MEMORIES OF FOUNDING FAMILIES
Historical accounts of life in Priddis, provided to us by those who founded our community, their descendants and friends. The following is the first of what we hope to be an expanding collection of mini-biographies about Priddis founding families.
In Memory of Francis Eunice Jessie Shaw
Francis Eunice Jessie Shaw was born in 1913 when children were to be seen and not heard and a women’s place was in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, but for Eunice, life took a different path.
Shortly after Eunice was born her father paid ten dollars to the government for a quarter section of land, three and a half miles south of Priddis, Alberta. As the only child of a farm family, Eunice was taught and expected to work on the land just as any boy would have done. Her father was a progressive thinker who taught his daughter that a woman could do anything she aspired to do, even learn to drive a car when she was only thirteen, so her Dad could open the gates and her Dad could drive the Model T through them.
Social life was limited in rural Alberta but Eunice’s parents were well-educated, avid readers and conversationalists. Eunice remembered Sunday teas WI meetings, the discussion over the Person’s Case and her mother’s first opportunity to cast her vote in an election.
Eunice graduated from high school in 1931, attended Mount Royal Junior College for a year, and was in the first graduating university transfer class in 1932. She then went to normal school located at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Art and when she didn’t get a job upon graduation in 1933, went on to Olds College to do a two-in-one course in agricultural homemaking.
Eunice taught in various rural Alberta schools from 1934 until 1940 when she married George Park. Eunice ran her father’s store in Priddis when he retired George worked for the municipality.
Eunice was involved in her community, was a lifetime member of the Anglican Church of Canada, was a life member of the Westoe WI and wrote the story of it’s history for the book, Our Foothills.
Life for Eunice held it’s challenges. as a young girl she fell off her horse on her way to school and broke her leg. Unfortunately, it didn’t heal correctly so she walked with an unusual gait. Eunice had to take a year off teaching in 1937 to nurse her dying mother. Her father lived with her and George for 23 years until his death in 1963 and that was, I understand, a trying situation at times. George, Eunice’s husband was a traditionalist who was not as well educated as Eunice, was not very sociable but was a workaholic. This situation made life lonely and difficult for Eunice at times, but they stayed together, through the thick and thin of it, for fifty-one years, until George died in 1991. After George’s death, Eunice moved to Trinity Lodge in Calgary where she would no longer have to cook and Clean.
Eunice died in September of 2003 without any immediate family to mourn her passing. Because neither George nor Eunice had any siblings and were not blessed with children, Eunice’s death brought an end to that branch of their families. But Eunice will not be forgotten! She was a feisty women who ruffled more than a few feathers along the way, and she was a veritable walking history book. She taught me a lot about the area in which I now live and always made me feel welcome in her home.
She was an independent woman, born before our society appreciated that characteristic in a woman.
Submitted by Carole McKiel-Kittler
Westoe WI, Priddis, Alberta