Wednesday, April 16, 2014

William Kaleta mystery

A Flickr photographer that I follow recently posted the above picture with a request for anyone to explain the story behind the grave marker.  Thank you so much, John.  Could not resist trying to find an answer to your question.  Half a day later...

An initial Google search found a lot of hockey references, which I ignored (at first).

So then I checked my bookmarks.  My browser has all kinds of historical websites for when I do family searches, so I thought I'd give it a go for William Kaleta.  Thing is, I started with William and couldn't stop once I found an article in the Lethbridge Herald.  Here is what I found.


[Lethbridge Herald article issued July 21, 1953] - Calgary - CP -

Dragging operations are continuing on Spray Lakes, 15 miles southwest of Canmore, for the bodies of two miners drowned Sunday night when their small fishing boat capsized 100 yards off shore.

RCMP from Canmore are conducting the search for the bodies of William Kaleta and Bert Czeck, both about 35 and residents of the Canmore district.

A third member of the fishing party, Steve Jerwa, 40, also of Canmore, escaped the fate of his partners when he managed to cling to the bottom of the upturned boat for an hour until rescued by another boatman.

Newspaper Archive

So then I did a search on the survivor, Steve Jerwa, thinking maybe at one time he told the story of their accident.  I found that Steve died in 1992 and is buried in Canmore [Findagrave].  Also found a brief bio on Lawrence website: Steve Jerwa - Retired Coal Miner.  But nothing was mentioned about William or the boating accident.

Then I thought, maybe there's something in the hockey references.  A Kaleta searched found Alex (Killer) Kaleta who was born in Canmore, played for the Blackhawks, and is attributed for the term "hat trick."  A hat company offered him a free hat he was eyeing, if he scored 3 goals in one game.  He scored 4 and got the hat.  SOURCE: Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends - Killer Kaleta  It also mentions that he was the son of a coal miner.    Findagrave  Hmmm.

The search to solve the mystery of the grave marker continues.


  1. What a great story!! Really looking forward to ant updates. That "hat trick" bit is a piece of trivia I know Ed won't know hahahaha.

  2. Good work. Maybe try parks Canada or someone similar. I'm sure the local park rangers must know?