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Post Offices from the Past

Featuring: Bezanson

By Wanda Zenner

Bezanson is a hamlet in Northern Alberta within the County of Grande Prairie No. 1. It was named after A.M. Bezanson, a entrepreneur and promoter from Nova Scotia. Bezanson is located approximately 30 kms east of Grande Prairie on Highway 43 and west of the Smoky River.

Cecil Evans – Unofficial Postmaster 1914-1915
The Grande Prairie Herald reported on May 26, 1914 that Cecil Evans was the FIRST Postmaster of the Bezanson Post Office that was opened at the Bezanson Townsite (NW 17-71-2-W6). His step-father, Sidney Webb had the contract as the mail courier. In July 1915, Cecil enlisted with the CEF. Private Cecil Evans was “Killed In Action” in France on September 15, 1916. His name is inscribed on the Vimy Memorial.

W.A. Leonard – Postmaster 1915-1916
W.A. Leonard was appointed Postmaster in December 1915 after Cecil Evans had enlisted. He operated the Post Office out of his store. Mr. Leonard resigned in June 1916. R.S.

McDonald – Postmaster 1917-1918
In January 1917, R.S. McDonald filled the position of Postmaster and operated the Post Office out of his store until June 1918.

Edith Morrison – Postmaster 1919-1921
Ken Morrison arrived in the area with his family in July 1918 and purchased a store at the Townsite from P.V. Croken. The store had been originally owned by Peterson & McDonald. Ken had his sister-inlaw, Minnie Bryenton, manage the store and his wife, Edith, was subsequently appointed as Postmaster in January 1919 – a position she kept until May 1921.

Francis Weighill – Postmaster – 1922-1923
Francis Weighill was appointed as Postmaster from May 1922 to January 1923 and operated the Post Office out of the vacated A.M. Bezanson house as the Morrison Store was in the process of being dismantled by the Weighill Brothers. Francis was the last Postmaster at the Bezanson Townsite.

Samuel Hunter – Postmaster 1924 – 1926
Bezanson was without a Postmaster for over a year until Sam Hunter was appointed to the position in April 1924 and operated the Post Office out of his home on NW 2-72-3-W6 until August 1926.

Note the white Post Office sign in top right corner.

Pat & Lucie Rooney – Postmasters 1926-1946
Once Pat Rooney moved to the main road that provided service from Sturgeon Lake to Grande Prairie in 1926 and expressed an interest in opening a post office in his store, he was appointed Postmaster for the new enlarged area that saw the combination of Smoky River and Bezanson into one Postal District. Pat was appointed in December 1926 – a position he kept until 1931 at which time his wife, Lucie was appointed Postmaster. Lucie remained in that capacity until November 1946 when they sold their business. The Rooney’s moved to Grande Prairie and eventually retired in Kelowna. Lucie passed away in 1951, Pat in 1962. Both were buried at the Kelowna Cemetery.

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Bezanson Community Marks Locations of Historical One-Room Schools

In 2018, a local researcher embarked upon a project to mark the historical one-room school sites in the Bezanson District. The Kleskun Hill Museum Society applied for and received a Community Initiatives Program Grant administered by Alberta Culture and Tourism to fund the project and with the assistance of the County of Grande Prairie No. 1 to install the signs, all the sites were marked by October 2019.

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Echo Hill Farms; Pork and Specialty Flowers

What is Echo Hill Farms?  Where did the name of your business come from?

Echo Hill Farms is a sustainable and ethically focused pastured pork and specialty cut flower farm located in the sandy hills of Bad Heart (NE of Teepee Creek), overlooking the Smokey River valley.  From certain vantage points on our land we can bounce our voices off of the river valley banks…hence the name!

Tell us about Echo Hill Farms – where did the idea come from and what is the purpose?

We have always wanted to own land and create a space for ourselves and our children. A space where our actions are in harmony with nature.  Upon purchase in 2015, we immediately set to work revitalizing the soil and we did all of it with pigs…and fell in love with their intelligence, workability, and deliciousness. Over the last 5 years we have increased our herd to a manageable size that allows us to offer seasonal, pasture raised butcher hogs as well as weaner pigs to families wanting to raise their own. Both Jerome and myself are avid gardeners and so last year we decided to diversify our farm by growing specialty cut flowers. Growing fancy flowers in a 100 day growing season has its challenges, but the success of last year has us gearing up for many more seasons. Everything we do here on the farm we do with sustainable and ethical agricultural/husbandry practices. We use natural fertilizers, practice no till, create low stress environments for animals, and work to create a space that invites nature into its folds.

Why is this important to you?

I was always in awe of my grandmother, a woman who wasted nothing, worked hard, and found joy in successes large and small. Her yard, although in the city, seemed immense and filled with nature. Being able to recreate that for our own children while encouraging sustainable approaches to farming have been paramount to our farms vision. 

What is the best way for people to get a hold of you to purchase your products? Currently we have both farm Facebook and Instagram accounts. Messages or direct phone calls are our primary point of contact. We will be working toward a website soon…but I am technologically disadvantaged!! Our pork and weaner pigs are available seasonally and by wholesale purchase. Our flowers are of course seasonal and available at the Sexsmith and Grande Prairie Farmers Markets, Gateway Homesteader Health, by special order, and very soon we will be launching Bouquet Subscriptions. 

When did your family move to the Bezanson area?

I followed my husband back to Alberta in 2004. We bounced around the Peace Country a fair bit, finally landing in Bezanson in 2011. We found our 80 acre farm in Bad Heart several years later and put our roots down permanently.

What does living in Bezanson mean to you?

 I loved my time in Bezanson and still maintain many wonderful friendships and connections within the community. It is a tightnit small town in a bustling industrial area…a reassuring reminder that no matter the world around you, connection and community are paramount.

What is your dream for Echo Hill Farms?

I think we are living it! There are so many struggles along the way for small and large farmers alike, but producing quality food and quality flowers with the smallest environmental footprint we can manage has been incredibly fulfilling. Plans and ideas evolve, but for now we meet the coolest people, spend the majority of our time outside, eat well, and have each other. We don’t want for much more!

Meet Tammy J. Coulter, Local Author

What are the names of the books that you wrote? Is this a series?

The books are called the Rick Attison Novels. I currently have 2 published through Amazon’s Create Space, which is a self-publishing website. The first two books are The Black Knights and White Daze. I have a total of 5 books written, book 6 is in the process of being written and ideas for additional books.

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Harvestful – A Local Microgreens Business

What is Harvestful?  Where did the name of your business come from?

Harvestful is a farm that grows nutrient dense super foods called microgreens. If you don’t know what microgreens are they are ready to eat (no prep) nutrient dense baby vegetables with at least 20 times the nutrition and flavour as their mature counterpart. 

The name came to me one day when I was in my garden and I had such an abundant year for my crops that I was trying to describe the plentiful harvest and the word harvestful popped in my head and I went with it.

Tell us about Harvestful – where did the idea come from and what is the purpose?

 I started growing wheat grass in 2011 that I used for juicing to help increase my intake of greens and help boost my immune system. I branched out a few years later trying more varieties of microgreens and fell in love with them. I have a love of growing things especially when I can harvest them within 10 days and have nutritious food for my family. My kids are pretty picky eaters and getting adequate amount of greens in their diet is a struggle, but they loved growing and eating pea shoots, so that was my ticket. I couldn’t just keep this love to myself, I gave packages away to friends and family to try so they too had super foods to nourish their families and it all took off from there. I just more recently started to sell them as the word got out.

Why is this important to you?

 I want people to have easy access to nutrient dense super foods. Unfortunately, most of our nutritious food in grocery stores are picked before their prime and can be loaded with pesticides and the nutrient density declines from the time it is harvested and shipped to when it is consumed. I harvest my microgreens the same day I deliver, so they are guaranteed to be the freshest possible.   

How do people get a hold of you?

I can be messaged through my Facebook page called Harvestful or I can be contacted through my email: or cell phone (780) 882-0282.

When did your family move to Bezanson?

We moved to Bezanson in 2015. I was born and raised in the region, growing up on an acreage East of Clairmont and my husband grew up West Sexsmith. After we were married we searched for the right place to raise our family and loved the Bezanson area.

What does living in Bezanson mean to you?

We love living in Bezanson, it is such a great community. The heart of this community is remarkable. Always someone willing to lend a hand to those who need it, people supporting each other’s ventures whether it is buying farm fresh eggs or honey down the road or hiring the services of of a neighbour to plow your driveway, we all work together to make things work.

What is your dream for Harvestful?

I want Harvestful to meet the needs of the community and surrounding communities by providing the best possible farm fresh microgreens. We are a very small farm and my desire is for it to expand and increase and to continually meet the needs of those that are wanting to add nutrient dense foods into their diet.

Any favorite quotes?

I love what Hippocrates said “Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.” Microgreens are like medicine, they provide a nutrient A-bomb to our bodies. Majority of us have much need of increasing our nutrition in our diets for better health, adding microgreens is an easy way to level up our intake of those nutrients.