Donalda_na_5524_7_thuThe Donalda townsite settlement began on the rim of the coulee as early as 1909, with Max Damberger one of the first residents, operating a livery barn. Others that helped establish the town were Jesse Graham and Mr. Foster, who owned a lumberyard and hardware store, Bill Batke, a pool hall. The Lutheran Church was established in 1905 in the rural area of Donalda with services being held at a local residence. The actual church was built in 1912 with the addition of a United Church in 1919.

Donalda was established 1911 and was named after the niece of Donald A. Mann, Donalda Crossway. Donald A. Mann was an early era Canadian National Railway official and one of the builders of the railroad. The first settlers were Harry Wallace, Dan Hines, Harker, I.N. Haviland, James Imeson, Leslie Bell, Lawrence Olson, Max Damberger, O.M. Vikse and B.A. Vikse.

donalda_na_4060_1_thuSome of the merchants and residents were: A.H. McLeod, Manager of the Merchants Bank; L.W. Bell, operator of the Post Office, Drug Store, and Telephone office; the Wright and Sabey Barbershop and Pool hall; Fred Jones, Blacksmith; Wallace's General Store; J. Olsen Real Estate; S.N. Haviland, manager of the Donalda Hotel and Livery Barn; and Donalda's first restaurant, The Chinese Café, served the area at all hours and even supplied sleeping accommodations.

Donalda_na_5524_10_thuThe village of Donalda was incorporated in 1913. The site chosen was not the most promising as Main Street was built on a slough. For many years, dirt was hauled in to get rid of the slough. In the early days, the village was a thriving commercial centre. However, with the consolidation of rural towns, the loss of Donalda's grain elevators and the railway tracks, which brought the Alberta Prairie Stream Tours to town, Donalda diminished as a community.

Information provided by Darlene Tantrum, Manager of the Donalda and District Museum.


donalda_na_5524_5_thuIn 1911, the Donalda School was established with the first school being built in 1913. The school burnt in 1937 and was rebuilt in 1938 and the first teacher was Ernest A. Winter. In 1924, a large fire on Main Street destroyed three businesses, a hardware store, general store and a community hall. From 1915-1950, Lena Otteson was postmistress and telephone operator. In 1917 the first rural mail delivery was established with Tom Solomonson the first carrier.

Donalda's first doctor was Dr. Wallace, others to follow were Dr. C.A. Ball, Dr. Bond, Dr. Oldright, Dr. Masecot, Dr. J.E. Jackson and Dr. Morley Hodgson, Dr. Jackson staying the longest, from 1925-1934.

In 1924, the first creamery (Woodland Dairy) was established; in 1937, the local farmers formed the Co Operative Creamery known as the Donalda Co-Op Creamery. Donalda-made butter won many awards over the years of production. In 1931, Donalda had its first power plant in conjunction with the creamery, this plant operated from 7 am until 1 am daily. It was the only local farmer-owned and operated creamery in central Alberta.

As Donalda grew, more businesses were added. In 1930 Els Whitehorn built the Empire Garage and in 1934 Harold and Laura Hjorth built the Central Garage.

donalda_na_5524_1_thuThere were many service clubs in the village during the interwar period, such as the Independent Order of the Oddfellows, Rebekah Lodge and the Canadian Order of Forresters. There were also Ladies Church Groups and junior groups such as 4-H, which were very popular with the farm communities, as were CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training), a program that aims to help girls meet their needs, and the Scouting movement.

Information provided by Darlene Tantrum, Manager of the Donalda and District Museum.

WWII and After

Donalda_pd_313_59_thuIn the early days, business in Donalda's past consisted of lumberyards, fibreglass manufacturing plant, blacksmiths, butcher and a Chinese Café. The blacksmiths were very important to the farmers, but later gave way to machine shops. The local butcher shop had a locker plant that was used to store frozen foods. In 1978, the locker plant was closed as home freezers came onto the market.

During WWII, 158 men and 12 women were sent into the services; of this group, five men did not return. There were many ladies groups that helped the Red Cross in providing quilts to be sent overseas, they were not only in Donalda but the surrounding districts, there was a particular Ladies Group called the Skybo Ladies that hosted a picnic every summer to help aid the Red Cross. This club was very active until 1976.

donalda_na_3481_21_thuAt a special meeting held on January 31, 1979, representatives of the Battle River Tourist Association on behalf of Donald and Beth Lawson presented to Donalda their extensive lamp collection. A proposal to build a museum, to hold this collection and artifacts donated by the community, was also discussed. The museum was completed in 1980.

Information provided by Darlene Tantrum, Manager of the Donalda and District Museum.

Donalda Present Day - "Community Spirit Lights the Way!"

Donalda is located on the edge of a coulee overlooking Meeting Creek. It is a community that is very active in arts and sports. Over the years, Donalda has maintained a consistent population that averages 200 residents. Donalda continues boasts a convenience store, a garage, two restaurants, an antique market, both public and private art galleries, a hotel, two bed and breakfasts, an upholstery shop, and a museum and library. There are also many home-based businesses that are located outside the village limits.

Donalda is known for its lamp museum which contains a collection of over 850 kerosene lamps, and Canada's largest lamp which was lit July 1, 2000. Other attractions include the Annual Indoor Rodeo in July and the Bench Fair in August.

Donalda has restored many historic buildings within the village which include the Donalda Co-Op Creamery, the railway station, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which now houses the public art gallery. Donalda relies on tourism and agriculture. Products grown locally include cereal grains, dairy products, poultry, livestock, honey, straw and hay.

Information provided by Darlene Tantrum, Manager of the Donalda and District.