Skip main navigation
close
Skip main navigation

The Father of Magrath

Levi Harker Left Lasting Legacy in Southern Alberta

A native of Taylorsville, Utah, Levi Harker grew up the youngest son in a family of sheepherders. It was that pursuit that took Levi’s brother Ephraim to Alberta, Canada, when the area was first opened for settlement.

Making his home in Cardston, Ephraim ranged 20,000 sheep, which at the time was called Canada’s largest flock. Levi joined his brother in Canada in June 1892, and together they partnered in the long-time family business for several years. Levi also served as director of the Canadian Woolgrowers Association and president of the Alberta Woolgrowers Association during his thirty-seven years in the sheep business.1

In addition to his standing in the business world, Levi was known as “a man who walked with the Lord and the Lord was always with him.” That devotion to his faith would earn Levi the title of “father of Magrath” thanks to an 1899 call to help colonize the new town of Magrath, Alberta, roughly 25 miles away from Cardston.2

Levi served as the Magrath Ward’s first bishop and remained in that position for thirty-two years. Levi was also the town’s mayor for two terms, organized the first store in Magrath (the Magrath Trading Company), and served on the town’s City Council.3 Eventually, Levi Harker became Magrath’s patriarch.

Levi and his wife, Martha Burns Harker, were the parents of nine sons and one daughter. Levi died September 5, 1939, in Magrath. A week later, the Lethbridge Herald wrote that “the passing of no man who ever lived in [Magrath] was more deeply mourned than that of Bishop Levi Harker, ‘Father of Magrath.’”4

Footnotes

[1] Stella H. Richards, “The Harker Family—Sheepmen,” Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 9, Kate B. Carter, compiler, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966, p.596-599.

[2] Stella H. Richards, “The Harker Family—Sheepmen,” Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 9, Kate B. Carter, compiler, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966, p.596-599.

[3] “Levi Harker,” Alberta Past and Present, Historical and Biographical, Vol. III, Chicago, Ill., Pioneer Historical Publishing Co., 1924., 89-90.

[4] Harker Heritage, Levi & Martha, privately published, 1993, Church Archives, 90.