Kinnondale

Located about thirty-five miles southwest of Brooks and twenty-five due south of Bassano, Kinnondale was, for a short time, the hub of what is now eastern Vulcan County.

Kinnondale was named after John Crawford McKinnon of Bruce, Ontario, one of the region’s first settlers. After homesteading in 1908, McKinnon opened the first store in the district and would lend his name to, and serve as postmaster for, the area’s first post office – “Kinnondale”. As settlers continued to pour into the region, the hopeful pioneers of the Kinnondale district petitioned the province for a school. On January 10, 1910, the Kinnondale School District No. 2096 was created by provincial Order-in-Council, with the school opening a year later in February, 1911.

The first settlers of the Kinnondale district were convinced they had laid claim to a land on the verge of greatness. In September, 1910, a correspondent for the Brooks Banner newspaper (later to become the Brooks Bulletin) penned an editorial introducing readers to the Kinnondale district:

“…As an agricultural district Kinnondale is going to rank among the very best in Alberta. The soil is perfectly adapted to grain growing. Grain ripens here two weeks earlier than at Lethbridge, Granum or High River, consequently there is little or no danger from frost. Irrigation is unnecessary. Although very little grain was grown last year, it was of excellent quality, and the seed put into the ground last spring made a much better effort to grow than was made in many other districts.

During the last three weeks we have had an abundance of rain. In fact there is sufficient moisture in the ground right now to insure a good crop next year. Everyone who can is now plowing, discing and harrowing, preparing the ground so that seeding can be done as soon as the soil is fit in the spring. It takes more than one dry year to discourage a resident of Kinnondale. Although hard hit this year, no one is grumbling or discouraged, but on the contrary, is full of buoyancy and hope. We can’t sport an auto, but each has his motto; ‘Better luck next time’.”

It did indeed take more than one dry year to discourage most residents of Kinnondale. However, with only a bumper harvest in 1915 to show for nearly a decade of backbreaking labour, the optimism of even the hardiest settlers began to wane. Even J.C. McKinnon, founding father of Kinnondale, began to see the writing on the wall. In the dry years following the First World War, McKinnon would move his store south one mile to the more heavily travelled “Bow City Road” (now Secondary Highway 539) where he would construct a hall, which was eventually sold and moved south to the community of Travers. Like most in the district, the enterprising McKinnon eventually gave up on Kinnondale. In November of 1921, McKinnon and his family finally packed it in, moving on to what were hopefully greener pastures in the Rosebud area west of Drumheller.

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