The following pages are a brief history of the Kelts, Slater, Houston, and Redel families. For a number of years I have thought about writing this book and a few years back I finally started it. I have one regret, that I did not start when some of the older members of our family were alive to pass on information. My thanks to many members of the family for their time, materials and help in compiling this book. My special thanks to Lloyd Wright. I would also like to acknowledge the following people who have died Jean Anderson, Gert Doherty, Evelyn McLeod, June Schloss and Erdine Bell for their help and material. Thanks to Lorence Isaman for his help in reproducing the photos in this book. I apologize for any errors or omissions.
Family names were derived from many sources in the medieval times. Some came from physical features, some from the occupation of the persons etc. The name Kelts means a wood dweller and Houston broken down means Hugh's town. The Slater name comes from a roofer, a person that layed slate on a roof.
In 1872, Canada passed the Dominion Land Act which offered free homesteads to settlers, in hopes of increasing the population of the prairie provinces. The act offered one quarter section of land to a homesteader for a filing fee of ten dollars. In return the settler was expected to break the land and build a dwelling and live on the land for three years.
With tough times in the British Isles and the end of the Napolean Wars causing much uncertainty, the aggressive advertising o£ the Land Act in Europe paid off with the coming of immigrants to Canada and the United States. The completion of the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1885 made movement to the prairies much easier. The railroad and the growth of the market brought good prices for goods. Yet, dry spells, hail, frost, early snows, disease, grasshoppers and other mishaps often reversed a promising beginning. With good fortune or bad these settlers were strong, remaining in Canada to bring about the Canada we enjoy today.
During the years of settlement many immigrants travelled to the United States and later moved to Canada where good land was available at low prices. Near the turn of the century the Kelts, Slater, Houston and Redel families moved to Alberta from North Dakota and Scotland. How fortunate we are that these people took up the challenge and came to Canada.
When our ancestors arrived in Alberta in the early nineteen hundreds, this was a vast land with few white people, The first white man, Anthony Henday of the Hudson Bay Company, came in 1754.
The North West Mounted Police came and established Fort MacLeod in 1874 and the railroad came in 1885. in 1885 the population of Alberta was 6,800, by 1901 it had increased to over 73,000 and by 1906 it boomed to over 185,000. The largest centre near Consort was Stettler.
Alberta became a province in 1905 with A. C. Rutherford the first premier. The big settlement period was from 1890 - 1906 with most good land gone by 1914. This was the period when our families came to Alberta.
Can you imagine the courage it took to leave a developed country and head out to an unknown country many miles away? They lived in sod houses and endured cold weather and isolation. They did not have cars, roads, electricity, telephones. How could they live without T.V.? No they did not have these conveniences nor at the start did they have cream separators, proper plows, threshing machines, tractors or the convenience of the old kitchen stove.
These early people had a great sense of neighbourliness, from all that I have heard they had great times at church socials, dances and house parties where there were no baby sitters but you brought the kids to the party and they slept wherever there was room. I know I would not want to go back to these difficult times but I do envy them the closeness they enjoyed rather than the mistrust and selfishness of today.
We should be very grateful to our early families for taking the big chance of coming to this country and allowing us to enjoy the standard of living that we enjoy today.
I dedicate this book to the memory of Marion and Ethel Kelts.