The family still lives on the homestead above the Red Deer River, and on Saturday hosted an open house to mark the occasion. The farm actually turned 100 a couple years ago, but they decided this was the year to celebrate.
“Our actual 100th was in 2008. In 1908 was when he (John) actually applied for the deeds,” said Joanne Tolman, who lives on the farm with her husband Bob, where they raised three sons. “They were here in 1900, but didn’t apply for the deed.”
She says the direct family and neighbours were at the open house. They also received guests from as far away as New Zealand.
The original homesteader was John Tolman. He was born into a Mormon community in Idaho. He married and broke away from the church moving north to Canada in 1892. They first settled in the Cochrane area, and then in Lacombe. While they were in Lacombe, he became a partner in a cattle syndicate called the Crooked Lake Ranching Company with two other ranchers. They began to run cattle as far away as the Rumsey area.
Bob’s grandfather, one of John’s children, and his brother, settled in the area to tend over the herd. The company applied for a township because they needed lots of land to run their cattle. When they were denied, the company was disbanded in 1904, about the same time the area was opened up to homestead. In 1907, John moved the rest of the family to the area.
The area predated Rumsey and a community began with a general store and post office. Joanne said their closest neighbour, the Sengaus family marked their centennial in 2006 and McNaughton farm turned 100 in 2009.
John originally settled at the head of the coulee. The current farmstead is where Bob’s grandfather settled after he was married. With the exception of Bob’s grandfather, all of John’s children moved away from the area. The family is the fifth generation that grew up in the area. The family has acquired more land and today the farm runs a cow-calf operation. It appears the family will remain farming in the area. “We actually have three boys, we’re not sure which one is going to decide to be here,” chuckles Joanne.