Johnson And Edith Lipsett
Today it’s hard to imagine a world without our town and its beautiful parks, exciting events and fabulous citizens, but as recently as 1950 the land that White City is built on was little more than a pasture for Johnson and Edith Lipsett’s herd of Galloway cows! Johnson, who started his trucking company Johnson Lipsett Enterprises in the mid-’50s, bought the first 80 acres from the R.M. of Edenwold — in spite of all the Negative Nancys around him telling him he was making a big mistake! Never one to back down from a challenge, Johnson was sure the land would one day be home to something much more fantastic than a cow pasture.
Although Edith and Johnson moved to Regina in their later years, the two of them never stopped delighting at the growth and beauty of White City. Johnson died in 1985 at the age of 83 and Edith passed in 1998 at the age of 95, but their sons continue to run Johnson Lipsett Enterprises, while their grandsons, who never knew a world without White City, wait in the wings to take over one day.
The Road Comes To Town
When the highway came through, Walter and Mona Mahoney, who had a good feeling that Johnson was right on about his venture east of Regina, asked him if they could purchase a lot. He said yes, and Edith’s father built the house — the very first that not-quite-yet-White-City would ever see — on what is now #4 Ramm Avenue. It didn’t take long for others to get the same idea: this cow pasture was going to be a good place to live! The Bierchenks were the second family to build on Ramm Avenue, quickly followed by the Dumurs, who bought up three lots on what we know as Gregory Avenue.
Even though White City was quickly becoming a place people wanted to call home, chartered banks refused to provide mortgages to the town’s pioneers. Instead, those wanting to develop land in those early days had to make arrangements with lumber yards to finance their homes. At the time, the average lot cost $600, with a $25 down payment! (A loaf of bread cost a nickel!)
Beginnings Of Our Village Council
Very quickly, Johnson Lipsett’s inklings about the potential in the area began to prove true, and by September 23, 1958, residents had gathered at the home of Blair Stewart to organize the first town committee, and maybe even eat some dainties. Bill Dumur was elected chairman that night, Blair Stewart became Secretary-Treasurer and Pete Dumba received the nomination as third member of the committee. The first order of business was getting power to the location. (No word on how they heated their homes those first winters. Maybe by burning the dried out cow patties that Johnson Lipsett’s cattle had left behind!) Another top priority was preparing a petition for the R.M. of Edenwold to request “Organized Hamlet” status. (Although it sounds similar to “ham omelette,” don’t be fooled. An organized hamlet is a designation for communities with at least five occupied lots. As you can see, by the end of 1958, White City was already growing.) It wasn’t easy, though, and the minutes of the very first Annual Resident Electors meeting, on January 30, 1960 note “Even though the Board had a very rough go during the first year, this community is here to stay.” They were right, and today White City boasts a population of over 3,000!
We salute the dedication and persistence of these pioneers as they boldly forged on with their goal of transforming a cow pasture into the bustling community we adore today. Without them, we wouldn’t have us.
What’s In A Name?
In the same way your granddad’s best yarns change a bit with every telling, the origin story of the name “White City” is always a little different depending on who you ask. A couple of the more popular explanations revolve around John Kadannek, a local from before the town was incorporated, and the owner of the Wheat City Novelty Shop. As the story goes, Mr. Kadannek had a sign made up and ready to go on his shop way back in 1954, when he discovered the name had already been taken. Thinking quick, he decided he decided the cheapest, easiest fix would be to alter the name, and the sign, to “White City Novelty Shop” instead. The other story involving Mr. Kadannek has him persuading Johnson Lipsett to name the community White City after the district in West Central London where Mr. Kadannek’s favourite aunt lived.
Or perhaps it was named after White City, New Mexico, or White City, Oregon. Webster’s New School and Office Dictionary offers the possibility that it was named after a “white city,” defined as “a pleasure resort with carousels, merry-go-rounds, switchbacks, and so called because the structures are painted white.” Or, as seems quite likely to this writer, perhaps the idea for the name simply swirled up like a blizzard, landing on someone’s doorstep one wintry afternoon.
The Pibroch School
The Pibroch School was first built in 1907, near the lagoon site south of White City. It offered local kids education from grades 1-8, although in the days before Greenall High School in Balgonie, anyone hoping to go on to grade 9 and higher had to take their classes by correspondence.
Miss Dorothy Charnock, the first teacher of Pibroch School, married the caretaker in 1947. For seven years, Milton Betteridge had been paid 25 cents a day to split wood and start the fire in the schoolhouse each frosty winter morning. His hard work and diligence paid off in 1947, when Miss Charnock became Mrs. Dorothy Betteridge!
After Mrs. Betteridge left the school, Marie Gottselig took over, teaching in 1958/59, and living in the teacherage. These women laid the foundations for the K-8 education kids in our community enjoy today.
First Community Hall & Community Hall Association
In 1966, the White City Ladies Club purchased the building from the Pibroch School District for the sum of $1. For the (just a little bit) grander sum of $500, the school was relocated to Lipsett Street where it became the cozy home to the White City Community Hall Association. The Ladies Club and the Community Hall Association merged on January 30, 1970, and the first directors of the brave new co-ed council were Jack Ramm, T.F. (Red) Masererek, Dave Schaffer, Fay Wild, and Ilse Biershank.
By Spring 1974, White City had outgrown the Community Hall Association, and the association was dissolved, to be reformed as the White City Recreation Board. It would operate under that name until 1984, when it became the White City Parks and Recreation Board that we know today.
The Dad’s Cookie Factory
By 1967, White City had outgrown its designation as a hamlet and become a village. As it grew, so did its potential, and it became a place where folks wanted to do business. The Dad’s Cookie Factory, which had been on Dewdney Avenue in Regina in the 1930s, before moving to Albert Street, decided that their growth had outpaced their building size once more. This time, though, Al Pickett had grander visions than a small warehouse in Regina. So he approached White City Council with his idea.
Al was going to build a cookie factory, it was going to need serious ovens, serious natural gas and serious cash. SaskEnergy wasn’t thrilled about the idea of running a natural gas pipeline out to a mere village, but the Council, which had already proved it knew a good idea when it heard one, knew that this was a good idea. And so they set to work rallying the villagers to raise money for the venture. The money came, and the factory was built, and natural gas came to White City. Dad’s operated there until it moved to Toronto in 1984.
Peerless Turkey Ranch
Not every business venture in White City had the same success as the Dad’s Cookie Factory. In 1959, residents filed a petition for the removal of the Peerless Turkey Ranch. The rather, ah, “pungent” aroma emitted from the facility at what is now 12 Gregory Avenue left much to be desired. Indeed, the petition reads “the escaping odor, due to excessive ammonia fumes, is unbearable, especially on warm summer days.” And if the stench wasn’t enough, “exhaust fans seem to whirl straw and manure around the area as far as 600 feet...residents, sitting on their summer porches ended up with turkey manure in their coffee.” The turkeys gobbled their last gobble in 1961.