SUTHERLAND CAME TO HARTNEY in 1903, the first manager of the Union
Bank, which had bought out the private bank of the A.W. Law Company. He
was born in Kildonan, Manitoba in 1872 the son of the Honourable John
Sutherland, Leader of the Opposition in Manitoba’s first Legislature,
and a descendant of the Selkirk Settlers. He was educated in the
Kildonan schools and University of Manitoba and entered the Union Bank
as a young man.
After working in the Union Bank at Yorkton, Saskatchewan and Wawanesa,
Manitoba, he came to Hartney. His wife was May, sister of Reverend Sam
Polson, Hartney’s first ordained Presbyterian minister. Alex purchased
from Alcocks the brick house opposite the school, built by Ebor
Bradley. His carefully tended grounds with beds of roses and the Union
Jack flying over a stone cairn were outstanding. This was the centre
for many a social gathering for card parties and groups of snow-shoers.
Alex was very active in the community. He played in Dr. Woodhull’s
brass band, was a member of the male quartet, took part in plays, was
on the executive of the tennis and curling clubs, was an examining
Scout master, member of the Board of Trade, secretary of the flour
mill, in charge of Manitoba Sanitorium Funds, member of the Town
Council in 1909 and 1910 and elected mayor in 1911.
In 1912 Alex was made inspector of Manitoba branches of the Union Bank
and they moved to Winnipeg. In that year his first book of poetry,
“Manitoba Memories” was published. For a number of years he was
president of the Lord Selkirk Association and a past president of the
Canadian Authors Association. He was three times judge of the Alberta
Adapted from A Century of
Living, page 620 and The Mere Living, page 204.
Poems of a Small Town Bank Manager
Alex Sutherland’s responsibilities managing the local bank, as well as
honing the financial skills required in that work, did not keep him
from exploring and expressing his creative side. An inveterate poet,
this example recalls the opening of the winter’s curling season in
1911, complete (complete with a heavy Scottish brogue):
Cauld winter with his mantle raw
Is ower a’ the toon.
The skips, ye ken, hae mad a draw,
An’ brooms are flirtin’ roun’.
The curlin’ stanes are oot again;
Eh, Mon! Bit they’re a sicht.
Tam Hopkins busy buying grain
So stays in toon at nicht.
James mcArter’s comin’ hame;
His summer’s work is dune.
He’ll ‘Haud his hand’ in many a game
Where curlers are aroun’.
Jack Broon and Fry are out for blood.
I wunna say for sure,
But that they’ll ding us in the mud
Afore the winter’s oor.
Sae ‘Soup ‘er up or ‘Let her curl!’
‘Eh! bit she’s comin grand.
Mon she’s a game for a’ the world!
But I maun ma hand.