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Trail Blazers: Pioneers and their pampered pooches

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives
Duncan Aldridge holding an armful of Pekingese puppies circa the early 1900s. Photo: Trail Historical Society

While life is forever evolving, one constant remains — people have always and will always love to pamper their pooches.

Case in point is this photo from over a century ago showing a young Trail boy cuddling his puppies.

“Spring is a time for birds, grass, chicks, and puppies,” begins Addison Oberg, collections coordinator for the Trail Museum and Archives.

“This young lad is Duncan Aldridge and he is holding an armful of Pekingese puppies,” she continues.

“Duncan was the eldest son of Walter Hull Aldridge, who was contracted to manage the Canadian Pacific Railway and eventually brought the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (now Teck Trail) into existence in 1906.”

Walter Aldridge oversaw and drafted the first installment of an electrolytic lead refinery in the Trail plant.

The Aldridges were influential, educated and remained in Trail until 1911, when they left for the United States. Walter Aldridge went on to have many more achievements in his life until his passing in 1959.

“These beautiful little puppies were bred by the Aldridges, they were avid animal lovers,” Oberg said. “And they likely went on to be pampered, household pooches.”

Duncan Aldridge

A quick internet search to delve into the life of the young boy in this week’s Trail Blazers feature, reveals that Duncan MacFarland Aldridge was born Jan. 19, 1902 in Trail. He was son of Walter Hull Aldridge and Nancy Elnorah S. (Tuttle) Garner. He was brother to Katherine (Aldridge) Zadra and Walter Volney Aldridge. Duncan died Sept. 25, 1969 in Midland County, Texas, USA.

According to a 1940 U.S. census, Duncan married Florence Raye Smoot in 1912. Florence died in 2002. The couple had two daughters Darlene Aldridge, born in Texas, in 1938, and Mary Jane Wiggins (date of birth unknown).

Memorial taken from Princeton Alumni Weekly 1970 Volume 70

Dunc Aldridge died of cancer in Midland, Texas on Sept. 25, 1969. He was 67 years old. Funeral services were held in the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in Midland,

He was born in Trail, British Columbia, on Jan. 19, 1902, the son of Walter Hill and Maude Miller Aldridge. Dunc prepared for Princeton at Harvard Military School, Los Angeles and Kent.

At Princeton, he was a letter man in water polo, and got his numerals in football and lacrosse. In his sophomore year he was on the football squad, and his brother Walt writes, “I remember him playing part of the third period against Notre Dame in 1923 … and the famous Four Horseman failed to make any gains around Dunc’s end.”

Dunc left Princeton at the end of sophomore year. He was interested in the oil business and in 1946 went to Midland, where he became a partner in the firm Aldridge & Stroud, drilling contractors. He was active until his retirement in 1963. He was a member of the American Institute of Mining & Metallurgical Engineers.

In 1936 he married Florence Smoot of Longview, Texas, who survives him as do two daughters, Mrs. Darlene Galle of Euless, Texas and Mrs. Mary Jane Wiggins of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., his mother who lives in New York, his brother, a sister, Mrs. Katherine Zadra of Charlottesville, Va., and three grandchildren.

Walt’s letter ended thus, “As you guessed, Dunc’s original throat operation in early November of 1968 failed to contain the cancer. He was making a spectacular recovery until April 1969, when it was discovered that the cancer had spread into his chest and was inoperable. During the last torturous months Dunc displayed his wonderful will to win; he never lost his sense of humour, his smile, and he never asked for sympathy.”

The Class grieves Dunc’s death, and extends its heartfelt sympathy to his family.

The Class of 1926

Side note

Duncan’s parents, Walter and Nancy Aldridge married Jan. 11, 1899 in St. George’s Church, Rossland. Walter and Nancy must have divorced because records show Duncan’s father later married Maud Ethel Miller Aldridge on Mar 18, 1914 in Alameda County, California. As noted in Duncan’s 1969 obituary, whether in error or intentional, Maud Miller is mentioned as his mother, living in New York. Duncan’s birth mother Nancy died Dec. 7, 1956 in Medford, Oregon, USA.

Maud and Walter Aldridge at their ‘Auld Ridge’ home in New York. Photo: WikiTree
Maud and Walter Aldridge at their ‘Auld Ridge’ home in New York. Photo: WikiTree

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Sheri Regnier

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