George Mobley, pioneer builder of Lacombe

An official government survey map prepared by J. McAree in 1893 showed a log cabin at the south end of Gull Lake

HOWARD FREDEEN

An official government survey map prepared by J. McAree in 1893 showed a log cabin at the south end of Gull Lake where the township line now intersects the lake shore. McAree identified the owner of this cabin as a squatter named George Gale Mobley, the first known settler in what is now the Summer Village of Gull Lake. Immigration records show 1893 as the year Mobley and his son Frank arrived in Canada so it is obvious he wasted no time in claiming squatter’s rights.

When the area was officially surveyed those rights were trumped by a land grant issued to the Hudson`s Bay Company (part of the agreed compensation for the territory initially granted by King Charles II to the ‘Company of Adventurers’). However, full title was restored to George by a Dominion Land Grant dated May 7, 1897. He subsequently sold this property to William Weise and today it comprises the east end of the summer village.

George was born in Washington County, Ohio in 1847. The Mobley family moved to Iowa where, in 1863 he and his two brothers enlisted in the Iowa 7th Cavalry. When the war concluded George settled in Cripple Creek, Colorado and in 1868 married Mary Frances Reed. The couple had three sons. When this marriage ended in divorce, he left Colorado with his 20 year-old son Frank and headed to Canada.

At Gull Lake he established a reputation as a first class carpenter and was in high demand by settlers in the neighboring community of Lacombe. He built Mobley Hall at the north end of Nanton St. This became the centre for meetings of the Town council and all community meetings including the Lacombe Agricultural Society. In 1895 he built the Puffer shop-residence near the north end of Nanton and the adjacent boarding house that was later operated by the Maxfield family. Subsequently he built the imposing Puffer residence on the CE Trail, the Puffer-Chung Block on Nanton north of the Victoria Hotel and the first Catholic church (1903) located on the lot sold to Legion in 1949.

He married Annie Laidlow Fernie (1867-1951), daughter of the pioneer Presbyterian Minister Rev. John Fernie, on Jan. 12, 1898, and they raised two children, John Fernie Mobley and Victor Laidlaw Mobley. In 1906, he purchased a half section in the name of his wife and in partnership with William Wiese, Edward Martin and Robert Scott prepared a development plan of 72 lots for this area. It is said that the name Aspen Beach derived from the name they chose for this development.

George maintained an active interest in Lacombe for two decades, serving as mayor in 1908. He and Anne also owned a Millenary and Dry Goods shop in Lacombe. The Mobley family left the Lacombe area circa 1912 and relocated at Kualt, in the Salmon Arm area of B.C. This was the mill site of the Columbia River Lumber Co. The mill had burned down in 1913 and George was hired to dispose of any of the remaining assets. He was given residence until his contract was finished. He died in 1919 in Kamloops.

Maskepetoon, the Lacombe Historical Society, is indebted to Carroll Atkinson for initiating contact with the Mobley family. At that time she was the acting executive director of the Society. The Mobley web site includes a photo of G.G. Mobley and his second family taken at Lacombe August 1909 in the studio of John Scales.

G.G.’s son Frank also took an active role in Lacombe’s business community. In partnership with Bradshaw he was operating the Albion, a licensed hotel said to have been built for Col. James Walker of Calgary. They sold to Inskip in 1897 (after the fire of 1906 the hotel was rebuilt as the Lacombe Hotel) and Frank left Lacombe with D.G. Stewart, also of Lacombe, to develop a mercantile business in Atlin, B.C. While living here he served several terms as the elected MLA for this B.C. constituency.