We Made Hartney

We Made Hartney

Financial Services

Banker and Poet Alex Sutherland



ALEX 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 Poetry Contest.

Adapted from A Century of Living, page 620 and The Mere Living, page 204.

The 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.

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