County History

History

The current strong, diversified economy and tourism attractions of Lamont County are a tribute to the hardy pioneers who settled this area. Our success today is a result of people of varying nationalities and religious convictions who cooperated to forge a prosperous and progressive area.

First surveyed in 1883

The area that is now part of Lamont County was first surveyed in 1883, before settlers arrived, and while the Beaverhill area was a hunter’s paradise.
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Frank W.W. Fane

First Wave of Settlers

The first settler in the Beaverhill Lake region was an Englishman, Frank W.W. Fane, who after having served eight years in the Northwest Mounted Police, took a homestead in 1887. He brought cattle and horses from southern Alberta, and while farming, maintained a post office and a general store that served a wide area, with people coming 15 or 20 miles distance on foot for supplies.

Mr. Fane was the first councilor in the Local Improvement District of Beaver, was the first Conservative candidate in 1905, and held various positions as magistrate, doctor, dentist, and lawyer. His son was Major Frank Fane, a WWI era solder, and a former Member of Parliament for the Vegreville district from 1958-1968.
Other settlers soon followed: Peter McCallum and the Deby’s (1891), the Steel brothers, the McAllisters (1895), and the Watsons, Stewarts, and Wilsons (1898). At the same time, in 1888, German farmers migrated into the Bruderheim area, selecting the richest land in the region; by 1896 their number had reached 150. Polish people settled near St. Michael in 1898, later to move onward throughout the region.

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Wasyl Eleniak

Second Wave of Settlers

In 1891 a new era began when the first Ukrainian immigrants, Wasyl Eleniak and Ivan Pilipewsky, landed at Montreal. People from their homeland of Galicia came in large numbers to settle this part of Alberta.

Wasyl Eleniak, along with his brother Peter, settled in Chipman. Wasyl Eleniak farmed and raised a large family, passing at the age of 97. Ivan Pilipewsky and his family settled north of Lamont, near Star.
These hard-working people quickly broke the land, building sod houses with thatched roofs. The nearest railway depot was at Strathcona, now South Edmonton, and the mail was distributed from Fort Saskatchewan. Trips through the wilderness were not uncommon and often took days, traveling by foot, ox-drawn carts, or horse and buggy.

The Ukrainians retained their dynamic culture and customs to contribute to the wonderful mosaic of today’s Alberta.

Initial Government

The first governments were in the form of three Local Improvement Districts. The first LID 27N4 administered the Chipman-Mundare area and held its first meeting on July 14, 1906 with Councillors Michael Eleniuk (chairman), J. Wilinski, P. Bahry, and H. Theis (sec-treas). Councillors were paid $2.00 per day and the secretary treasurer’s salary was originally $100.00.

The second LID No. 28N4 centered at Wostok, named by Theodore Nemirsky. The name is derived from the Ukrainian work “Wostoko,” which makes reference to the Three Wise Men and the star in the East.

The initial meeting of LID No. 28N4 was held on June 22, 1908, attended by Councillors Theodore Nemirsky (chairman), J. Lesar, F. Wosney, E.S. Harris, H. Samograd, and S. W. Calvert (sec-treas.). Meetings were held in Wostok at the Alexandra Hotel. Taxes were set at $4.50 per 1/4 section, of which $.50 was mandatory payment. The rent could be paid by two day’s road labor. In 1919 this area became the Municipal District of Wostok No. 546, with the council as follows: J. Hnidan (Reeve), N. Moshuk, M. Shopka, N. Zigonook, J. Warshawsky, and Wm. Knysh (who served as councilor for 19 years). E. Marianicz was secretary- treasurer. Headquarters were in Andrew.

The third district was LID No. 546, centred at Sniatyn. The first meeting on March 14, 1913, saw as councillors Kost Nemirsky (chairman), W. Chamlock, G. Burdian, M. Shopka, T. Vitvicki, and N. Bidniak.

On December 23, 1912 Improvement District No. 516 was created, which became the Municipal District of Pines No. 516 on January 25, 1913. Councillors at that time were A. Achtemychuk (chairman), E. Halberg, M. Kozak, W. Miskew, J. Jakubec and A. Lappenbush. M. Korczynski was secretary treasurer. 

In June, 1920, the Municipal District of Leslie No. 547 was incorporated. The council consisted of Wm. Pylypow (Reeve), J. Koshure, P. Thomas, M. Kaminsky, N. Prosek, and A. Anderson. This Municipal office was in Lamont.

In 1944 the Municipal District of Pines No. 516, Wostok No. 546 and Leslie No. 537 were merged into one new municipal district to be known as the Municipal District of Lamont No. 516, which was then renumbered as the Municipal District of Lamont No. 82 in 1945, when all numbers for municipal districts were changed across the province.

In 1968 the Municipal District of Lamont No. 82 and the Lamont School Division No. 18 (formed in 1944) were incorporated into a county to be known as the County of Lamont No. 30. The name was changed in 2000 to be Lamont County.

Politics of the 1900s

In the field of politics, many people from Lamont County have made outstanding contributions: Peter Stefura of the Village of Chipman was elected Member of Parliament in 1957; major Frank Fane, a farmer in the Mundare area, held the Vegreville federal constituency for the Progressive Conservative party from 1958 until his retirement in 1968; Anthony Hlynka was also a Member of Parliament for the Vegreville constituency in the years 1940-49.

Others from this area have sat in the Alberta Legislative Assembly. They include: Willian Fedun, 1921-25, Peter Miskew, 1930-35, George Woytkiw, 1940, Stanley N. Ruzycki, 1955-59, Nicholas A. Melnyk, 1959-71, John Batiuk, 1971-86, George Topolnitsky, 1971-86, Julius Edward Yankowsky, 1993-2004, and Edward Stelmach, Premier of Alberta from 2006-2011.

The province experienced an economic boom 1969-1983 which affected every facet in life and every level of government. The first big change came in August of 1971 when the Progressive Conservative Government swept into power; John Batiuk won the Vegreville constituency seat, which included the south-eastern parts of the Lamont County. The Redwater-Andrew seat was taken by a teacher, George Topolnisky of Andrew. The Lamont area, part of the Clover Bar constituency, stayed with former Social Credit MLA, Walter Buck. All three successfully retained their seats, even through the November 1982 election.

Lamont County Today

Today the Town of Mundare area boasts of a monastery, grotto and museum run by the Basilian Fathers, a hospital, school, fire station and a town office.

In the Town of Lamont, the Auxillary Hospital was built and opened in 1964. In 1995 a fire devastated this building and a new facility was built. A Senior Citizens’ and Nursing Home was constructed in 1969 and a new addition to the Beaverhill Lodge will be opening soon. Lamont is also home to a High School and Elementary School, a fire station, and the County Office, which was constructed in 1972 and renovated in 2016.

The Village of Andrew is proud of its Village Office/School Complex, which is the first of its kind in the province. The Village is home to the world’s largest mallard duck; Andrew is situated just northwest of the Whitford Creek Nature Complex, which is a major flyway for waterfowl.

In the Town of Bruderheim, located on the County’s western border, an elementary/junior high school was constructed in 1980. The Town’s Administration Office was moved from the old Walker School building into a renovated building in the Town.

The Village of Chipman is proud and excited to be the site of a long-term development project that began in 2008, transforming the community with attractive retail, commercial and residential areas.

Lamont County and the progress it has made over the years is a tribute to the hardy pioneers who settled and made this area their home. It is symbolic of a region where people of varying nationalities and religious convictions have been able to cooperate to forge a prosperous and progressive area. It stands as a tribute to their efforts and as a reminder of the heritage that helped to found this province.