Opening the Vault – Legal Archives Society of Alberta

In this post, “Opening the Vault” features a treasure from the Legal Archives Society of Alberta in Calgary submitted by Archivist Brenda McCafferty.

Will of Peter A. Prince and Emma Howe, 1901, Lougheed and Bennett fonds, LASA

The Last Will and Testament of Peter A. Prince and his wife Emma Howe

My favourite item from LASA’s holdings is the signed last will and testament of Peter A. Prince and his second wife Emma Howe dated 1901.  The documents were executed by the famous Calgary lawyer (who later became Canada’s 11th Prime Minister), Viscount Richard B. Bennett, K.C. of the well-known Lougheed & Bennett Law Firm in Calgary.  Intact on the envelope is the official seal used by R.B. Bennett.   The colourful red wax seal is my favourite part about the donation and after more than a hundred years it remains intact without damage on the envelope.  Emma Howe passed away a year later in 1902 and Peter Prince, who remarried twice thereafter, later revised his will.  The document although noteworthy, has no legal effect but puts to rest the mystery of the last name and identity of Prince’s second wife Emma and also sheds interesting light on this poor forgotten figure.

The Prince House

Pioneer industrialist Peter Prince (1836-1925) was a Quebec-born millwright who moved from Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 1886 to set up and manage Calgary’s Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company.  The city’s Eau Claire district owes its name to Prince’s enterprise, and into what is now Prince’s Island Park.  In 1894 Prince built a magnificent three-storey house based on plans published in Scientific American.  Here he lived with his four wives:  Marguerite Corogan, who died of diabetes in 1898; Emma Howe, an invalid who died of tuberculosis in 1902; Rosa Douglas, who died of cancer in 1907; and Emily Whitlock, a widow whom he married in 1909, and who outlived him.

Might Emma Howe be the Ghost Haunting the Prince House at Heritage Park?

In 1967, the mansion in which most of Peter’s wives lived and died was moved to Heritage Park.

The house originally stood at 238 – 4th Avenue S.W., in the Eau Claire District.  Since being at Heritage Park there have been many questionable occurrences on the third floor of the house that is closed off to the public.  One evening, a security guard noticed all the lights on the third floor were on, although there was no electricity up there.  Individuals have also reported seeing a woman dressed in a flowing white dress, playing with a baby in the nursery of the house, only to look again and see no one.  And there have been strange electrical disturbances reported.  Certain members of the staff are even unwilling to enter the home alone!


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