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Naming a Town

Naming a Town


At least two publications of place names of Alberta have listed “Hanna – formerly Cooperville.” This is incorrect, it should be Copeville.

George Cope homesteaded land about two miles east of the present townsite. He opened a store, Mercantile Lumber which became the terminal point of the stage coach and trucking service from Castor, the nearest railroad. He operated the Copeville post office there. Only the earliest settlers remember that location.

George Cope sold the land to Holbrook and reopened the Copeville post office straight south. When the townsite was laid out, the post office was relocated on the 200 block of 2nd avenue east for a short time, until the town was officially named, it remained the post office. Then W.E. Stirling became post master and operated the business for many years.

The focal point of the business section of the town has always been the hotel corner. The four buildings that make up the corner are the original buildings. The National Hotel was built during the winter of 1912, an open winter when men worked in their shirt sleeves. It opened for business March 17, 1913. Across to the south stands the first brick building in Hanna; it was to have been a six storey structure (Hanna’s skyscraper) and the base was laid to hold that, but only two storeys were ever built, the lower floor for retail and the second for offices. The main floor was rented to Bruce Wallen who opened his clothing store there, the location remained a clothing business for years, following Bruce were: Charlie Stephens; Mohl and Lunn, Dick Mohl and his son Jeff. Today the premise is occupied by lawyer Murray Shack.

On the southeast corner is the building erected by George Fleming, the main floor a retail store: “Johnston the Druggist wants to see you.” It remained a drug store for many years under various owners and now houses Central Meats, owned and operated by Billy Simpson. The upper floor was always a meeting room and it served the town well for many years. Countless organizations rented it for meetings, card parties, dances, socials of all kinds.

On the northeast corner is a brick building, originally the Union Bank. The Union became the Royal Bank, which later moved a block east. The building became the town hall until the present town office was built.

The community was named in honor of one of the country’s most eminent industrialists, David Blythe Hanna who was president of Canadian National Railways at the time.

When the Canadian government purchased the Canadian National Railway in 1918, Mr. Hanna resigned and was appointed first president of the board of directors of Canadian National Railways. In 1922 he retired from railway service and was appointed first chairman of the Ontario Liquor Control Board when that government passed the Ontario Temperance Act.

Text courtesy of The Hanna Herald