Glen Leslie Church

& Cemetery

Alberta, Canada




When the deadfall was cleared from the Church grounds in 2016, one of the original gates was discovered. Although overgrown with small trees and caragana bushes, the gate was still all in one piece. The exact date that the fence and gates were installed is unknown however it would be safe to say that it occurred in the early 1920’s.

Over the years, the south fence had been removed and the west gate must have been left in the trees. Several new locations were considered however it was decided the gate should stay on the west side. As there is an existing sign at the west entrance that had wood posts, a decision was made to

 affix the gate to those posts. A small sign stating "Original Gate" was placed on top of the gate. The plan is to have climbing flowers planted at the foot of the gate. Hopefully next year, the gate will be laden with beautiful blooms.  

By Wanda Zenner – November 2018

"Leon Ingraham Has Building Named After Him"

Leon Ingraham passed away in July 2014 near Valleyview, Alberta and was buried in the Glen Leslie Cemetery.

Leon was raised on the family farm in southern Alberta near Ponoka. He and his wife Evelyn and two sons moved to Clarkson Valley in 1962 where he taught the shop class and was the principal of the Ridgevalley School. He thoroughly enjoyed teaching and loved the farm that he and Evelyn built over the years.

Shortly after the accident, Evelyn found solace by landscaping an area at the Cemetery that would later become known as the "Ingraham Meditation Area". Many hours were spent in clearing out an overgrown area that had large spruce trees as a backdrop. Mulch unified the area and the flowers provide a welcoming colour palette. Evelyn maintains the area all summer constantly watering and weeding to ensure everyone who visits the Cemetery and Church have a place to "come, sit, remember" as evidenced on one of the seating areas.

On September 28, 2018, the "Leon Ingraham Industrial Arts Centre" opened. Evelyn and 35 friends and family members gathered at the Mamawi Atosketan Native School for the ribbon-cutting.

By means of the gift of this building, Leon’s family consisting of Evelyn, Chip & family, Curt & family, has seen to it that the Mamawi Atosketan students will have endless opportunities to develop skills through education. (rt – Chip Ingraham and Evelyn Ingraham)

By Wanda Zenner October 2018

Leslie Family Visits Area

September 11, 2018 proved to be a dull, cloudy and misty day but the day was substantially brightened by a visit by Leslie relatives from BC. Dennis Leslie and his wife Susan from Vancouver were in DeBolt visiting Dennis’ cousin, Maggie (Leslie) Huette. Maggie stated that she has driven by the Church on numerous occasions and always meant to stop and visit but at that point never had.

Dennis & Maggie’s grandfather, John Leslie was a brother to Thomas Leslie for whom the area was named after. John Leslie had two sons, Sam (Dennis’ father), Ian (Maggie’s father) and a daughter Margaret. While Dennis had heard vaguely that there were Leslie relatives who had moved out west, he did not realize that an area was actually named after them as well as the Church and Cemetery.

Left – Susan & Dennis Leslie & Maggie (Leslie) Huette with picture of Tom & Margaret Leslie in the background.

Dennis, Susan and Maggie were very impressed with the restoration story of the little building – especially when it was explained that a crane lifted off the top three rows of logs and the roof all in one piece. Following which all the logs came down, a new foundation was poured and the walls were then built back up with replacement logs where necessary. Once again the roof and the top three rows of logs were lifted back on to the walls and all fitted as if it had never been removed.

They were especially interested in the picture displays – making special note of Thomas & Margaret’s picture. Wanda and Dennis had a discussion of how precise Nels Meyers had cut the dove-tail notches in the corners. It is truly amazing how log buildings were constructed in the early 20th Century with a bare minimum of tools – axes and saws.

Dennis shared a story of the castle in Scotland that is called the "Leslie Castle" - named after the "Leslie Family Clan".

A great time was had by all.

Written by Wanda Zenner September 12, 2018


In an effort to ensure that all the headstones in the Glen Leslie Cemetery that simply stated "baby" and the last name had an acknowledgement about the parents, the results of the research came down to one headstone that the family was not easily identifiable.

However the mystery of who the parents were of the "Taylor Baby" has been solved. The parents of the baby girl have been identified as William D. and Mabel J. (Dawson) Taylor. Alberta death records revealed that the baby girl was born on December 16 and passed away on December 18, 1920 in Bezanson of pneumonia. The attending physician was Dr. J.R. Labadie who lived in the Bezanson area.

A search of the Peace Country Land Settlement Database revealed that a William D. Taylor had filed homestead applications on NW and NE 4-72-2-W6 (land located on the east side of the Smoky River) on June 4, 1920. He abandoned the NE quarter on June 23, 1921 stating the land had too much brush. At the same time, he cancelled the application on the NW quarter. An attached note stated that the Taylor’s currently resided in Glen Leslie but later lived in the Bezanson area. It would appear, that they were living in Bezanson when the baby girl passed away; therefore they would have abandoned and cancelled the homestead applications after that time.

The Taylor’s were listed on the 1921 Census as owning and living on 8-72-3-W6 in the Glen Leslie area however which ¼ of land was not identified. It was narrowed down to either the NE or SE quarter. The NE ¼ was the homestead of Johnny Kiebalo who received the patent on the land in 1916. The SE ¼ was the homestead of John McKenzie who received the patent on the land in September 1919. The "Smoky to Grande Prairie" history book stated that Mr. McKenzie sold his land to Johnny Kiebalo after the war. As such, it would be safe to assume that Mr. Taylor would have bought the original McKenzie homestead from Mr. Kiebalo as there would have been some sort of residence on that property.

Census forms include a great deal of interesting information; at the time of the census, William was 33 and his wife Mabel J. was 23. It further stated that they both were from England – the Land Database provided a bit more information insofar as to where William originated from which was Lancashire County, Liverpool, England. At the time of the Census being June 1921, they were only a family of two. William had immigrated in 1908 and Mabel in 1920. As the baby passed away in 1920, Mabel may have been expecting their first child when she immigrated.

How long the Taylor’s stayed in Glen Leslie is unknown however they would have sold their land and purchased the NW 6-72-2-W6 (RR31 and is the ¼ of land that the Ski Chalet is located on) in the Bezanson area from the Soldiers’ Settlement Board. The land had been the original homestead of Fred Thompson who sold it to the Soldier’s Settlement Board once he received the patent on the property in 1918.

The next occurrence of the Taylor name was found in the Grande Prairie Herald on March 20, 1923 under the heading "Bezanson News" which read:

"Born to Mr. and Mrs. W. Taylor on Monday March 5, a fine baby girl."

A subsequent newspaper dated April 17, 1923 stated:

"The dairy farmers of the district are going to watch with interest this coming season, an experiment which Mr. W. Taylor is going to carry out. He is going to seed a few acres to Sunflowers, build a ground silo and try and solve the problem of feeding dairy cows for profit during the winter. Success be with you Will - and others will follow your footsteps."

There still is a bit of a discrepancy in the dates as the 1921 Census gives a legal land description in Glen Leslie however the birth and death certificate state "Bezanson" for residence in 1920 and the information in the newspaper articles under the heading "Bezanson News" were in 1923. Only land titles would clarify that point however we do know that they resided in Glen Leslie and Bezanson for short periods of time. The "Smoky to Grande Prairie" history book stated that the Taylor’s did not stay long in the Bezanson area and it is unknown as to where they relocated to.

Hopefully the Taylor’s had a wonderful and prosperous life wherever they eventually settled.

By Wanda Zenner – June 2018

Glen Leslie Church

Plays Host to a Special Visitor 

Imagine my surprise in early August 2017 when I arrived home and listened to my phone messages to find that there was one from Janice Broadworth (left) from Bracebridge, Ontario.   When I returned the call, she explained that she was the granddaughter of Bruce Leslie and great granddaughter of Thomas Leslie and that she and her husband, Ron, would be flying to Sydney, BC for their son’s wedding.  As Ron’s sister would be driving from Winnipeg to attend the wedding, the three-some decided to take a slight detour on the way home so that Janice could see the area where her ancestors settled.  Apparently, Bill Leslie, Ed Leslie’s son and Janice’s cousin, had sent her the book on the history of the Glen Leslie Church and area.  Consequently, Janice thought that should she ever have an opportunity to see the property, she would make every attempt to do so. 

As Laurel Reynolds, granddaughter of Norman Leslie, lives in Grande Prairie, she volunteered to act as the tour guide and drove her relatives out to Glen Leslie.   Wanda met the group at the Church and gave a brief overview of how Thomas and Margaret Leslie and their three adult sons, Norman, Ed and Bruce arrived at an area east of Grande Prairie and filed on land in such close proximity to each other that the area became known affectionately as “Glen of the Leslie’s”.  The name was shortened over the years to simply Glen Leslie.  Bruce Leslie went back to Ontario in 1916 to marry his high-school sweetheart, Carrie Sager.  The young couple arrived back to the area and settled in the log cabin that Bruce had built on his homestead quarter of land.  Carrie however, was unaccustomed to such a primitive way of life and convinced her husband that life would be better in Ontario. Janice chuckled as she recalled hearing that specific story.   Bruce and Carrie left in 1919 and settled in Queensborough where they raised a family of two daughters, Margaret and Dorothy.  Margaret married Roy Rollins and they had two children, Janice and Paul.

Janice and her husband as well as Ron’s sister, were very impressed with the restoration of the Church and were quite taken with the picture of Janice’s great grandparents, Thomas and Margaret Leslie that was on display in the building.  It was a very touching moment for her to see the actual adz marks on the logs that would have been made by her great grandfather, grandfather and great uncles. 

Laurel went on to describe the wonderful event that occurred in 2015 to celebrate the restoration of the Church and the 100th anniversary of when it had been built.

It was a wonderful afternoon and what lovely people the Leslie descendants are.     I feel they left with a new sense of not only who their ancestors were but the struggles they endured to settle this area.  It if wasn’t for the Glen Leslie Church and Cemetery, the area known as Glen Leslie would simply cease to exist. 

I found it to be very interesting that Bill Leslie, Ed’s son, sent a book to Bruce Leslie’s granddaughter, Janice, and a descendant of Norman Leslie (Laurel) ensured that Janice and Ron had the opportunity to

view the Church.  The descendants of Thomas and Margaret Leslie, although spread out across Canada, are still very much in tune to their roots in Glen Leslie. 

Written by Wanda Zenner – January 2018.
Photos by Laurel Reynolds.


Provincial Historic Site

In recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, the County awarded $100,000 worth of grants to various community groups who were planning events or legacy activities in celebration of such an important milestone. Each grant, a maximum of $10,000, was awarded to applicants within the County’s boundaries with their projects in place for 2017.

The maximum was awarded to "Bezanson Community Groups" for a Canada 150 wood-carved monument. The six-sided bench was the creation of Ryan Cook of hit TV shows such as Carver Kings and Saw Dogs. His work is now showcased by Saw Valley Carvers. Each side of the bench depicts a scene of historical significance to Bezanson. Taking centre stage was a wonderful carving of the Glen Leslie Church that was built in 1915. The little log building was completely restored by the Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group over a period of 4 years. The project culminated in 2015 at which time a Celebration was held to commemorate the restoration process and the 100th anniversary of when the building was constructed. The Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group received the Provincial Award for Heritage Conservation by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation in recognition of outstanding achievement in conservation.

The other five sides of the bench include a carving of the Bezanson Ski Chalet, Kleskun Hills, a farmer plowing the fields with a team of horses, a farmer on his tractor and a carving of the first store at the Bezanson Townsite – Hall & Leonard’s Store.

The bench will be placed in front of the Bezanson Regional Community Cultural Centre once construction is complete which is anticipated to be during the summer of 2018. The carvings on the bench depict the history of Bezanson and a tree will be planted in the centre of the bench to represent the future growth of the area.

Written by Wanda Zenner – January 2018


A Canada 150th Celebration – Glen Leslie Church Tour

One of the many events scheduled for "Celebrate Bezanson" was a tour of the Provincial Historic Site – the Glen Leslie Church. Saturday August 26, 2017 dawned warm and sunny – a perfect backdrop to view the Church and Cemetery. Wanda Zenner facilitated the tour.

The tour started with a stop at the new entrance sign and landscaping that had been finished earlier that same day. The Church sparkled after a thorough cleaning and had been decorated inside and outside with home-grown flowers and plants. The tour continued with a stroll down the new sidewalk to the brick "Donor Wall" that had been built to honor all of those who had participated in the restoration of the Church. A few steps away was the "History Timeline" that had been installed by the County of Grande Prairie. Many made note of the Hansa roses that had been planted at the entrance along with the large boulders that were the original foundation. Once inside, many took advantage of the home-made desserts and drinks that were prepared by Evelyn Ingraham. Wanda gave an overview of the restoration process itself. Many were astounded at the thought of the top three rows of logs and roof being lifted off in one piece. She explained that although the Community had maintained the building over the years, the ravishes of time had taken its toll and the Church had reached a point where it could have easily collapsed into itself. She explained that the Community held a meeting and "The Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group" was formed in 2011 with one mandate and that was to restore the building to its former glory. She explained that once the roof was off, the walls came down easily. The old foundation was replaced with a new one with vent holes for circulation. As lead paint had been applied to the ceiling and floor at one time and along with the discovery of mould, all had to be remediated. The work continued with refitting the original windows with new wood where necessary along with the original door that had been pain-stakingly restored. By 2014, the restoration was complete and the "Group" received a favorable final inspection report by the Provincial Government’s representative. As such, the Church was designated a Provincial Historic Site.

The organ had been brought back and placed in its original location. Maryanne Halwa offered to play a tune on the organ and what a wonderful tune it was. Wanda pointed out the picture of Reverend and Agnes Forbes that had been placed on the organ along with a photo of Harold Bulford, County Councillor and Wanda Zenner of the Glen Leslie Preservation Group, receiving the prestigious award for Heritage Conservation from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. She pointed out the picture of Thomas and Margaret Leslie for whom the area was named after. Following which, she drew attention to the picture of the six teachers who had taught there when the Church was utilized as the school house for the Somme School District. Wanda also provided a binder that contained biographies of the teachers. Along the back wall was a photo of Elizabeth Johnston, the first secretary-treasurer of the Agnes Forbes Auxiliary along with a photo of the original bible (which had been stolen) that had been donated to the Church by Irene Hildebrandt.

From there the tour congregated at a stately new stone at the First Burial Site in the Glen Leslie Cemetery. The beautiful stone had been donated by Elizabeth and Gerald Fritsma. Wanda gave a brief history on Grace (Brookbanks) Parker and then on behalf of the entire Community, thanked the Fritsma’s for their generosity.

The tour continued on to the "Ingraham Mediation Area" that had been landscaped by Evelyn Ingraham. It is a beautiful spot to sit and remember those that are buried in the Cemetery.

A very special thank-you goes out to Evelyn Ingraham for all her hard work to ensure that the tour of the Glen Leslie Church and Cemetery was a success.

By Wanda Zenner

The following from the Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune

Cemetery storytelling a loving way to reconnect generations 

by: Sue Farrell Holler

        My parents' remains are buried in a pretty little cemetery that's a stone's throw from the house my dad built, and where I grew up. It's on a side hill beside a river and this time of year is abloom with the pink blossoms of ornamental crab trees and the soft green of newly unfurled leaves that thrive on the wood-land border.

            It's a quiet place, tucked away and unused for the most part. Most people who live in the area don't even know it's there.

When I spent the summer "at home" two years ago, I'd often take my morning coffee to the cemetery to sit with Mom and Dad. I didn't think about them really, or anything more than the ducks that swam at the water's edge. It was, rather, a place of contented silence. Being there wasn't morbid, or at all sad; there was just a serene type of comfort.

The cemetery was used for only a few years in the late 1950s when my eldest brother died in infancy. Except for the occasional foray with my best friend on damp and foggy nights when we'd hope to encounter ghosts, it wasn't somewhere I went as a child. It certainly wasn't a place I'd have thought to go for a few moments of quiet reflection. In my childhood, graveyards were creepy, and not something of my everyday experience.

Mine was a generation removed from death. The women no longer washed and prepared the bodies for burial, wakes were no longer held in front parlors, and funerals were no longer community events.

Death was remote. We seemed to know few people who died, and when someone in the family did, we were sheltered from the death as if it were a contagious disease. The adults would scurry off to take part in the grieving ceremonies, but we'd stay home - even when it came to close relatives such as an aunt, an uncle or a grandfather.

My parents kept us sheltered not out of malice, but out love. They thought it would be better for us not to be saddened, and perhaps not to be burdened by the sights, sounds and smells of death. It's something I wish they had let us experience, this understanding and normalizing of death as something every living thing will one day experience.

I was 'touched the other day to receive an email from one of my Mom's close friends, telling me she had visited Mom's grave with her grandchildren. While there, she told them about my mom and about their long friendship, and about others buried beneath the stones and crosses. I can picture them, walking hand-in-hand, she reminiscing about the people she once knew as she gently introduced the children to death and its customs.

The children will not likely remember the stories, but they will likely remember walking among the head-stones with their grandmother and the sound of her voice as she talked about old friends and neighbours. It's an image I know I'll hold for a long time.

In our culture, we don't like to think about dying and death, but grief is something children need to under-stand. It's a mistake to protect and remove them from the experience of death. They should be allowed to know it, to understand it and to be part of its rituals as much as they are a part of the rituals of life.

How much better to learn about death, and to understand it as a natural part of life, than to be faced with some day losing a friend or loved one without knowledge of grief and without any coping skills.

My mother's friend told me that when she was a child, the family went to the cemetery every Sunday to "visit" with people they once knew. The idea of a cemetery filled not with tears, but with families, stories shared, and the sound of children's questions is a loving way to be remembered.


Bezanson Homecoming Celebration

August 27, 2017

A lovely service was facilitated by Reverend Malcolm at the Glen Leslie Church on Sunday August 27, 2017. The service was one of the events of the "Celebrate Bezanson Homecoming Weekend". Reverend Malcolm is with the Forbes Presbyterian Church in Grande Prairie and had commented that he welcomed the opportunity to provide a service at Glen Leslie. Several members of his congregation from the Forbes Presbyterian Church were in attendance.


Reverend Malcolm provided bulletins for everyone on the details of the service which included the words of the songs. Ruth Boyd led the singing of "All Things Bright and Beautiful, What a Friend We Have in Jesus and How Great Thou Art".



Ruth Boyd

Once the service was complete, Carol Rigler (left) was convinced to play the organ. Although the organ was more than likely, obtained in January 1928 as inscribed on the back panel, it sounded like new as Carol Rigler played a tune. It was a wonderful morning, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

The Church had been decorated with several bouquets of home-grown flowers provided by Evelyn Ingraham and Wanda Zenner. The star attraction though was Mrs. Ingram’s rustic cream-can filled with chokecherry branches that were loaded with berries. Several comments were made as to how spectacular the Church looked now that it has been restored.

Reverend and Mrs. Malcolm enjoying the view from the steps.

Prepared by Wanda Zenner




The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation

Announced the 2016 Heritage Awards Recipients

Recipient:       Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group

Project:           Glen Leslie Church Restoration

Category:       Heritage Conservation

Harold Bulford, County Councillor for Division I
Wanda Zenner, President Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group

The awards ceremony was held at the historic McDougall Centre in Calgary on October 14, 2016. 

The evening began with a hors d’oeuvre reception.   Opening greetings were provided by Dr. Laurel Halladay, Chairperson of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation who stated that the awards are selected every two years to recognize the outstanding achievements of Albertans engaged in heritage preservation, protection and promotion. Mathew Wrangler, Executive Director, filled in for the Honourable Irfan Sabir, Minister of Human Services who was unable to attend the evening’s festivities, and extended greetings as well.  

The formal portion of the awards ceremony commenced with the Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group receiving the first award of the evening.  Wanda Zenner represented the Group and delivered a short speech on the history of the Church, the restoration process and the Centennial Celebration.  She emphasized how important the little log building was and still is, to the Community.  Wanda closed by thanking the Foundation for their support and presented them with one of the books that were compiled not only on the history of the Church but of the Glen Leslie area as well. 

The County had nominated the Group and ensured their representation at the event by the presence of Harold Bulford, County Councillor for Division 1.

Wanda's speech  |  Video of event


 In 2014, Evelyn Ingraham began to landscape an area in the Glen Leslie Cemetery in remembrance of her husband, Leon who had passed away in July.  The completed project is a beautiful spot for all to enjoy as they remember their loved ones.

 Suncrest Memorials’ owner, Wes Shartner from Crooked Creek, donated his services to engrave and install a special rock with “Ingraham Meditation Area”.   The rock was one of the original foundation rocks of the Church that was built in 1915.

                            Donor Wall
A brick for each business or person who donated to the restoration project (at the North end of the church building)
Anyone having other photos please contact us.

The original organ in place for the July 19, 2015 celebration

Glen Leslie Church marks centenary

Charles Wales holds up a picture of him and his classmates back in 1920 when they were attending school at the Glen Leslie Church as well as a certificate honouring him as the Mayor of Glen Leslie for the day for his help in outlining the history of the church while celebrating the building's centennial on Sunday. The church has been restored and held a birthday celebration with some old photos similar to the on held by Wales. Jocelyn Turner/Daily Herald-Tribune

Charles Wales holds up a picture of him and his classmates back in 1920 when they were attending school at the Glen Leslie Church as well as a certificate honouring him as the Mayor of Glen Leslie for the day for his help in outlining the history of the church while celebrating the building's centennial on Sunday. The church has been restored and held a birthday celebration with some old photos similar to the one held by Wales.

Jocelyn Turner/Daily Herald-Tribune

One hundred-year-old stories came alive on Sunday when the Glen Leslie Church celebrated its centennial. 

Located on Highway 670, 21 kilometers east of Grande Prairie, the church was constructed in 1915 on a 10-acre church grant applied for by Thomas Leslie and Rev. Alexander Forbes. 

Charles Wales, who just so happens to be 100-years-old, shared some of his memories of the church, which was also a school between 1918 and 1928.

“I didn’t start school until Feb. 1, 1920... I went to school until I was in Grade 11,” he said. 

“They had to have eight kids to make a school. My brother wasn’t quite old enough but they put him in anyway.”

Wales said for the older kids, the teacher would teach them later in the day and give them lots of homework so they could stay home and do their chores.

“It was a way to keep (us) going to school,” he said. 

Altogether, Wales said there were about 35 students and just one teacher. 

“It was the only church in the county, the only church this big in the county,” said Wales of its importance. “And instead of building a school they used this.”

Wanda Zenner, president of the Glen Leslie Preservation Group said the community has been working for more than a decade to restore the church for the celebration on Sunday. 

“This little building and of course the adjacent cemetery is very important to this community and it really services a wide area now, all the way up to Grande Prairie, all the way up to the Smoky and into the Wapiti and quite far a ways north, up into Teepee Creek,” she said. 

Councilor Harold Bulford of the County of Grande Prairie and MP Chris Warkentin were on hand to help celebrate the prestigious milestone.

“When we see the community come together and really celebrate 100 years and also have this type of a building to celebrate around, I think it brings people together,” said Warkentin. “I think it reminds people of the values that the settlers brought. Not only were they concerned about coming here and building a future for their families but (it was) also important to build a community.”

Rev. George Malcolm, of Forbes Presbyterian, held a rededication ceremony for the church. There were old-fashioned games like three-legged races and sack races as well as cemetery tours and a barbecue for the dozens who turned out to celebrate the day. 

For more information about the church, visit

Twitter: @DHTJocelyn

By Jocelyn Turner, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune

Sunday, July 19, 2015 6:12:14 MDT PM

The Olson Family had a reunion on the weekend of the celebration. (Pictures)