|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,
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
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
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.