A newly restored 110-year-old house in Markerville has a connection to the story of the Lacombe Creamery.
The Buttermaker’s House was built in 1913 by Dan Morkeberg for the Markerville butter maker, William Haine Jackson.
The house is the fifth historic site and the latest project of the Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society (SGSIS) restored in this hamlet.
But the history of the family business didn’t stop there.
As Jackson’s granddaughter Joan Sandham pointed out, William’s eldest son, Wes, would go on to become the creamery manager in Lacombe, coming to town in 1941.
“So there’s this whole history stemming from that Markerville connection,” she said.
Wes’s son, Bill Jackson, who still calls Lacombe home, eventually took on the role of manager here in Lacombe following Wes’s retirement.
This marked three generations of the Jackson family having been involved in the industry.
On top of that, there were also Bowden and Innisfail branches.
“It was all part of Granddad’s career,” said Sandham, who, along with Val Morkeberg, granddaughter of Dan Morkeberg, cut the official ribbon at the home earlier this fall.
These days, Bill and Brenda Jackson have a wealth of memories from the years Bill spent following in his father’s footsteps to manage the Lacombe creamery which was located east of the UFA.
“They started making butter in Markerville, and by the time they opened in Lacombe and Innisfail, they were processing milk, cream, butter, and eggs” explained Brenda.
“It was a huge part of the community,” she said, adding there was also an extremely popular dairy bar at the site for years where local youth landed employment over the years as well.
Bill started his role as manager in 1974 and continued with it through 2004.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of his work was how it provided such a rich connection to the farmer community in particular, including local 4-H clubs.
Like his father Wes, Bill also took an avid interest in many community initiatives, too. It was a family trait, as Wes’s father also took a similar view of community life.
Wes, who passed away in 2002, also became extremely involved in the community including a a stint as mayor.
As Bill and Brenda pointed out, Wes’s passion for Lacombe was striking, and it extended to community service in a variety of ways.
Wes passed away in 2002, but his legacy continued to be honoured in Lacombe at the 2003 Business & Farm Family of the Year and Life Time Achievement Awards, where he was named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The event was put on by the Lacombe Chamber of Commerce.
According to the program, Wes was described as being of active member of many Lacombe clubs and committees.
“He was a Master Mason, a member of the University of Alberta Senate from 1966 to 1971, and one of the founding members of the Maski-Pitoon Historical Society, serving as its president for many years,” according to the chamber.
“Wes’s knack with people became well-known and served him well as a town councilor in 1957 and later as the mayor of Lacombe from 1963 to 1970.”
Bill agreed with the description of his father.
“He encouraged a lot of people,” he said. “Some of the councilors he had (as mayor) might be a little quiet at first, but by the end of their tenure, they were picking up from his energy and his ideas. He left that legacy of planning ahead and (looking to) better things for the community.”
Bill added that his father was adept at looking at the examples of other municipalities and adapting them to suit Lacombe and make life even better for local residents.
Even after leaving politics, Wes’s schedule remained as busy as ever.
He purchased Governor-General Roland Michener’s birthplace (now the Michener House Museum).
The two had also become good friends over the years, so Wes was also able to obtain memorabilia from Michener which helped to paint a more thorough picture of the man’s life and experiences.
Ultimately, because of his tireless efforts to strengthen community life in Lacombe, Wes would eventually become known as ‘Mr. Lacombe’, noted Brenda.
He was also something of an avid photographer — another way his legacy lives on, according to the chamber.
Thousands of his photos chronicling Lacombe’s history have been archived.
“Wes’s memory was nothing short of fantastic, he could remember every little detail and at every opportunity, he promoted Lacombe.”
Meanwhile, back in Markerville, the Buttermaker’s House has been home to 11 different families over the years. And as much as Wes had a passion for the community of Lacombe, Brenda said he held a special connection to the tiny hamlet as well.
After the program and ribbon cutting, which Bill and Brenda attended, guests enjoyed a tour of the Buttermaker’s House to see firsthand the care that was taken in the restoration work.
The Buttermaker’s House will now begin a new life as an artist in residence retreat.