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Sam Livingston (1831 to 1897)

Sam Livingston photo-Glenbow Archives

Samuel Henry Harkwood Livingston was born in Ireland in 1831. As a young man he came to seek his fortune in America. After trying his luck at prospecting during the California Gold Rush of 1849 he made his way up into Canada.

Livingston married Jane Howse, a young Metis woman, in 1865. They soon opened a trading post near Fort Edmonton and began a family which grew to include 14 children. By 1874 the Livingstons had relocated to Jumping Pound on the Elbow River to be closer to trade with the First Nations peoples of the southern plains.

As Sam’s interests turned to farming, he established his family homestead in the Elbow Valley near the present Heritage Park. He was moved by its natural beauty and foresaw its agricultural potential. Sam claimed squatter’s rights there in 1876 and went on to prosper as one of the area’s first farmers.

In the 1880s Livingston helped pioneer agricultural development in the west by bringing in the first threshing machine and binder, and in 1886 he imported 350 fruit trees. With the help of a rudimentary irrigation system the Livingstons cultivated an exceptional garden. Sam also raised cattle and sold fresh meat to the North West Mounted Police at Fort Calgary.

In 1885, with neighbouring farmer John Glenn, Livingston founded the Alberta Settlers Rights Association. As a result, he and other “squatters” were eventually granted ownership for their land claims.

Livingston served his community as founding director of the Canadian North-West Territories Stock Association and the Calgary and District Agricultural Society, founding trustee of the Glenmore School District and a Conservative Party delegate.

Sam Livingston died in 1897. As one of Calgary’s earliest settlers, he was a legend during his own lifetime and is regarded as one of Calgary’s most remarkable pioneers.

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