman, a graduate of the Montreal General Hospital was the first nurse in the new town.

The Trenamans were only the first of many to arrive in the weeks and months. Many of the newcomers had spent months on the trail carrying their effects overland by team and wagon from all points of North America.

Some of the ranchers and homesteaders left the area with their families in the fall to avoid the harsh winter. They had been unable to build adequate shelter on the homesteads to face a prairie winter.

J.E. Jones, a homesteader from the area had the first harness shop which he operated for a number of years. He and J.C. Trenaman carried on a feud over who had the first building in Hanna. Jones started his building first, but the Trenaman building was the first to be completed. The Jones building and the original Empire Theater building were both burned in a major fire.

Several of the early buildings were moved to the surrounding homesteads to be used as granaries to house the wheat from the bumper crop of 1915. The office of H.H. Halladay was among them.

Many of the first settlers were bachelors, while others left their families behind until they had a chance to establish a business and build a home.

The people who came to the new townsite were young, healthy and enthusiastic. At first there were no elderly people and very few children. Many shacks went up overnight and many people lived in tents.

Some of the homesteaders who moved to Hanna to establish businesses were: J.C. Trenaman, real estate and later agent for Dominion Lands; J.E. Jones, The Hanna Harness Shop, later sold to Lorne Stuart; C.N. Tingle, General Office business and later secretary to the town; S.H. Holbrook, photographer; Campbell, the blacksmith; F.B. Randall, the dairy man; G.H. Wade, physician and surgeon.

In December 1912 Herb McCrea, a young man who had learned the printing trade set out from Bassano with a Washington hand press and a few cases of type loaded in a wagon sleigh. He drove his team toward Hanna, crossed the river on the ice and established the Hanna Herald in time to publish the first edition on Christmas Eve 1912. George Fleming rode from Munson on horse back in July 1912, and his family followed a short time later. Jim Stephens came from Castor on the stage operated by Scotty Glover. All of the pioneers remember being tormented by the hordes of mosquitoes. And they all remembered the harsh winters.

Text courtesy of The Hanna Herald


Dominion House - 1912