William Reading came to Canada in the mid 1880's and worked as a surveyor with the railroad in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. Following the completion of his work there, he joined the Mounted Police and was posted to Calgary in 1888. It was said that he was an excellent horseman.
One Sunday morning, he took the superintendent's horse out of the barns for exercise. After a brisk 20 minute ride, he headed back to the barracks down Stephen Avenue. He approached a sidewalk crossing and pulled the horse up to stop. He pulled up too sharply and the horse reared up. Reading tried to correct, but the horse fell over backwards on top of him. He died later that afternoon. The newspapers said that he was to be buried in "The new cemetery".
Constable Reading was missed as much in the town as in the barracks. He was very active in the community and a member of both the Football and Cricket clubs. He was particularly good at Cricket and had scored more points than anyone in the previous season.
Constable Reading's death shows us that, regardless of a person's skills, the dangers of life in the early West were always present.
In 1890, it was said that Calgary had developed from a frontier village to a modern town with all the requirements of larger centres like Winnipeg, but the economy became stagnant in 1891. By 1895, Sgt. Fred Brooke wrote in one of his reports that people were leaving, the farmers were pulling up stakes and there were over 50 vacant houses in town where the population was just over 3000.
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