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Bentley, Settlement

Before settlers flowed into the Blindman Valley, the great Cree Chief, Maskepetoon (meaning Broken Arm) from the early 1800s made his influence known. On the top of the Sunset Hill he learned through his fasting vision that he must make peace with his traditional enemies, the Blackfoot Nation. Early missionaries in the area came to know him as the "Great Man of Peace."

By 1895, homestead land came available in the Blindman Valley. Families and bachelors from all walks of life from the United States, England, Scandinavia and Europe came flocking in to reap the touted spoils of this fertile green valley. They travelled by train to Lacombe and then by horse and wagon or oxen and on foot. Supplies were hauled from Lacombe to the east side of Gull Lake, loaded on a boat, the "Sea Gull," and carried over to Brownlow's Landing on the south end and then delivered to the settlement of Bentley.

The first settlers arrived in the district during the years of 1888 to 1900 and were mainly from the United States. Many of these settlers walked, or drove oxen or horses to Lacombe, which was the closest railroad station. In 1899, Major McPherson and four of his sons filed homesteads on adjacent quarters in township 40, the hub of which became the intersection of McPherson Avenue and Murray Street. As the need arose, these enterprising pioneers, many with professional and industrial trades, opened up businesses. Lumber was essential so a sawmill started and a boat called "The Kangaroo" was built to haul logs down the lake to the mill. Anglican and Methodist churches arose log by log. A general merchant was a necessity, so Archie Putland and Frank Thorpe went into business and the Merchants Bank appeared on Main Street. Out on the homesteads, crops and livestock thrived.

A post office mailing address was needed, so possible names were collected. The Government chose the name on the top of the list being Bentley (an early homesteader) and the village was named. The name Oxford was given to the first School District. The post office was first located in the mercantile store with W.B. McPherson as first postmaster and storekeeper. The second storekeeper was Ben Cook and Sons.

Bentley Street View

Bentley Street View