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George Brown Barclay (1863-1940)                               

George Brown Barclay in Michigan. [ca. 1890s] Not all Alberta inventors experience great luck in their careers. As one can see in the experience of George Brown Barclay, it was sometimes quite difficult to translate good ideas into fruitful ventures.

A portrait of George Brown Barclay, Western Carriage Works employee, ca. 1920sBarclay, born in Illinois in 1863, moved his family to Alberta in 1905. They purchased a small parcel of land near Gull Lake, in the Meadowbrook district and proceeded to set up a small farming operation. Having little success at farming, less than a decade later, the Barclay family moved to Calgary in pursuit of something different.

George Brown Barclay family on Barclay homestead, Meadowbrook, Alberta. L-R: George Brown Barclay; Mary Barclay; Frank Barclay; Mrs. George Brown Barclay; Catherine Barclay. [ca. 1920s] In Calgary, Barclay found work as a well-driller and his wife, Elsie, established a dressmaking business. Although Barclay struggled for many years to manifest his inventions, most of the time he was unsuccessful. Although frustrated, he pressed on, managing toBarclay family outside home, Calgary, Alberta. L-R: Catherine Barclay; George Brown Barclay; Frank Barclay; Mary Barclay; Mrs. George Brown Barclay. [ca. 1914-1915] obtain two patents—the first for sheet metal pipe that could easily be attached to other pipes and following that, a rein holder. Their son, George Franklin Barclay worked as an accountant for the Department of National Revenue.

School teachers Mary Belle and Elsie Catherine, ca. 1922The Barclay’s two daughters, Mary Belle and Elsie Catherine became school teachers, teaching in a variety of Alberta schools. In 1933, they parlayed their interest in the outdoors into establishing the Canadian Youth Hostels Association. The first of the official youth hostel in North America was built in Bragg Creek the same year.


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