Family stories tell history of Bragg Creek in new book
Monday, Mar 20, 2017 06:00 am
A corner of Bragg Creek’s history is crafted through the words of long-time resident Siegfried Beckedorf, 87, in his new book Diamonds Everywhere.
Encouraged by family, Beckedorf decided to compile a book with his wife Ursula of stories from their life. They were only halfway through penning the book when Ursula died in September 2015.
“I promised her I’d finish the book we started many years ago,” he said.
Growing up in a small town south of Hamburg, Germany, Beckedorf said he and his two brothers decided to live in Canada for two years before settling in the German business world.
In 1951 at age 21, Beckedorf learned to pick fruit with his brothers on an orchid in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.
“Canada was always adventurous to us,” he said.
When two years had passed, Beckedorf said the trio made a trip to Calgary for the 1953 Stampede. Throughout the festivities, the brothers attended a dance for immigrants at the Polish Canadian Hall.
Wearing jeans and a Hawaiian shirt, Beckedorf said he felt a little embarrassed asking a beautiful woman named Ursula to dance, but she agreed.
“It was at that time that I forgot about going back (to Germany),” he said.
By 1956, Beckedorf and Ursula were wed, while his brother Herb married her twin sister Bridgette.
Settling in Calgary, Beckedorf got a job working with Shell Oil and the couple bought a house in the city. Having grown up in a village surrounded by beautiful trees, he said he planted 42 of them on his property.
A neighbour had suggested the couple go to Bragg Creek for moss to put around the trees, Beckedorf said, to combat the dry climate.
They went, and he said it was only when the two were loading up moss that they wondered why they were nursing trees in the city when they could be moving to where trees already exist.
“That’s what we did,” Beckedorf said.
The year was 1963 when the Beckedorfs bought their first acreage in Bragg Creek and developed it into a weekend home. Their son, Lloyd Beckedorf, said travelling to Bragg Creek was almost like going back in time.
One of their first neighours had a dirt floor in the house and a 22-gauge shotgun by her side at all times to shoot any mice that got in, Lloyd said.
“Those are only stories you heard from the 1800s,” he said. “Those are things I grew up with.”
Three years later, Beckedorf said the opportunity to buy more land in Bragg Creek arose. The family selling claimed there were too many trees for ranching on the 320 acres, he said.
Always a bit adventurous, Beckedorf told his wife he’d quit his job with Shell to enter the real estate business and find a partner to buy the property with. Ursula was hesitant, he said, because he already had a good job.
“This opportunity can never come back,” Beckedorf said he told her.
Medical doctors Michael and Priscilla Barnes showed an interest in the land and the two families were able to purchase it together, which he said the Barnes still own to this day.
By 1970, the Beckedorf’s had made Bragg Creek their permanent home.
The book’s subtitle is “A Journey to Bragg Creek, Alberta,” and he said the family had a goal to get to know and become a part of the community.
“We were determined to make that our place to live,” Beckedorf said. “That’s what the book is all about.”