Just as in the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, each of us impacts the lives of others in vital (but sometimes forgotten) ways. Like the film’s hero George Bailey, Evelyn Edwards performed a crucial act of bravery one winter during her childhood.

Evelyn was born at Glenbow in April 1912, the first child of Jessie and Cecil Edwards. They lived at the general store where Cecil was storekeeper and postmaster from 1910 to 1918. Evelyn’s little brother, Harris, was also born at Glenbow. The Edwards subsequently moved to a farm at Delia, Alberta, where the family grew.

On December 1, 1923, when Evelyn was 11 years old, her parents drove the five miles into town and left her in charge of her three younger siblings. While Evelyn was caring for her 11-month-old brother, one of the other young boys (aged three and eight) began playing with a lantern and matches, and inadvertently set fire to the henhouse. Evelyn “inspected the extent of the fire, decided it was beyond anything she could manage and got busy with the telephone.” Neighbours rushed to the rescue. Losses were limited to the henhouse, ten chickens, a granary, and a wagon. Evelyn’s “pluck and presence of mind” had saved the house, the barn, and the lives of her brothers.

Evelyn Edwards (Glenbow’s holiday poster child) is the perfect embodiment of the moral of It’s a Wonderful Life: all of us have a part to play in caring for the people and places around us. Wishing you all a safe and warm holiday season.


Although the newspaper article that reported this incident did not name the child with the matches, fire did seem to haunt the life of Harris. During the Second World War, he served as a flight mechanic and witnessed the fiery crash landing of his little brother’s plane. (They all survived). Back home in 1955, Harris was appointed division fire warden of his rural municipality. How long he held this position is unknown, but in 1961, while his station wagon was parked in his field, it was destroyed by fire.

This article was originally printed in THE BERGEN NEWS and is being reprinted with permission.

Leave a Reply