21 Sept. 1928 to 4 Nov. 2007

By Kathy Latta and Izola Mottershead


Alex Latta Jr. was born September 12th, 1928 in Edmonton, Alberta, to Alex Latta Sr. and Catherine "Jessie" Brix. With older brother, David, and later, sister Izola, Alex grew up in the house on Jasper Avenue next to the bridge named for their grand- father, D. G. Latta. He attended Alex Taylor School and Victoria High School. His parents divorced and both re-married. His step-mother, Grace Oscroft, was a loving influence and when he was ten she gave birth to his half-brother, Douglas.

While still a youth, Alex worked in his grand-father's shop and later worked for his father at Alex Latta Ltd. The experience from those jobs helped him to get his own business started. In partnership with his younger brother Doug, and their friend Doug Hart, Alex started Gambit Productions Ltd., a machine shop specializing in the manufacture of small parts for other manufacturers. Today it is a thriving business under the management of Doug's son, Michael.

One of the smartest moves Alex ever made was to court and marry the young nurse who was looking after his ailing grandfather. Alice McDougall was a devoted wife and mother to his six children: Shirley, Kathleen (Kathy), the twins Laurie and Alex III, Shauna and Carol. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren were a job to him in his later years.

Throughout his adult life, Alex was a member of the Highlands Masonic Lodge. A staunch supporter, Alex regularly attended meetings until his health made it difficult for him. Indeed, he often credited the Masons with instilling values in him which helped him throughout his life.

He was a great storyteller who dabbled in poetry and prose. Some of his stories have been published in the "Edmonton" In Our Own Words" and other works have been posted on his web page: His sense of humor was legendary and he was fond of playing tricks on just about anyone he met. There are several people who still sport one of his puzzles dangling from a buttonhole - he didn't always remember to pass on the instructions for removing it. The boys at Gambit made dozens of these, all suitably engraved in Alex's memory, to be handed out at his Memorial service. Of course, the instructions were included.

Alex enjoyed sharing his knowledge on a variety of topics and was a patient teacher to anyone with an enquiring mind.

  Even though Alex and Alice each had hobbies of their own, his being chess, card gaming, curling, golf and genealogy, they still enjoyed the time they spent together doing things that gave them mutual satisfaction. They would take their family on vacations along the Yellowstone River picking rocks, looking for agates. It took on a safari-like atmosphere when the children were told to look out for rattle snakes and black-widow spiders, neither of which could be found in their own vicinity. When they went to the Okanogan they brought back fruit, but from Yellowstone they brought back cartons of rocks! They took up lapidary and there are several pieces of agate jewelry to be passed down.

A former employee of Gambit, Alex Halliburton, who was a Scottish immigrant and a talented artist, asked them to take pictures of old log cabins when on their treks into the countryside. Who needs an excuse for a country picnic? Plans would be made on any available weekend, a different route to be plotted each time, and often ended up at a friend's home or Doug's lake just in time for supper. Lunch often saw them picnicking at a Greek Orthodox Churchyard. These were all so different and the grandchildren will wonder why there are so many pictures of them. One of the albums on display at Alex's memorial service was the one of all those log cabin/Greek Orthodox churches. Often while scouting around for old homesteads, they furthered their curiosity by asking the landowner for permission to look for and dig the old dump site. From this Alex, Alice and Kathy got into antique bottle collecting. They also assisted in developing the Wild Rose Antiques and Bottle Collecting Society in Edmonton which hosts many well attended shows each year. One year the City decided to dig an area of an older city dump for the purpose of developing the land to build a new stadium. The Club got wind of this and soon had a contract with the City to dump the dirt in a certain spot of the nuisance grounds, then the Club went to task digging up old treasures. Ginger beers, ceramic jugs, cobalt medicine bottles, fruit jars, hand-blown ink wells, torpedo-bottomed bottles, round-bottomed wine bottles, etc., all found as a result of first taking pictures in the country!

  In later years this industrious pair decided to explore their overseas roots, and for over twenty years and as many trips they would return home with tales of having walked in the footsteps of Moore, Keating, Yeats and Shakespeare! they explored Alice's Scottish roots, and Alex's Irish ones. They brought back a wealth of pictures of homes, courtyards, and surrounding lands that pertained to the history of their ancestors. Alex always got a kick out of looking for anyone named Latta and the stories he told when he came back from these expeditions were not all written down, and were lost when he passed away. Kathy has only vague memories of some of these tales.

When Alex would meet new Lattas he would talk, take pictures and bring back the stories they shared. One time he met a trio living in the same thatched farmhouse that they grew up in . He asked permission to take photographs but one individual preferred to get his teeth for this special occasion and went off to get them. They waited and conversed for a long time and finally the gentleman came back without his teeth. He had left them on a fencepost while doing chores and couldn't come up with them immediately!

While traveling down to New Mexico to visit Branch 16 cousins, the Milligans, Alex stopped for a meal near Aztec, and while eating, grabbed a local phone book and of course, looked up the Lattas in the book. He was able to get in touch with Sale Latta, an Arts teacher I believe. The timing was not good, but while at the Milligan's he was able to determine which branch they are from. On his next visit through the area, he was invited to stay over and get to know Dale and his family. Alex so enjoyed this visit, and later, after going back to Ireland and taking photos of the actual remains of the farmstead building, asked Dale to pain the picture. This was done and it hangs in the Gambit office. Dale also honored us with a picture of Alex, now also hanging there. Another picture, of two Lattas by a thatched cottage will hand in Kathy's home. They are siblings Tom and Jean Latta of Rooskey.

As Alex's health took its tool on his activities, he could be found daily at his computer, conversing with people all over the world, and relishing his part in the ongoing work of Latta genealogy and the many successes he had had trying to put two and two together to make one. We would like to thank all of you who helped make his last years more enjoyable and who so willingly shared stories and information with him. He was a very proud LATTA.