Category Archives: One Person’s Journey

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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Victoria Belcourt Callihoo: Buffalo hunter and folk historian

(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.)

Victoria Belcourt Callihoo 1861 – 1966

Victoria Belcourt Callihoo
1861 – 1966

Victoria Belcourt was born at a time when the buffalo still provided vital food and clothing for the people in her aboriginal community. She died the year before her country, Canada, celebrated its 100th birthday. Among her Cree-speaking people, stories were orally transmitted, rarely written down and often lost to posterity. Fortunately for future historians, however, Victoria’s stories were collected and preserved in archives. They offer a rare and fascinating insight into a way of life that had all but disappeared by the time she was in her early 20s.

Named after Queen Victoria and baptized by an Oblate missionary named Father Albert Lacombe, Victoria grew up in Lac Ste. Anne, a Roman Catholic mission in central Alberta established by the Oblates during the 1840s. She went on her first buffalo hunt at age 13……

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George DuPre: Second World War counterfeit spy

(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.)

George DuPre 1903 – 1982

George DuPre
1903 – 1982

George DuPre earned his 15 minutes of fame with a remarkable, if dubious, achievement. He deceived millions – including a distinguished war correspondent and the editors of Reader’s Digest and Random House publishers – with a totally bogus account of his exploits as a secret agent during the Second World War.

“Charlatan,” “impostor,” “pathological liar,” — all of these terms apply to this charming spinner of tall tales who found in Canada a place where he could pass himself off as a war hero; a place where he could turn his back on the mundane reality of his actual, wartime experiences and concoct a fantastic fiction about working as a spy in occupied France…….

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Kathleen Parlow: “World’s greatest woman violinist”

(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.)

KathleenParlow2

Kathleen Parlow
1890 – 1963

No Canadian artist of the early 20th century enjoyed a more distinguished career than violinist Kathleen Parlow. During a 20-year career as a touring concert soloist, she performed to great acclaim on the stages of North America, Europe and Asia, recorded for Columbia Records, and was hailed by audiences, critics and fellow musicians as being without peer among the violinists of her time.

The newspapers dubbed her “the lady of the golden bow.” Born in Calgary, Alberta, where her father worked as a retail store clerk and her mother taught elementary school, she started playing the violin at age four, and right from the very beginning seemed destined for greatness. She gave her first public recital at age six (she characterized herself as “one of those things – a child prodigy”) and by age 15 was performing in Europe. She turned professional at 17 and spent the next two decades touring the world as a concert violinist.

Though she left Canada as a child and didn’t return permanently until she was 50, Parlow was often billed as “the Canadian violinist.” This caused some consternation in San Francisco ….

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