Muriel Clara (Kerr) Wilson
Muriel Clara Kerr was born on May 24, 1929 to Kenneth and Clara Kerr in their family home in Millet, Alberta. Muriel grew up with seven older siblings: Alex, Gladys, Gordon, Laurence, Kenneth, Stewart, and Helen, and one younger sibling, Eleanor. The family lived in a home on one of the main streets in Millet, near Kenneth’s machinery shop. Muriel spent most of her younger years playing games such as kick-the-can and hide-and-seek in the back lane with her siblings and other neighborhood children. As she got older, Muriel enjoyed working in her father’s machinery shop and driving tractors and other large pieces of machinery.
Muriel completed her education in Millet, graduating in 1947. After graduation, Muriel moved to the Okanagan and accepted a job picking fruit. She later returned to Millet and applied to work in Woodward’s general office. Due to Muriel’s experience at her father’s business she was able to rise to the position of assistant to the general manager, Mr. Russell. While working at Woodward’s, Muriel was a part of the curling team and was known to be one of the best players. She was even able to beat the boys.
Muriel met her husband George Wilson while working at Woodward’s, as he was a fellow staff member. As they worked together, they got to know each other and found that they had many similar interests. They married on July 29, 1961. After their marriage, Muriel was forced to leave her job at Woodward’s because of company policy. The couple bought a house in Edmonton and shortly after bought the McConnell farm in Millet. Although neither of them had ever lived on a farm before, they wanted a new experience, so they decided to start breeding cattle. George and Muriel continued to live in Edmonton while a new house was being built on their farm. During that time Muriel’s brother Stewart helped to look after the farming. Once they moved to the acreage, George continued to commute to and from work every day.
While living on the farm, George and Muriel bred and sold pure-bred cattle. Muriel had always loved the outdoors, so it was no surprise that she loved being able to have her own farm. She would sit for hours out in the barn while the cows were giving birth to make sure that there were no complications. George and Muriel were rather successful when it came to breeding and selling cattle, and even shipped some of their cattle overseas to Europe.
When not working on the farm, Muriel was involved in many organizations in and around Millet. These included The Order of the Eastern Star, The United Church Women, The Agricultural Society, and The Millet and District Historical Society.
Although The Order of the Eastern Star was difficult to join, Muriel was allowed membership as her father had been a mason and her mother had previously been a member. The Order encouraged volunteerism: they taught Muriel that she should try to help those around her as much as she could by offering her services to them with no questions asked. This idea was something that Muriel cherished.
Muriel had seen a need for a skating rink in Millet and wanted to bring one to the community. This led to the formation of a group now known as The Agricultural Society. The Agriculture Society would put on many events in the community, Muriel’s favorite being the Bench Show. This was an event where individuals could bring their baking, canning, handicrafts, and other produce to be judged with prizes awarded for the best in each category.
As a founding member of The Millet and District Historical Society, Muriel has helped to preserve the history of the area. When the Historical Society had their first meeting in 1976, their plan was to write a book that explored the history of Millet and then open a museum. Muriel was a part of the book committee and came up with the title for the book, Tales and Trails of Millet. Once the society finished their book in 1978, they began to focus on opening up a museum. After many unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable location, they got permission to build a museum in the future Town Administration Building. The museum opened in 1985. Over the years, Muriel held many different roles in Historical Society. She served as President in 1981 and again from 1992 to 1994. She served as Vice President from 1985 to 1986 and again in 1989, and served as treasurer in 1995. Along with these large roles, Muriel also was a part of many committees, including the Museum Committee, the Manor Committee, the Acquisition Committee, and the Finance Committee.
Muriel’s leadership came to the forefront as the head of the Manor Committee, which campaigned for a senior’s complex in Millet. This was a much larger project than they had planned, but they were determined. When the government finally agreed to construct the building, the Historical Society offered to operate it as the sponsoring organization. In 1983, the John A. Smith Manor opened its doors to its first residents, although the official opening was not held until 1984. When it opened, Muriel took on the position of manager, which she held until 1995.
When they were not busy with social activities, the Wilsons enjoyed traveling the world. Some of the places they visited include Russia, England, Germany, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, and Finland. Their favorite place to visit was New Zealand, which they visited over 10 times. In 2013, they moved into Sunrise Village in Wetaskiwin. George passed away on January 27, 2015. Muriel still lives at Sunrise Village in the apartment they had shared together.
Whenever Muriel saw a problem, she was determined to solve it. She will always be remembered for the work she has done for the community and surrounding areas.