Airdrie has an interesting history. No, really, we do. I had a difficult time choosing what to write. I finally thought about what people see in the city when they are out and about. Places! And places have names. Some of the place names in Airdrie have been named after the pioneers of Airdrie, the people who started Airdrie on the path we are on today.
For many years, the main part of Airdrie was a section. This section was divided between 4 owners. A.E. Bowers owned the S.E. quarter, William Croxford owned the N.W. quarter, R.J. Hawkey the N.E. quarter and CPR the S.W. quarter. The limits of Airdrie were within this Section for many years.
A.E. Bowers and William Croxford came to Airdrie in 1901 from Innisfail. They were brothers in law and worked together to build the first buildings in Airdrie. A barn first and then a house, for A.E. Bowers. This was located on the north side of Centre Ave. and the east side of Main Street. A.E. Bowers added a small building on the north side of his home for a general store and post office and became the first general store owner and postmaster. During this early phase of Airdrie, Bowers also built a small building and rented it for a laundry, built a warehouse that was later enlarged into a gristmill. He operated a farm implement agency and started a lumberyard. He owned the store until 1907, when he and his family moved to Victoria, B.C. The Bowers family returned in 1911 and began building again. They had leased the general store to Mr. Glover and Mr. McCormack and the lease had expired. When they returned to Airdrie, they had found many changes. The Bowers family continued operating the general store until 1918. They sold the store to Dr. W.F. Edwards then, but held onto the house until a year later. They had bought a farm from Colin McArthur in 1913 and that is where they resided after selling the store and house. In 1922, A.E. Bowers was involved in a car accident on the Calgary-Edmonton highway and was killed. His wife lived on the farm until 1954, when she moved to Edmonton to live with her daughter Mabel. Gordon Bowers continued to live on the farm, east of Airdrie.
There is an elementary school named after A.E. Bowers and there is a street in Airdrie called Bowers Street.
William Croxford came to Airdrie with his brother in law, A.E. Bowers. According to Croxford, this area was ‘just open prairie’. Settling on the N.W. quarter of section 12, Croxford had the honor of owning the third building in Airdrie. Church services were held in the Croxford home for a few years. William Croxford donated land for a church to be built in Airdrie. 10 years later the Airdrie Methodist Church was constructed and in 1925 changed names to the Airdrie United Church. In 1903, his parents moved to Airdrie from Innisfail and built a house, barn and slaughterhouse on Croxford’s land. In 1914, the whole works burnt to the ground because of sparks from a passing train. In 1902, Dan McDonald moved a building on to Croxford land and started a boarding house. This became the Airdrie Hotel and later as just The Old Hotel. The Croxford home later became the site of the Airdrie Feed Mill.
There is a cul-de-sac called Croxford Place and a rural neighborhood named for the family that is now just inside Airdrie City Limits.
The third original owner of the beginnings of Airdrie was R.J. Hawkey. The first school in Airdrie was built on Hawkey land. In 1904, the school opened and R.J. Hawkey was the teacher. In 1906, Hawkey and his students decided to raise some money for the school. They held a concert and a box social and a large crowd showed up. The bachelors of the community were hoping to buy the lunch from a young lady and many ending up eating lunch with a very young schoolgirl. It was with these funds raised that R.J. Hawkey ordered the school bell, which was used from 1907 until 1957. The bell now sits in the Museum. R.J. Hawkey was not just a school teacher. At the end of WWI, he opened a bake shop, the first in Airdrie. He went back to teaching because of his health. In 1929, he taught at the District of Glen Rock while his wife taught in Airdrie. Until 1950, R.J. Hawkey ran a dairy, was the Mayor of Airdrie, worked with the School Board and was the treasurer for the United Church.
R.J. Hawkey Elementary School was named in honor of Airdrie’s first teacher and there is a cul-de-sac named Hawkey Crescent.