This is a legacy for John (Jack) Haysom Morgan who was very kind hearted, a loving family man, and a respected community minded person of the Pincher Creek area. He was a wonderful Dad, grandfather and great-grandfather, and is missed by his family and friends. His contributions were results of his positive and outgoing personality as well as his pioneer family history. This history and his autobiography largely are based on his own recollections. Jack had a keen mind for the past which he generously shared with others.
Jack received his first name in honour of his Dad Jack and his middle name which was his Mom Elsie’s surname. Jack descended from a pioneer family of Pincher City (Pincher Station). His grandfather Richard Walter Morgan came from Ontario and was a dispatcher for C.P.R. in Cranbrook. Later in 1907, Richard and Lenore settled at Pincher City where they built and operated a General Store for seven years. In Jack’s own words, they sold a little bit of everything. This included groceries, clothing and hardware items. The store unfortunately burned in 1914 but the Morgans were undaunted and forged on. For a couple years they farmed just west of Pincher City. The land now belongs to Leo Robbins.
Richard and Lenore moved to Pincher Creek where they established one of the settlement’s first garages. Known as Pincher Creek Motors, it served as the General Motors outlet. Richard’s brother Lance also established a GM garage in Blairmore, located across the street from the Greenhill Hotel. The Pincher Creek Motors’ location on East Avenue, where the Post Office now sits, was part of the old highway route that went through town. Established in 1916, this was the era when motorized vehicles were becoming popular, so the timing of the garage was ideal. This was a brick building that extended east into the alleyway – to the north were several bays where the mechanical work was completed. There were two gas pumps facing the garage on the street- the utilitarian grade was the most popular with customers. Jack remembers that the gas business was particularly busy during the Second World War when the Army Corps was based out of the Armories, located just south of where Matthew Halton High School was built. Upstairs above the garage was a small family apartment where Richard and Lenore resided.
Jack Morgan was born on October 18th, 1932, one of two children born to Jack Morgan Sr. and his wife Elsie Haysom. Jack had an older sister Lenore. Jack attended elementary school in the old Public School two blocks to the east where Central School later was located. His later education was in the old Pincher Creek High School, located upstairs in the two-storey 1912 Town Hall across the street from the garage. Jack smiled when he told us his favorite part of school was dismissal time. The school washrooms were located in the basement alongside the town jail which provided a great opportunity to visit with the prisoners.
Pincher Creek Motors was operated by three generations of the Morgan Family. Jack’s father operated the business for years as did Jack. Jack recalled he would much rather work than attend classes.
In 1947, the Morgans sold their East Avenue garage to the Pincher Creek Coop. They moved their business to its new location at the corner of Main Street and Bridge Avenue. This too was along the highway route as it meandered through town. Previously this had been the Hub Cigar Store. An unusual building feature was its drive through archway which sheltered the gas pumps from the inclement weather. Next door was the Colpman’s Drug Store which had a soda counter. A small cabinet door accessed both businesses and was where garage staff could order their favorite treats. As in Jack’s words, Donna Barclay Elliott made very good milk shakes, sundaes and banana splits. General Motors vehicles were sold out of the garage. Two were on display in the show room and several others in the open car lot to the west. Additional vehicles were stored in Gaston Rigaux’s storage building located on the north side of the creek and east of the highway. The Pincher Creek Motors rented this building. The garage also was a favorite visiting spot for local fellows who loved to swap stories, some true and some embellished. Jake Smith, Damase Therriault and Gerald Simpson were some of the regulars. When the garage was sold in 1974, gasoline sold for 50 cents a gallon. Over the years, Pincher Creek Motors received two awards from General Motors. One was an electric desk lamp and brass plaque received for the garage’s 25th anniversary in 1941 and the second is a plaque for its 50th anniversary celebrated in 1966. These milestones really pleased Jack.
Jack Morgan was raised in town. His first residence as a youngster was in the log house at the west end of town later owned by the Turcotts. When Jack was about twelve years old, the family moved to a house they had built on Adelaide Street. It is noted for its verandah and spruce trees. It backed onto Pincher Creek, hence Jack’s interest in fishing. As an adult, Jack and Joan lived on Morden Avenue for several years. Later, they moved back to his childhood home on Adelaide Street.
Jack spent many happy occasions fishing as a child behind the family residence. He also was an avid swimmer in the old swimming hole in the canyon at the west end of town. Jack enjoyed playing baseball with his friends and was a member of the Chinooks baseball team in 1953 which played a very competitive set of games in Melfort, Saskatchewan. The Chinooks also won the Alberta championships. During winters, Jack skated on outdoor rinks on the north side of the creek, where the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village is located and along the east side of Bridge Avenue. Hockey was a pastime in youth and as an adult, the latter being with the oldtimers team. Jack had a passion for the sport and after game comradery included wrestling and socializing. After several years, this angered Joan so much so that she went looking for him, couldn’t find him and went home to burn his hockey pants. Many years later, it was discovered the pants belonged to Spike Cyr. As an adult, Jack coached hockey and baseball.
The Morgan family had a cabin out at Beauvais Lake. It was built in the early 1930s and was one of three dwellings out there at the time. This frame structure featured a kitchen, living room and bedroom and was heated by a wood burning stove. Located on the north shore, Jack had to help with its cribbing when a dam was constructed at the east end of the lake. This raised the water levels and Jack gathered rocks for the cribbing. Access to the lake was via a dirt road coming to the lake’s east end, a route that became a mud hole every time it rained. Many happy family times were spent there fishing and boating. Suckers were fed to the bears. Jack was there for several summers as a youngster and adult.
Following the sale of the garage, Jack worked at the Shell Waterton Plant and for the Municipal District of Pincher Creek. He purchased his ranch in the Mountain Mill district in 1985. Jack raised cattle and crops there. The ranch is dissected by Mill Creek and was the site of an oil rig drilling in 1930. This history fascinated Jack as did finding archeological remains on the property. Jack remained on the ranch until 2020 when he moved to Crestview Lodge. Jack Buffalo, as a few members of his family fondly called him, enjoyed watching old westerns and reading good books.
Jack is sadly missed by his family. Jack’s wife was Joan Calkins who hailed from Lacombe, Alberta. They met when she came down to Pincher Creek to work in the Royal Bank housed in the massive stone building next to the garage on East Avenue. Jack and Joan were married in 1953. Joan passed away in 2016. Together they had five children. Jack is survived by Bryan (Shari), Cathy (Darryl), Barry (Carla), Barbara (Allan) and Shawn; grandchildren: Alexandra (Matt), Chad (Corri), Brenna (Greg), Kayleigh (Jesse), Jenaye (Michael), Justin, Brandon (Jan), Brittney (Lucas), Nicholas (Hope), Robyn (Logan), Martyna (Dylan), Charissa (Branden); and great-grandchildren: Milo, Madden, Maverick, Myles, Keely, Brynley and one on the way. Jack also was predeceased by his parents Jack Sr. and Elsie, wife Joan, sister Lenore (Ron), sister-in-law Beth (Hap), brothers-in-law Allan (Jackie), Jack (Barb) and Cork (Addie). He is survived by his brother-in-law Chub (Irmgard).
Jack was blessed to have many lifelong friends, some of whom were Jack Petersen, Larry Davis, Spike Cyr, Ronnie Brown, Bryan Walker, Bob Colpman, Jack Johnson, Henry Louey, Emil Ganske, Russell and Earl Ensign, James Bowersock, Ray DeGood, and a special friend Agnes Lee.
An outdoor service will be held on July 31, 2021, more information is forthcoming.
Donations may be made to the Windy Slopes Health Foundation (P.O. Box 2554, Pincher Creek, AB T0K 1W0) or the Crestview Lodge (P.O. Box 1058, Pincher Creek, AB T0K 1W0) in memory of Jack.
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