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Topic: The Women of Aspenland
Article: Adelaide Montgomery
Date Posted: October 9/2012
Main District: Wetaskiwin
Decades: 1880's to 1950's
Adelaide was of English and Welsh descent. She was born in the village of Roscoe, Illinois, August 8, 1885. Her ancestors came from Andover, England in 1730, settling first at Richmond, Quebec, then in New Hampshire and later Illinois.
In 1894, her family moved to the Canadian Northwest. They set up their homestead at Todd's Crossing on the Battle River (fifteen miles southwest of Wetaskiwin), later moving into Wetaskiwin. Adelaide, with the untiring efforts of her mother and the principal of the school, acquired her education, both musical and academic. There was no high school in Wetaskiwin at that time, so Adelaide was tutored after school hours and in the evening until she was ready to enter Normal School, for it was her ambition to become a teacher. However, the nearest Normal School was in Regina and her parents refused to send her as they felt she was too young to be that far away from home.
For a short time she moved back to the United States with her parents, making their home in Minneapolis. However, on New Year's Eve, 1903, at the young age of eighteen, she married Hugh John Montgomery and returned to Wetaskiwin. Hugh, a native of Bedeque, Prince Edward Island, had moved west in 1898 and had established a mercantile business in Wetaskiwin in 1901.
After her marriage, Adelaide continued her study of music and in 1913 obtained her certificate of Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music. The following year she won the gold medal in the soprano solo competitions and the silver medal in the sight singing at the Alberta Musical Festival. She was one of a double quartet that won a shield at the Provincial Festival held in Edmonton in 1908, the first of its kind to be held in Canada.
She was choir leader and organist in the Anglican Church in Wetaskiwin for many years, and delighted in training junior choirs. Music remained a major interest all her life.
She was a member of the Edmonton branch of the Dickens Fellowship and the Historical Society. Adelaide took an active interest in the Old Timers' Association of Northern Alberta, and just a few weeks before her death was elected president of that body, the first woman to be so honoured. She had a special interest in the Women's Institute, to which she was devoted for many years.
In 1916, she was elected District Director for the Women's Institute. Later she held the offices of Constituency Convenor, Convenor of the Legislation, and in 1929 was unanimously elected president. She held this position for four years. At the conclusion of her term, she became custodian of the Loan Collection and Publicity Convenor for Northern Alberta, and from 1935 to 1945 she was provincial treasurer. Failing health made Adelaide relinquish these onerous tasks in 1945, though she remained Publicity Secretary until 1949, at which time she gracefully retired from provincial office. However, her interest never flagged and she was a tower of strength to later officers who came to her for encouragement and advice, which she gave kindly and generously.
In 1937, she helped compile the history of Alberta Women's Institutes, a booklet greatly prized by W.I. members. She was a life member of the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada, and in 1951, she was honoured with one of the first life memberships in the Alberta Women's Institutes.
Adelaide had two sons, Kenneth Gordon and Lawrence Vaughn. Kenneth was born January 5, 1907 and Lawrence was born December 16, 1909. Lawrence died September 5, 1922 at the age of thirteen after a prolonged illness. Kenneth later lived in Edmonton, where he managed a finance corporation and was a well-known sportsman. In the rank of a Major he served overseas in Holland, England and Germany in WWII. Kenneth's wife Evelyn was president of the Alberta Liberal Women's Association.
Adelaide had two grandchildren: Lawrence Hugh, born July 19, 1929 in Edmonton, Alberta and Douglas Basil Wright, born October 2, 1932 in Edmonton, Alberta. Lawrence married in 1953 and is residing in Edmonton; Doug married in 1956. Adelaide passed on her musical ability to both her sons and grandchildren.
Information compiled in 1999.
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