A BRIEF HISTORY OF EAGLESHAM - BY PEGGY ULLAND
|Eaglesham is located in the center of the area that it serves, the east half of the County of Birch Hills, a basically flat plain bounded on the east by the Smoky River and on the north by the Peace. There is a population of about 800, most of whom are supported by farming, ranching, the petroleum industry, trucking or one of the service industries.
The first settlers came to the Watino and Belloy districts about 1915, when the railway was built. From then on they gradually cleared the forests, replacing the seasonal migrations of natives and a sparse population of trappers. Tangent, Eaglesham and Codesa districts were settled extensively from 1928 to 1932, especially close to the railway line, by groups of French-speaking people from Quebec and Manitoba. At the same time, a group of Norwegian ancestry came from the US to the Fox Creek district. Many of Ukrainian and Polish origin came to Belloy and Codesa. During the 1930's, families came to all of these districts from the Canadian prairies to escape the drought. The last notable settlement occurred soon after World War II, when a government-backed land clearing scheme offered small farms to veterans in blocks near Belloy, Codesa, north Eaglesham, and north Tangent. I
In 1955 Belloy, Codesa, Eaglesham, Tangent and Watino were busy hamlets which could supply the large population with most of its needs. There were general stores, grain elevators, auto and machine agencies, hardware stores, lumber yards, a daily passenger and express train in each direction, and many freight trains. Each district had a one-roomed school teaching Grades I to VIII. There were at least eight church congregations.
Since then, technology has brought about great change. Successful farmers and ranchers have bought out many of the small family farms. People are able and willing to drive great distances for business, shopping and recreation. Ethnic backgrounds have blurred. Only Eaglesham remains as a center while the other hamlets have shrunk to small residential communities or have vanished.
Modern Eaglesham has a population of about 150. We still have a post office with a full-time postmaster. We have the only school remaining and it has about 200 students in Kindergarten to Grade XII. Some of these students are bussed from as far as 30 miles. There is an ice arena and curling rink which are busy in winter and a golf course busy in summer. Businesses include a grocery store, two machine repair shops, a large petroleum sales centre, three farm chemical outlets, sub-office of a bank, a seed cleaning plant, the office of a petroleum company, a restaurant, a motel, and a hotel. There are two church congregations: the Catholics of Eaglesham and Tangent combined, and the Free Evangelical Church of Eaglesham.