Founding father left legacy for daughters
Okotoks: Elizabeth, Elma Streets named after John Lineham's children
Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018 06:00 am
A Road by Any Other Name is a new monthly series in the Western Wheel, which will tell the histories behind Okotoks’ street names, starting with two of its most iconic downtown roads.
Two of Okotoks’ most recognized downtown streets are a legacy to the daughters of one of the town’s founding fathers.
John Lineham was an Okotoks pioneer from Ontario who ran the Lineham Lumber Company in Okotoks and High River and the Lineham Ranch, both with his brother W.D. Lineham. John served two one-year terms as mayor of the Town of Okotoks in 1909 and 1910.
He and his wife, Minnie (Mary Elizabeth) had two daughters: Elma, born in 1896 and Elizabeth, born in 1898. Elizabeth was nicknamed Bess by her family.
Their names are memorialized in two downtown Okotoks streets.
“Their father was influential in Okotoks, so he seemed to have a lot of weight in terms of naming of the streets,” said museum specialist Kathy Coutts.
John also named Martin Ave., going up the hill west of Northridge Dr., after his wife – Martin was Minnie’s maiden name. And, of course, there is a Lineham Ave. just east of the Okotoks Art Gallery.
With two years separating them, the Lineham sisters shared many of their childhood experiences in Okotoks. In the town’s history book, A Century of Memories, compiled in 1983, Elma wrote a passage about her family, including memories of growing up in Okotoks and area.
“One of the things I enjoyed was skating on the River [sic] when it was frozen – when we came back to the mill, our group (cousins mostly) made a big bonfire and later went up to our house for some of Miss Smith’s goodies,” Elma wrote.
She said they also spent a lot of time at both the Lower Lineham Ranch, five miles east of Okotoks at the time, and the Upper Lineham Ranch, which would have been 22 miles west of Okotoks, just west of present-day Turner Valley.
In 1901, Minnie died and the girls were cared for by their Grandmother Martin and Aunt Fred. In 1902, their grandmother passed away and Aunt Fred continued to care for them until she married Ashworth Anderson in 1910.
The Andersons bought a house on Elma St., across from where the Lineham house had been moved after the flood in 1902. It had previously been located along the Sheep River.
When Aunt Fred moved to Vancouver in 1911, Elma and Elizabeth were sent with them to attend boarding school at Crofton House. Though it is no longer a boarding school, since 1990 the old dormitory has been used as the private school’s administrative building.
“They were here until 1911 and that’s when they moved to Vancouver, although they would return here in the summers because their dad was still here,” said Coutts. “They were born and grew up here, but after they moved to boarding schools they really had less to do with Okotoks. That became their home, and they both were married and lived in B.C.”
Elma married Allan DesBrisay and they had two daughters – Mary, born in 1921 and Diana, born in 1927. Elizabeth was married to Frank McKay and they had one son, Frank, in 1926.
John Lineham named more than streets after his family. There was also a building named Elma Block at 132-8 Ave. S.E. in Calgary, which eventually burned down.
“He named a lot of things after his family,” said Coutts. “It must have been kind of neat for Elma though, to have grown up on the street that was named for her.”