William Puffer - Early Life

Early Life

Born in North Crosby, Ontario, on November 1, 1861, Puffer was the son of a United Empire Loyalist. He married Charlotte Ann Gilmore, with whom he would have seven children, on July 1, 1885. They came west in 1889 and homesteaded near Olds, before finally settling in Lacombe in 1893. Puffer was engaged in several businesses, dealing in cattle, lumber, dairy products, and farm implements. In 1900, he established a butchery in Lacombe next to a laundry operated by Hop Chung, a Chinese immigrant. When Chung wished to bring his wife and children over from China but could not afford the C$500 head tax, Puffer paid it; Chung's family arrived in Lacombe in 1908, making her one of the first Chinese women in Alberta. In 1911 both Puffer's butchery and Chung's laundry burnt down, and they rebuilt a single building to share.

Besides his friendship with Chung, Puffer spoke fluent Cree and took what was then the unusual step of employing First Nations people.

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