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Family of first Carstairs mayor gather today for relative's memorial service

31 family members to gather on namesake street, cemetery in Carstairs
MVT Carstairs Downie house-1
A look at the Downie house in Carstairs. Photo courtesy of Doug Downie

CARSTAIRS — Thirty-one relatives and descendants of Carstairs’ first mayor are gathering in the community on Sept. 4.

The occasion is a memorial/celebration of life for Betty Downie.

She passed away in Nov. 21, 2019, but the celebration of her life was postponed until now, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Simon Downie, the first mayor of Carstairs, was Doug Downie’s great-grandfather and Betty, wife of Maurice Downie, was Doug’s mom.

“There’s a street in Carstairs named after my great-grandfather, Downie Street,” Doug said during an interview.

“We’re all going to go over on Downie Street with a sign in there and get our picture taken, the 31 of us.”

Doug said Sept. 4 was chosen because it’s during the long weekend, thereby making it easier for family members to travel there and back. People from as far away as B.C. and Manitoba are expected to make the trek.

In addition to the photo on Downie Street, other plans include a service at the cemetery at 1 p.m. and an open house at the Half Century seniors’ centre from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Doug says Simon Downie and his wife move moved to Carstairs in 1903.

“He opened the first real estate office as soon as he got to Carstairs because he saw there was an opportunity to be selling real estate,” Doug said.

“Right off the bat, he became a government land agent – a government land guide – and he’d go pick up the homesteaders at the train station. 

He had four different buggies that he’d load them up into and they’d take off and he’d go show them where their homesteads were.”

In 1903, the Downies built a grand, huge home in Carstairs. Over the years, the Simon Downie family, the Frank Downie family and the Maurice Downie family lived there until it was eventually sold.

His sons each took a homestead in the area. 

As the years went by, Simon started various businesses with his sons and with a friend who also moved there from Minnesota. 

Those businesses included a lumber company, a stock farm and a mine at Silver Creek, west of Water Valley.

Doug says the Olifunt Bistro and Wine Bar on Osler Street is in the original Downie Aldrich Lumber office, built in 1906. 

He says at least seven direct Downie descendants are buried in the cemetery in Carstairs.


Doug Collie

About the Author: Doug Collie

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