George Brown Barclay (1863-1940)
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.
Barclay, 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.
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 to obtain two patentsthe
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.
The Barclays 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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