Leonard Gaetz: Founder of Red Deer, Alberta

(This story is one of a series entitled “One Person’s Journey” telling how people from all walks of life, including a few rogues and rebels, have left their marks upon the world. To see a list of others featured in the series, click here.)

Leonard Gaetz

Leonard Gaetz
1841 – 1907

For the buffalo hunters who migrated between the eastern plains and the western foothills, and for the fur traders who followed them in the late 18th century, the place that became Red Deer was nothing more than a stop along the way – a sheltered river valley where they could camp for the night before moving on. But for Leonard Gaetz and the other white settlers who arrived in the area during the 1880s, it was an idyllic parkland location where, said Gaetz, “I would rather take my chances in the industry of farming than in any spot on Earth either south or north of the 49th parallel.”

Gaetz, who called himself a “pilgrim,” moved to the farming country of central Alberta for a number of reasons: “poor health, poverty, and a desire to keep my family around me.”

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