Wounded, decorated with the Military Cross, and promoted to Captain during World War I, Archer Toole returned to Calgary following the armistice in 1918 and, with his typical calmness, continued his marriage with Phoebe that had begun only days before he was shipped out in 1915. Similarly, with the self-possessed manner that enabled him to handle a crisis equally as well on the battlefield as in the office, he resumed his employment at Toole Peet. Archer, like his brother Barney, had a charismatic look that he maintained throughout his life. Both had steel wills.
But, whereas Barney had an imposing bearing, Archer had a disarming, gentler look. Archer’s hair had a school boyish unruliness that gave away its owner’s youthful attitude. Perhaps to counteract his cheerful countenance, Archer chose round, wire-rimmed glasses that gave him a studious look and later grew a short-clipped moustache which added sternness to his genial smile. While he was best known locally for the role he played in the prosperity of Toole Peet for almost fifty years, Archer had another aspect, that of a notably brave and athletic man. This side of Archer was known to only a few who were aware that he had earned the admiration of his 31st Battalion as a crack shot in the trenches of France despite having only the use of one eye. It was also only known to a few that he turned aside a career as a professional soccer and badminton player, being a well-above-average player in both sports. He was probably tempted most to join a team of badminton professionals then touring the world; badminton at that time already being a highly popular sport. Interestingly, he never took up hunting, as did Barney who enthusiastically tramped the countryside with his beloved field dogs. Nor was Archer an abstainer, as was Barney.
The War Ends: Back to Business
Archer and Phoebe settled into Calgary life and were renowned for the delightful company they provided friends and acquaintances in their Elbow Park home. This home was sold in 1952 and they moved around the corner to Seventh Street where Archer’s grandson, Larry, the present president of the firm, and his wife Betti-Rae, and their two children, Colin and Laura, now live. Barney lived on the stretch of 11th Avenue, which to his probable dismay, is now called Electric Avenue.
Archer Toole’s composure after the war must have seemed almost bewildering to his associates because veterans were finding the adjustment to civilian life difficult. The hardships and dislocations of the war years raised new issues in western Canada and changed prairie attitudes forever. The return of the veterans compounded many smoldering problems. Political, religious and social movements had sprung up during the war years and veterans faced quandaries they were ill prepared to handle. The inevitable ethnic tension between the pre-war immigrant communities – many of whom had watched their homelands fighting on opposite sides – turned into ugly clashes. Women had been given the right to vote. The United Farmers of Alberta was becoming increasingly political. Churches and revivalist groups were gaining power as many political leaders closely allied themselves with a particular faith. The rise of John Brownlee exemplified the changing face of Alberta politics. Having been the legal adviser to the UFA for many years as well as a Methodist Sunday School teacher in the war years, Brownlee was elected Premier in 1925 only to have his career end abruptly in 1934 when a young government stenographer claimed he had seduced her.