People

Wallace + Margaret WELLINGTON

Written by Canmore Museum

Wallace and Margaret Wellington and their three daughters, Diane, Beverley and Heather, came to the Bow Valley in 1958. They came from Mercoal, AB, which was part of the Coalbranch. As each mine closed down, you just moved to the next one. That was how we came to Canmore, along with other families. Some went to work at the Canmore Mines, but Wally chose to work at the rockwool plant at Gap Lake on the 1A highway. The rockwool plant produced insulation.

Margaret ran the restaurant at Gap Lake, a very pretty restaurant with a beautiful view of the lake. It had a lovely dining room with whitecloth tables, and a huge rock fireplace. Then it had a U-shaped counter with spin-top stools for the pop and chip gang. Many people came to the restaurant on their Sunday drive on the scenic 1A highway as the TransCanada Highway was just being built. Just as today, the sheep were part of the scenery. The 1A was a winding highway with S-bends and steep hills.

From there, we moved to Canmore and lived at Katie Antonick’s, who owned a couple of houses on Fourth Street. She had chickens, which was not uncommon, as the Johansens next door to the Pool Hall on the corner of 7th Street had them as well.

After moving to Canmore, Wally went to work for Banff National Park, and, along with others, maintained the beautiful Administration Grounds in Banff. Later, Wally was self-employed as the local handyman and gardener for many people in Banff. Wally was always known for his large pet dogs. One dog, named Chico, was always with Wally so they were known as “Chico and the Man”. One of Wally’s favourite coffee stops was the Gulf restaurant which is where the new McDonalds is to be. One time he went for gas. The car was still running while he was inside. Chico flipped the gear into reverse, with the gas hose still in the car. The attendant flipped off the switch and saved the day but Wally was always teased after that, “Had Chico done much driving lately?” Wally passed away on December 18, 1991.

Margaret worked in Banff, first at the Archway Motel, where the Rocky Mountain Resort is today, then at the Banff School of Fine Arts (The Banff Centre), and then Mineral Springs Hospital from which she retired in 1983. She still resides in the valley, living at the Bow River Senior Apartments. Over the years, she has knitted a number of cozy afghans for other seniors. Their daughters married. Diane lives in Texas, Beverley in Nova Scotia, and Heather in Canmore – so their family of five grew to seventeen, including six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Wallace Wellington standing on the Canmore Hotel corner with Cummings house across the street.

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