This historical house on Main Street was built by Ben Rimbey at the turn of the century.

Ben Rimbey’s historical house still standing on Main Street

Rieki Rondeel sits quietly knitting in her pleasant, cozy sunroom on 50th Street that she has lived in since 1966.

Rieki Rondeel sits quietly knitting in her pleasant, cozy sunroom on 50th Street that she has lived in since 1966.

Except for the click of the knitting needles and a little white dog whose bark is, no doubt, much worse than his bite, the house is quiet now.

But, if the walls could talk, what stories and yarns and tales they would reveal.

Oh, if only they could.

This old house has a history that goes back, way back to the days when Rimbey was not much more than a dream and a vision of the men for whom the town was named after.

“This is Ben Rimbey’s house,” Rondeel says proudly. “This is a piece of Rimbey’s history that people need to know about.”

As in most communities in Alberta, the story of Rimbey begins at the turn of the century.

The town became an official community in 1902. The first name given to the settlement at the turn of the century was Kansas Ridge as many of the settlers came from Kansas.

Among them were the three Rimbey brothers (Sam, Ben and Jim) for whom the town was officially named after in 1904. The Rimbeys, originally from Pennsylvania, moved to Canada from Scott County, Illinois, having moved to Illinois in the 1830s from Maryland.

It is recorded that Ben Rimbey registered three quarter sections for his family in 1899. Rondeel is not certain when the house was built. She believes it was completed in 1903 or 1904 and notes that Ben Rimbey lived in another house first, which she assumes was used as living quarters until his two-storey framed structure was completed.

She notes that the original logs in the front entry are original as are the steep stairs leading to the upstairs bedrooms.

With a huge family of 11 children to raise, the Rondeels were required to make many renovations to the Ben Rimbey house including putting in a bathroom and an extra bedroom.

A basement was also built.

Although the house was built with minimal (newspapers were found in the ceiling) insultation she said it is warm and cozy.

The veranda was removed as the wood had rotted, making it unsafe.

Today if one is driving down the Main Street of Rimbey, once called Jasper Avenue, it is easy to overlook the two-storey house that once belonged to Ben Rimbey.

But the house has a historical value that should not be forgotten.

It was standing, a proud and sturdy town landmark, in 1919, when the Lacombe and Blindman Valley Electric Railway (later part of the Canadian Pacific Railway, reached Rimbey.

By this time the new town was starting to prosper. Soon, two elevators were built and the town boasted a population of 319.

Sadly, the Second Word War did not leave Rimbey untouched, claiming many of the town’s young men.

Some returned, some did not. By 1946, the population had reached 634.

When the Rondeels moved into the Ben Rimbey house, the appearance of 50th Avenue itself was beginning to change.

But, the house, which had played such a significant role in the town’s history remained, and is still standing today.

“Except for the shape, it doesn’t really look like an old house anymore,” said Rondeel. “But it is, it really is, and I’m glad I still live here. I’m proud of this house.”

 

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