Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association

Historical Timeline


Ontario-born Dr. Frederick Anson Keillor moved to Raymond, Alberta, where he met and married Martha Lillian Lyons. They moved to South Edmonton and he opened a medical practice above The Princess Theater on Whyte Avenue.


A major flood occurred in the river valley. Dr. Keillor followed the river's devastation to the edge of the city to view one of John Walter's properties. It was situated 52 feet above the river's low level just west of Saskatchewan Drive and east of Whitemud Creek. Four days later Keillor left for Europe to serve in WW1. The flood destroyed John Walters fortunes and the Imperial Bank reposessed the land Keillor admired. The city voted to preserve the river valley.


On his return from the war, Captain Keillor purchased the 61-acre parcel of land, stretching from Grandview Drive to the North Saskatchewan River. He used the last logs floated down the river from Tomahawk (near Wabamun) to build a two-storey log cabin.


Edmontonians were welcomed at Keillor Farm for horse riding, hiking, biking, swimming, picnics, birdwatching and photography. It also became home to four canoe clubs and a ski club, with the good doctor providing electricity for the lights and ski tow. "Doc" Keillor donated 500 Upland Spruce trees to the city and helped build the Granite Curling Club. He managed the South Edmonton Vet hospital, worked as city coroner and had a private practice. Elected as city alderman, he refused payment, stating, "It’s an honour to serve."


The Keillors moved to the Garneau area. Farm managers were hired to raise livestock. All proceeds went to improvements. Keillor Farm served as a retreat and public recreation area.


Dr. Keillor donated land for a road to Whitemud Creek (named Keillor Road after his death). The City asked for— and received—an additional 10 acres along the river. Mrs. Keillor requested a fair land exchange from the city. Within a few years the road was so busy with cars that a footpath was added by the riverside.


Dr. Keillor was re-elected as an alderman for a three year term. The stone house and stone fence were added. Both historic homes remain on the site and in use. During the Depression Keillor defended farmers who could not pay taxes. He saved a family of 10 from eviction by covering their taxes himself and eventually buying that farm so they could continue to farm and live there.


Individuals offer Keillor a fortune for his property, but he turned everyone down, preferring to "keep it intact, for the people". Mid 1950s Keillor Farm was leased to Leecoll Stables, founded by Cliff Ross, Leo Lemiuex and Bill Collins, a world-class horse trainer. Lorne Green and Michael Landon of Bonanza, and Chuck Connors of The Rifleman came to Edmonton and rode horses trained at Leecoll when they were Guests of Honour at Canada’s First Indoor Rodeos. Mark Laskin of Canada’s Equestrian Team and World Champion Gail Greenough trained here.


City expropriated 12 acres to build Fox Drive through the centre of the farm, but a selling price was never reached. Keillor put every cent he made back into the farm. In return for Keillor's good citizenship, the city lowered the farm tax to 1.00/year for the rest of his life.


Dr. Keillor died. The City purchased the farm from his daughters for $248,500.


Rod Edwards leases the stables. Little Bits Therapeutic Riding programs begin and have continued for over 33 years. 1978-1981 Grant MacEwan Community College operates its Equine Studies diploma program at Whitemud.


Jean Archer and Jan Sernyk, Grant MacEwan instructors, become the new operators of Whitemud Equine Centre. The Archer's dedicate 22 years. The city recovers what they paid for the farm through lease and taxes.


The World Cup equestrian event is held at Whitemud.


Council approves a policy paper for Equestrian Activities in Edmonton and Parks and Rec recommends replacement of facilities but no money is allocated. 1995 City Council approves the Master Plan for Renewal of Whitemud Equine Centre, which is reviewed in 1998 and updated in 1999. The site is leased by WECA from the City. Keillor Road is closed to vehicular traffic.


A landslide wipes out a section of Keillor Road. 2004 The Whitemud Equine Centre Association and Friends of the Whitemud Equine Centre assess program expansion and major improvements. 2006 The two associations merge, forming the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association. The River Valley Alliance incorporates the site’s redevelopment into its Master Plan.


The site is recognized as a public treasure, supporting the community for recreation and respite, shows and lessons, riders and boarders. It begins preparations to launch an all-out effort to upgrade the facilities and expand programs.


WELCA applies for and receives a Community Facilities Enhancement Program grant for $125,000 to restore Keillor Cabin, improve the show grounds and start work on the redevelopment of the facilities. The grant will be matched with casino funds and volunteer time.


Renovations to Keillor Cabin include replacing the ancient boiler, electrical wiring, plumbing, eaves troughs, new kitchen floor, cabinets, countertops, sink, fridge, refinishing the hardwood throughout.

The Redevelopment Steering Committee is formed with representatives from the original founding organizations of Whitemud Equine Centre: Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association, Edmonton Hunter Jumper Association, and Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association. IBI Group is hired to develop the functional programming, site plans and detailed Business Case required by the City of Edmonton for partner facilities. The deadline is March 2010.

Edmonton Hunter Jumper Association announces its plan to bring the Edmonton Northlands Horse Show back to the show grounds at Whitemud Equine Learning. The second largest horse show in Alberta, this represents a major endorsement for WELCA’s redevelopment by the horse community.


Ketchum Canada Inc. begins a feasibility study to determine the potential for the major capital fundraising campaign required for the redevelopment.

Upcoming Events

Little Bits Spring Session

11 week program starts April 1

Balanced Rider Put Into Practice

April 29 6pm - classroom

Corrective Exercises by Jenifer Parks, Equiletics

Presented by EAADA $30/session or $50/both
April 26 7-9pm Classroom
May 3 7-9pm Classroom

Breath Work Clinic with Karl Faes (16+ only)

May 4 5-9pm Classroom

Pony Poop Compost Sale 10am-2pm

May 5 & 6
May 20 & 21

Edmonton Kubota Demo Days

May 12 & 13 - show grounds

J Percy Page Career Day

May 16

Edmonton Classic Horse Show

Cancelled for 2018

AB Green Certificate Testing

May 30 and 31

Moonlight in the Meadows

Technology networking conference - show grounds
June 8

WELCA Horsemanship Year End Show

Kids, Hounds & Homecooking
June 23 & 24

Pony Up Half Day Summer Camps (ages 4-9)

July 9-13 FULL
July 23-27 FULL
August 6-10 FULL

Horse Rider Summer Camps (ages 9-14)

July 2-6 FULL
July 16-20 FULL
August 13-17 FULL

Feathered Horse Classic Show

July 20-22

Equine Massage Therapy Long Course

August 6 - September 14

Edmonton Kennel Club Regional Dog Show

August 8-12

AB North Pony Club Show

August 22 - 26

Chasing the Wind - Story of Horses

Documentary Viewing Party
September 16, 8pm - Classroom

Horse Racing Alberta

p. 780.435.3597
e. info@welca.ca

Map to WELCA