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Historical society event to mark Millarville's 130th anniversary

The Millarville Historical Society is hosting an event at the MRAS Hall to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the Foothills County hamlet.
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The Hamlet of Millarville on Sept. 12, 2019. (BRENT CALVER/Western Wheel)

Millarville celebrates its 130th anniversary this year. 

A celebration of the milestone, hosted by the Millarville Historical Society, is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 7 at the Millarville Racetrack Hall starting at 1 p.m. 

"(Millarville) was a very rich area, because it was rooted in ranching, farming and the oil industry,” said Lorretta Stabler, president of the historical society. 

The anniversary marks the 1892 opening of a post office and general store in the area. It was named Millarville after the original postmaster, Malcolm Millar. 

The Millarville post office was the only one in the area. Mail came in once a week, and the building became an important place for community members to gather and trade news or stories. 

“There would be a little bit of visiting and finding out what was going on in the community,” Stabler said. 

The post office and store changed hands numerous times, and family members of many of the owners will be at the event, sharing stories and memories. 

Gene Blakley, with the historical society, said the general store and post office have always been a centre of the community. 

"It was truly a general store," Blakley said, with everything from groceries to clothing to agricultural supplies available, hearkening back to a time when everybody knew everybody else. 

“They ran credit, because, you know, agriculture is very cyclical business as far as income.

“And you certainly weren't going to default on your bill at the store, because everybody would know.” 

The operation moved around over the years, and photos of the post office and store in various locations will be on display. 

“The store has actually been in three different locations,” Stabler said. 

There will also be a “historical perspective” on Millarville Motors, opened in 1943, to go along with the presentations about the post office and general store. 

“Those are the two businesses that have that have withstood the years,” she said. 

Millarville Motors served as the post office for a time after a fire right before Christmas in 1988. The destroyed post office and general store were rebuilt the following year. 

During the celebration, artifacts that were discovered during excavations done in the area between 2003 and 2005 will be on display. 

Some of the artifacts discovered during the digs, by Grade 4 and 5 students, include personal items as well as bits-and-pieces that give evidence of an oil boom in the area in the mid-1940s. 

The items were uncovered with help from an archaeologist and will be on loan from the Royal Alberta Museum, Stabler said. 

She said parts of tools and dishes were found, and even a pocket watch was uncovered, all of which help to show what life was like in the hamlet then. 

During the afternoon event, Saskatoon tarts will be served, to pay homage to the historical significance the berry played in the area. 

“Saskatoons were a huge part of this area as well,” Stabler said. 

After presentations about the history of the post office and store, the winners of the Historical Postage Stamp contest will be recognized, and there will be time to view photos and artifacts and visit with friends and neighbours. 

Memberships to the Millarville Historical Society will be available as well, she said. 

For more information, visit the Millarville Historical Society Facebook page.

Robert Korotyszyn

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