Nanton, Alberta – One of the many small towns my grandparents taught school at.  I’m not sure why they moved around Alberta so much. I never asked that question so I’ll never know.

Nanton is a pretty little town.  It’s less than an hour drive south of Calgary. As of this date, there are 2, 000 people living there.  I wonder how many people resided in Nanton in 1952 and 1953 when Nellie and Albert Arlendson taught school there.   How did they end up working in Nanton?  It will always be a mystery.

My mom was a high school student during my grandparents stint in Nanton.  Imagine your teacher being your dear old dad.   Another teacherage to live in.  According to my mom, the teacherage was in the “crummy part of town, next to the junkyard”.  The three teacherages still stand today, in the crummy part of town.

Nellie and Albert’s home

Gloria was a very helpful attendant as we searched Nanton history in the Library.   She contacted people who contacted people and by 4:00 pm (which is the time “people” meet at their favorite coffee shop) , we were heartily greeted by Rita Green and Carol Evans.  These two friendly ladies helped us figure out who would be the best people to talk to about my grandparents.
Unfortunately, most of those people have passed along by now, but my mom’s high school best friend,  who now lives in Calgary, Jean Moore (Coutts) offered these words:  “In 1952-53 I was in grade 12 at Nanton.  Your grandfather taught grade 12 math.  Mr Arlendson was a real gentleman.  I remember his lovely smile and how he loved to dance.  I can still see him and your mother foxtrotting at the Nanton Community Hall.  He was an excellent math teacher and thanks to him I aced my algebra and trig exams.  I can see him in my mind’s eye at the blackboard explaining how to work math problems – he was very intelligent and was never stumped by questions from the class”.   I KNEW IT.
Jean’s  brother, Jim Coutts, whose phone number I obtained from Judy Armstrong (a past client of ours from 2002) added that my grandfather “loved jazz music and especially loved drums”.  Apparently, Nellie and Albert partied occasionally at Jake Berger’s farm.  I uncovered a photograph in the Nanton archives of Jake’s band.   Dancing with my ‘Poppa’ began when I turned sixteen.  He had so much rhythm and it was fun to take to the dance floor with him.  I truly felt special. It’ s obvious that my love of music and dancing is genetic.
Jake Berger’s Band (from archives)
Another discovery – an NHL’er was born in Nanton – Johnny McKenzie, brother to my mom’s high school sweetheart.  Small towns definitely have their stories to tell.
Inspite of the amazingly rough Spring weather this year in Southern Alberta, we captured a few images of the Town of Nanton that will remain in our memories, long past the years that my grandparents taught children there.  I know they were proud of their careers and I would love to hear more memories of their time in Nanton.
Below:  My mom’s Grade 12 class
Original Main Street, original hotel on left.
Hotel now, 2012

Scenes from around town

This entry was posted in Business, Editorial project, Nanton, Teacherage. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Hi, for the last couple of months I’ve been conducting an inventory of a farmstead in Nanton that was donated to the University of Lethbridge. I’ve been asked to prepare a report and a presentation for September. I’m no photographer, but in this post your photos have really captured the feel that Nanton has for me. I would love to include a few of your shots in my report and presentation. Would that be alright with you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *