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Raymond: The Town

The Knight Sugar Factory near Raymond, Alberta in July 1904. Raymond came in to existence when the last significant Mormon migration to Alberta occurred in 1901. This was not a migration formally instigated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter DaySaints, as had been the case with Cardston.

Rather, this was a spontaneous migration largely motivated by the economic opportunities being created in Southern Alberta by Jesse Knight, a wealthy miner and industrialist from Utah who planned tobuild a sugar factory and a town.Settlers thus would have triple opportunity for making a livelihood in Raymond. There were jobs related to the sugar factory, business opportunities in town, and farming and ranching could be carried on in surrounding areas where land was relatively inexpensive.

A field of sugar beets near Raymond, Alberta in July 1904. In the spring of 1900, Charles Magrath, for whom the town of Magrath was named, passed out sugar beet seeds to some of the farmers at Magrath and Stirling and in the fall sent samples of the harvested beets to the Utah Sugar Company at Lehi, Utah for analysis. The report from the Lehi plant - that most of the beets were "wonderfully rich" and that "purity should not run lower than 80 percent" - was one of the major factors leading to the consideration of a sugar beet factory in the Raymond area. Although unmoved by the Lehi report, Jesse Knight nevertheless sent his sons, Ray and William, to Alberta to see the land he was being encouraged to buy. Further investigation prompted Jesse Knight to purchase a 30,000-acre block from the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company near Spring Coulee for $2.50 per acre. On May 26, 1901 Jesse Knight arrived in southern Alberta to inspect the land he had purchased.Impressed, he purchased a further 226,000 acres and two days later he proposed to personally undertake the construction of a sugar beet factory somewhere between the Mormon communities of Magrath and Stirling. On August 16, 1901, after contract terms had been negotiated, he deposited $50,000 with the Irrigation Company as a guarantee of good faith, and Raymond, named after his eldest son, was on the map.

The Knight Sugar Factory in Raymond, Alberta in July 1904. To introduce the sugar beet industry into Alberta under the conditions that existed in 1902 required a great deal of courage, vision and stamina. It also required a lot of capital and strong leadership. Because most of these strong leaders had to be recruited from other places, a considerable numbers of energetic pioneers came to southern Alberta between the years 1900 and 1903. The new factory operated for the first time in the fall of 1903 under the name Knight Sugar Company. Success did not come immediately, largely because farmers in the area were not familiar with the beet crop. This prompted action by the federal government designed to encourage farmers to work with the beets; the objective, of course, being to ensure settlement of the largely unpopulated area. The government offered a bonus of 50 cents per hundred pounds of sugar produced, to be divided equally between the beet growers and the factory. They also eliminated all taxes on the sugar factory during the initial 12-year contract period.

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  • Cemetery Day in Raymond - Cemetery Day is celebrated in a certain Alberta town each summer. Hear about the cultural history of this day, and which town continues to celebrate it!
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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.