Tregillus, William John
• 37th Street and Bow Trail
William John Tregillus was born near Plymouth, England in 1858, the eldest son of John Tregillus and Emma Daw. He married Lillian Chapman in 1880 and the couple had four children. Tregillus worked as a miller and farmer before moving to Canada in 1902 with his wife, two children, a mother’s helper and a groom. He bought land west of Calgary where he established a ranch and in 1903 built a sprawling red brick mansion "Rosscarrock."
Tregillus started out as a horse rancher but soon turned to dairy farming – a novelty in cattle country. He built a herd of 60 cows into one of the finest Holstein herds in the province and established the Tregillus Pure-Bred Stock Farm. According to historian Max Foran, Tregillus " processed the city’s first pasteurized milk in his own bottling and processing plant" supplying local customers and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Other business enterprises included a brick manufacturing company called Tregillus Clay Products and the publication of an early Calgary directory in 1913.
Throughout his life Tregillus played an active part in Alberta’s agricultural development. In 1910 he was elected vice-president of the United Farmers of Alberta and president the following year - an office he held until his death. Under his vigorous leadership, the Alberta Farmers’ Co-operative Elevator Company was formed with Tregillus as a director and later president. The A.F.C.E., one of the most organized agricultural cooperatives in North America at the time, enabled Alberta farmers to exercise control over commodities they produced. Tregillus was often enouraged to run for a seat in the legislature, but his commitment to farmers’ unions and fear of a conflict of interest between the two bodies prevented him from accepting the invitation.
Tregillus served as a city alderman (1912-1914), chairman of a Calgary Public School Board, President of the Calgary Horticultural Society, and of the Calgary Choral Society. He was a member of the Local Improvement Council and wrote extensively about agricultural issues for newspapers and agricultural journals. Tregillus supported the movement to establish Calgary University and in 1909 donated 160 acres of his Rosscarrock land as a site for the project. The fledgling college was closed and the idea abandoned after the provincial government denied Calgary degree-granting status for the third time in 1915.
Tregillus died of typhoid fever in Calgary on November 12, 1914. A street in northwest Calgary bears his name.
To learn more about William Tregillus check out your local library for Max Foran’s article "William J. Tregillus" in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. XIV p. 1006-1008 (University of Toronto Press, 1998) and Donald B. Smith’s article, “Will Tregillus: An Alberta Booster a Century Ago” in Alberta History 2010 vol. 38 no. 3 pp. 2-10.