3

Antler Valley Farm was established in 1890 by Ephriam McAllister.

Art McAllister 1932 - Current
Antler Valley Farm

From Sod Shacks and Wagon Tracks

 

After graduating from Red Deer composite High School in 1951, Art joined his Dad in the farming operation, on the land that his Grandfather McAllister homesteaded in 1890.

 

A severe hailstorm in the fall of 1951 decreased the harvest income considerable, so he chose to do some "off farm" labour. Art was fortunate to find employment at the Penhold Airport on a construction crew for the winter months. The eight hundred dollars Art saved from that winter job enabled him to buy his first car, a second-hand blue Ford.

 

Because Art enjoyed dancing, he accompanied Earle Purcell to an annual "Boxing Day Barbeque Dance" at the Markerville Hall. There he met a blonde, Icelandic girl, Marge, eldest daughter of Albert and Phyllis Johannson. She was a faithful member of the Markerville 4-H Food and Clothing Club, and in the fall of 1951 Marge and a friend, Dana Morkerberg, competed in the Provincial 4-H Food Club competition held in Olds. They won the Provincial level and this then gave them the right to represent Alberta at the Canadian National Competitions, which were held in Toronto. Marge and Dana won the National Competition and Art began to think one of them might be a pretty "good catch".

 

In the spring of 1952, Art began courting Marge. She graduated from Innisfail High School that year, and worked in Red Deer as a secretary at Dowler Agencies and then as a telephone operator for A.G.T.

 

With great plans in mind, Art undertook his first experience in carpentering in 1953-54, a two bedroom house Art built on the homestead. He purchased the lumber for their first home from Art Johnson's sawmill at Caroline and hauled it home in their one-ton truck.

 

Marge and Art were married on April 10, 1954 in the quaint little Icelandic Lutheran Church in Markerville. Although they were the third generation of homestead families, they too, experienced a taste of the pioneering days. Their home was heated with a coal and wood cookstove and Marge put her 4-H knowledge to good use on the same stove. They had running water, but the "running" was to the pump just outside the back door.

 

Along with the grain farming they also had beef and dairy cows, hogs and chickens. In addition to this, Art did mechanical work for Bill Deniff in Innisfail during the winter months for the first four years of their marriage.

 

They were blessed with their first child, Teresa Marie on April 9, 1958. Art recalls that Cliff and Nan Doan were the first visitors to come and see their new baby after they brought her home. Also in 1958, the new No. 2, four lane highway was built, dividing the home farm in half.

 

They then made a big decision. Having the opportunity to buy land two miles south, they purchased the Elmer Brown place and left the original McAllister homestead. Before moving to their new farm they did a great deal of remodeling and building.

 

The lumber that was used to build the barn on their new farm was bought from Tomchuck Construction, the contractor who built the underpasses on No. 2 Highway. These materials were the frames used to construct the cement underpasses. The new barn consisted of a milking parlor and loafing barn, plus a hog farrowing and weaning barn. The following year they built a feeder building and sleeping barn for the finishing hogs.

 

While Art was building barns, Marge was remodelling and fixing up Elmer's little house working towards their goal of improving their home. She was planning the landscaping of the yard, plus making a beginning on collecting field stones and other "boulders".

 

In 1960 they started a backhoe business in partnership with George Howell, McAllister and Howell Excavating. They hired Leonardo Abraham as an operator. He worked with the business until they sold it to him in 1966.

 

August 9, 1961 was an exciting day for Art and Marge. Their son, Wayne Arthur, arrived in this world and has brought them much happiness from that very day.

 

They continued to expand the farming operation by renting Art's uncle's (J.W. McAllister) land. As each day passed it seemed like it was work, work, work! However, they did have some social activities.

 

They had become very involved with community affairs, annual barbeques, turkey suppers, card parties, church and Christmas concerts. Art was a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, then joined the Rotary Club. Art developed a fondness for curling, sleding and trail riding in the west country. Meanwhile, Marge continued to landscape the yard, remodel, strip and paint walls.

 

They had a very special New Year in 1966, as their youngest daughter, Donna Lynn was born on January 2 and was Innisfail's New Years Baby.

 

In the late 60's and early 70's they sold their dairy herd and expanded the grain operations by renting more land. They also added to their farm site by constructing a machine shed, shop, and another addition to the house.

 

Wayne became more active in taking over the family farming operation. Since he was living on the original homestead with his wife, Sherri, he began to operate out of the original farm yard.

 

Living in the Antler Hill district, Art and Marge saw many changes, made good friends and neighbours and made a lot of our dreams come true. Marge's Icelandic heritage kept the coffee pot brewing continuously for their family and numerous friends. They were always happy to have anyone drop in for a cup of hospitality.

 

Marge passed away in 2008.

 

Since then, Art has moved into Innisfail. He frequents the original homestead often checking in on his son, Wayne and grandsons, Wade and Scott to see what is new at Antler Valley Farm.