More about the Klondike Gold Rush
SION, Alberta, July 27, 2008 —
The community of Sion, Alberta, is older than the Province.  Alberta became a Province in 1905, but Sion was here long before that, tracing its history back to the mid-1800s.
One of Sion's early claims to fame was the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1880s, when fortune-seekers from Edmonton came north in droves along the original Klondike Trail, heading north to the Yukon in search of gold.  That Klondike Trail came north through the community of Sion, and then on up through the Swan Hills heading north to the Yukon.
The exciting part about all this is that Harold J. (known to his friends as Jim) Sidford is still around as a direct link to those early Klondike Days.  Harold Jim Sidford is an adopted son of Englishman James Wilford Sidford, who was born in the old country away back in 1871, to James and Elizabeth Sidford.  
The elder James was the original James  Sidford.  When his son Jim Wilford was 18 this Jim the Second emigrated to Canada, heralded as the Land of Opportunity.  The old steamship which brought him to Canada landed on the Atlantic Coast of the promised land, and Jim knocked around in eastern and central Canada for six years before he persuaded a friend, in 1895, to accompany him to Alberta.  They managed the trip quite well, and when they got here they set out for the Yukon to join the gold rush.  They headed up the old Klondike Trail, through Sion, but by the time they got up north to the Athabasca River they began meeting more and more people coming back from the North, with the disappointing news that the gold rush was over!
So it was that in the late 1800s James and his friend had to sadly give up the dream of the Yukon.  They followed the Athabasca River from Fort Assiniboine to the town of Athabasca, and then headed south by road again, back to Edmonton.  
"There must be some gold in this big old river," they mused.  They built a makeshift house by digging a big hole in the ground on the banks of the North Saskatchewan, covering it with a tent for a roof.  They spent the winter on the river flats panning for gold, but there was little or none to be panned.  The gold rush really was over, so James Sidford reluctantly and slowly headed back to Ontario, working in sawmills along the way to pay expenses.  By this time his brothers Bernard and Harvey, and his sisters Ethel, Mary and Margaret had come over from England as well, so it was after all a sort of homecoming for him.
On September 10, 1904 James, who was 33 by now, married 20-year-old Ontario-born Edith Kate Careless, and not long after that James was headed for Alberta again, this time with his lovely Lady Edith.  They both had some belongings to bring with them—even some cattle—so they rented a box car and Edith's brother Samuel, better known as "Sammy," came along to help look after the livestock on the long ride from Ontario to Edmonton, where the tracks ended.
From Edmonton it was back to the North via the old Klondike Trail, with which James was familiar, but this time not the Yukon.  They bought some land at Sion, then hitched a team of oxen to a covered wagon and followed the Klondike Trail to their newly-acquired country estate consisting of a quarter-section of genuine wild and woolly virgin bush.  That was 1909.
James, in his thirties, was no spring chicken any more, and he was always grateful for his young wife's love, understanding and support.  His health had deteriorated to the point where he lost his hearing, and being deaf was an extreme hardship.  Despite being deaf, James worked like a Trojan.  He built a house and cleared enough land by hand to get them started farming.  They planted crops and put up winter feed for the livestock.  
Surviving close to nature was one thing, but making a little money was something else.  James managed to get what for him was a reasonably well-paying job, working for a lumber supply house in Edmonton.  Edith, on the other hand, looked after the farm while her husband worked in Edmonton.  What else could they do?  They survived.
Edith and James had no children, but they were a brave couple.  James was in his mid-forties when he and Edith took a giant and bold step of faith.  They adopted a daughter—a little girl named Anna, born December 1, 1913.  Then in later years they adopted a son as well.  His name was Harold Kidd, born July 21, 1926.  
James promptly gave his new son the second name "James" in honor of his own father, the original James Sidford, and little Jim was now officially Harold J. Sidford, better known as "Jim."  So that's the juncture on the highway of life when Jim Sidford the Third entered the picture.  Like his father, born in England on July 27th, 1871, he was born in July as well (July 21), more than half a century after his adopted father's birth over in England.  
Jim III was little more than a year old when he became part of the Sidford family.  At the age of 82 he has been living on the Sidford Estate for 81 of those 82 years!
Jim Sidford III is perhaps the best-known "really old-timer" in the community of Sion.  Jump ahead in time momentarily now, to August 31, 1946.  Jim married a fabulous lady named Ann Kostiw, and this brings together three of Sion's most distinguished families—the Sidford clan, the Careless clan, and the Kostiw clan.  
Add to this Jim's sister, Anna Sidford.  She married a man named Axel Elfstedt, and they settled on a farm bisected by the Klondike Trail at Range Road 12, just west of Deadman Lake and a little more than a mile southeast of the old family farm where Jim Sidford is still living.
A mile and a half northwest of the original Sidford Estate is a young man you might well call Jim Sidford the Fourth.  That's Terrance (Terry) James Sidford, born April 23, 1948.  Terry is married to a very intelligent and energetic young lady named Milly, a nutritional consultant who runs a family business called Three Diamond Health.  
Our special thanks to Terry and Milly for their help.  Much of the foregoing information is taken from some excellent historical material Milly originally contributed to a community history book titled TALES AND TRAILS, published by the Dunstable Communities Historical Society.  Thanks very much to Milly and the Society for this priceless information.
Now back to the Klondike Trail where all this started long before Alberta came into being as a Province.  The location where Jim Sidford II and a friend panned for gold away back at the turn of the Twentieth Century became known as Edmonton's Beverly community or subdivision.  The spot where Jim II and a friend camped and panned for gold became the location for the Beverly Bridge.  This landmark crossing over the North Saskatchewan River on the City's East Side was opened August 29, 1953.  Jim Sidford II made the trip from the old Family Estate at Sion to witness the inauguration of the bridge.  He was roughly as old then as James III is today, and he lived another seven or eight years before he passed away at the age of 91 on the old family farm.
Jim III and Ann lived with Jim II and his wife Edith for many years before the elderly couple both passed away.  Today Jim III and Jim IV are carrying on the distinguished Sidford name in the community of Sion.  A little more than a year ago Ann (nee Kostiw) Sidford passed away herself.
"You've got your own personal history book on the Sion Community, we said to Jim III a couple of weeks ago.  
"What do you mean, I've got my book?" he questioned.  
"Ann's diary!" we explained.
Jim's wife Ann was a fantastic lady.  For almost 60 years she made daily entries in her diary which virtually gives
us a bird's eye view of the 20th Century as the Sion community experienced it.  
Today Ann is dwelling with the immortals, but her priceless diary would make a book of its own.  This diary is a pot of gold more valuable than the precious metal which originally inspired the Klondike Gold Rush.  
 
 
—Len Stahl
Adamstahl Associates Limited
Appendix 1
Ken Kowalski, MLA for the Barhead/Mornville/Westlock Constituency, who is also the Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly, is seen presenting a large centennial bronze plaque to Mr. Sidford. The presentation is in recognition of the fact that “Jim III” is still living on the original family homested at Sion, Alberta, which has been in the Sidford family for more then a century. The presentation was made on the occasion of Jim Sidford’s 84th birthday (July 21, 2011)