What I was told and saw and remember during my life on the farm…
This is an account of what I was told and saw and remember during my life on the farm (in Shell River and later when the railroad was built, going from Prince Albert to Debden, then to North Battleford) — the territories where we lived were called Pascal.
A grain elevator was even built to accommodate the farmers who grew wheat on their farms. Cattle were shipped to Prince Albert to be sold.
Pascal was a little place with only 2 stores and the elevator. Next to it was the White Fish Reserve.
Dad had to build barns, one for the horses with a loft to store the hay, and one for the cows. We also had two wells, one for the household and one for the cattle. To build these barns, chicken coops, sheds and garages, they had to have lumber. So Dad and the boys would chop down the trees and in the Spring they would get this man called Gastongay. He had a little saw and log carrier. He could cut those logs and make 2 X 4′s and boards.
We even used the sawdust in the barns or in the chicken coops. Then in the Fall, Dad used to butcher cows and pigs so we’d have our meat for the whole year. He would then send the cow hides to be tanned and made into leather. Later on he would cut that leather and make harnesses and bridles and sew them by hand. He had made a little stand to make ropes out of twine. We used to help him twist that twine to make ropes to be used on the farm. Despite the hard work Dad had to do, in 1938, he had enough money to
buy a Chevrolet car and to make a trip to Quebec with Mom, Willy for a driver, Art and Rose. They had a very nice trip. While he was gone, they hired a woman to do the cooking and to take care of us on the farm. Ovila would be in charge of the crops and the farm. School was out then. When they came back that’s when Denise announced that she would be married to Florent Savard and Ovila announced that he was getting married to Annette Contoi. The weddings took place on January 5th and 12th, 1931. Then Charles got married in November of the same year. He married Flora Lajeunesse.
Louis Dore’s Family
Grandpa Michael Dore married Louise Mator in Quebec. Their children were Jean, Honore, Josephine, Louise, Pierre, Estelle, Michael, Louis, Arthur and Delphise who died (young). When Louise passed away, Dad (Louis) was only about 9 years old. Grandpa Michael remarried Denise Alain, so Dad was raised by the Alain family. He was never sent to school. When he was 14 or 16, he took a course in soldering and working with tin. I remember him making funnels for Mom and also fixing stove pipes. He even made a butter churn out of wood and tin. It is still at the Lafond residence and it was on display when we had a reunion in Saskatchewan (so was Mother’s spinning wheel for wool).
I had the pleasure to visit all of Honore’s family in 1969.
Philomene Goupil’s Family
Grandma Alma St. Jacques married at 16 years old to a widower who had six children. They had 3 more children, Philomene, Lisa and Francois. Then Grandpa Goupil passed away. Mother was only 10 years old so she had to go and work. She was getting about 25 cents a day to wash floors and gave it to her Mother as there was no welfare for the poor at that time. Then her Mother Alma married Mr. Petit Clerc and they had 3 more children, Charles, Alfred and Diana. The six first children were old enough to go and live with Dad’s and Mother’s relations. The only half sister to Mother that we got to know was Virginie. She married William Doucette and they lived in Spiritwood
Saskatchewan. They had a big family too. Their younger son lived in Spiritwood Sask. with his family. I had the pleasure to visit Aunt Diana in Ponge Rouge and also to go to her youngest daughter’s wedding in 1969. I met most of her children. In 2005 I wrote to Jeanine. (She came to visit us in Port with her 2 daughters one year, in 1981, after her husband died of a heart attack.)
It took Dad a few years to clear some of the property and to build a log house. Suddenly Mary decided that she was getting married to Archie Baker in 1921, June 11th. All I can remember is Dad going to get Bertha Delisle and Marie Boudreau to do some baking and helping Mother to cook. Mary was dressed in a beautiful white dress which cost only $35.00 in those days. No pictures were taken. It was a small wedding as the family had just moved to the farm. I guess we were kept upstairs at that time. The meal was served and Archie and Mary went back to Big River to live. Mother gave birth to Eva on June 14th, 1921. Then she had Arthur, who was born in Big River and they came to the house before leaving for Kapuskasing. The next time we saw Mary, Arthur was 5 and Alice was their baby. They came to visit on the farm. Then it took a few years before Alphonse got married. Alphonse & Ovila had gone to Kapuskasing Ontario to work for a couple of years and when they came back, Alphonse bought a farm 2 miles from Debden. He was an active guy and he used to do boxing and play pool. One day he met Lea Laitre and she was young and good looking. Then her Mother said to her,”Tell Alphonse he’d better marry you or he can’t go out with you.” Lea shed quite a few tears. They got married on June 16, 1927 and she was 15 in July. She was a good cook, she made beautiful bread and she was a great knitter. Alphonse always had nice white socks and mitts to wear. After Noella was born, they sold the farm and went back to Kapuskasing where Alphonse used to work at the Airport. Next they had twins add Alphonse was drinking. Lea had.qiite a time.
The Doctor that delivered her twins volunteered to buy milk for them. Mary and Archie were not very friendly with them. I remember Lea used to write to Mother, which made Mother cry. After Dad sold the farm to Charles, Dad, Mother and Arthur took a trip to Kapuskasing. They had decided to move to a better place where the winters were not so cold. At that time Willy, Jeanne, Denise & family, Emile, Marie
Louise and Cecile were all in Port Alberni. Alphonse and Lea decided to move to Port Alberni too. It was the Fall of 1945 when Lea arrived by train with all the 5 children and Alphonse came by plane a week later. They bought Joe Tremblay’s big house and Lea kept boarders. Alphonse quit his drinking and got work at A.P.D. as a carpenter’s helper. The oldest got work and they did very well and on June 6,1977 they celebrated their Golden Wedding. I made them a book of all the family history & pictures. Gilbert has it to this day. Alphonse had a trap line. He would sell the furs and hunt cougar. He was a man that liked the outdoors. Finally he built a little house on 4th South and retired and lived very happily with his children and grandchildren.
Then there were no weddings until Denise married Florent Savard. Ovila got himself a farm in Eldrid. He worked for the Contoi so he fell in love with Annette. Denise and Ovila’s weddings took place on Jan. 5th and January 12th,1931.
The big meal and dance took place at our house.
Then Charles was working for the Durets. He got married to Flora Lajeunesse and the same year, November 16Ch ,1931 so the dinner was at our house and supper at Omer Lajeunesse’s a few miles away. Charles had bought a homestead at Caputin Saskatchewan about 4 miles from Alex’s in Laventure. They used to work their farm with each others help and machinery.
Next was Jeanne. She had fallen in love with Albert when going to school. She wanted to get married but Dad said, “No, not until he has a job and can support you”. He was working for Mr. Henry Contoi at $10.00 a month. When he heard that there was work in Port Alberni he came and got a job with Mr. Mulcaster who owned a garage. Mr. Mulcaster liked Albert so much that he retired and sold him the garage at the bottom of Burde and 3rd St. in Port Alberni. As soon as Jeanne heard about it, Willie came to B.C. with Jeanne and she got married in Holy Family Church on 8th Ave. by Father Smith. The family of Poirier came to Port Alberni. Omer worked for Albert. Violet worked at the Hospital and Blanche fell in love with Lucien Primeau who she married. Poor Estelle took care of her old father and kept boarders. They did very well. The next one to marry was Marie Louise. She was working in Debden for the Godards and she fell in love with Raymond Cyr. I was visiting Debden. One day she told me to tell Dad & Mom she wanted to get married. She came home and started to fill her hope chest and was making herself new dresses. She got nice pink taffeta and Mrs. Carpenter made her wedding dress. We had the dinner at our farm and the supper at Cyrs as well as the dance. They both looked so young.The year after I left for B.C. but I had time to knit a sweater set for Ivan who was born in August.
I arrived in Port Alberni with Emile, Urbain, Mitchel and Claire Savard and Miss Leclere and with Leo Tremblay on Oct. 9, 1939. I worked in a Confectionary store next door to Albert and Jeanne’s residence. After a few years Emile went back and was called in the army. He married Florence Landry and was discharged for medical reasons so back to Port Alberni they came.
I got news that Eva was getting married to Oscar Beaulieu on Dec. 25 at the second Mass that was said after the one at midnight in 1940.
By that time I had met John at the C.Y.O. dance so we decided to get married in June. I even went to see Dad & Mom on the farm at the beginning of June. Denise and Florent were going to have a party for me. They had made home made beer. Albert & Jeanne had come too. They all went to the party to drink that beer and forgot to take me so I stayed at the lake with friends. John and I got married June 30th, 1941 at 9:00 in the morning. Emile paid us a breakfast at the Good Eats Café. We were only 21. Then we left for a honeymoon to Victoria at the Dominion Hotel. We visited his relations and his Mother in Extension B.C. on our way home. We lived in a house on 3rd Ave. for about a year then we rented on 6th Ave. before buying a home on the corner of 10th & Bute. When we sold our house on 10th & Bute we bought 8 lots between 10th Ave. & 11th Ave. and had our big house built there.
When the C.P.R. railroad was extended from Debden to North Battleford a station stop was called Pascal. There were only 2 stores, one was Bertha Delisle’s and the other Mr. Cyryl Gilberts. Next to it was a Native Reserve. There, a wheat elevator was built. It bought the wheat from the farmers and the farmers could ship their cattle to Prince Albert to be sold. After going to Marcelin Convent for 2 or 3 years, I quit studies and went to work for Bertha Delisle at her store for only $10.00 a month. Besides working in the store, I would do the cooking. Bertha taught me a lot and I also worked in the Post Office which was just a corner booth in the store. After a few years I went to work for Henry Delisle in Shell River. He had a General Store and next to it was the church and also a few families. There was also a Post Office. That is where I learned to talk Cree language. We were surrounded by 2 Reserves, the White Fish and the Shell Lake Reserve. It was a busy place. I used to appraise fur pelts of muskrat and weasel, as well as moccasins and gloves that the Indians sold for food. Then in the summer they used to pick wild Seneca root which was used for medicine. It had to be dried to get top price. Natives used to tan the skin of reindeer to make moccasins and gloves which they decorated with beads or with embroidery.
Every Sunday the church bells used to ring before mass started. In some parishes the Angelus at noon used to be announced by ringing church bells.
If someone died the priest used to ring the bells a toll for every birthday, also they rang again at his or her funeral. Where we lived it was pretty flat land so we used to hear those.bells. Whenever a baby was baptized, the church bells rang to announce it. In those days a baby was baptized the day it was born or the day after.
It was in July that there was a very bad thunderstorm and our church was hit and it burnt to the ground. Next they built a large Hall. To this day it is still used as a church but it has no. Resident Priest so the Priest from Debden comes to say Mass on Saturday evening. I was in Saskatchewan in 1997 when they celebrated an Anniversary. It was 75 years since a church was built in Shell River. Now they’ve changed the name to Victoire Sask.
My Father & Mother and Alex and our small sister are buried in the cemetery close to the church. It is walking distance from the church. At funerals,pall bearers used to lead the way carrying the casket followed by the Priest and Altar Boys. A tall cross was carried by a friend or relation of the deceased, then all the congregatiop followed.
Education or Schooling
Dad had left St.Basil Quebec to go and work in a mill in Maine USA as he needed more money. So Dad & Mother left their 4 children with Grandma Peticlerc.- Mary, William, Alphonse & Ovila. Mother’s sister Diana was only 13 years old and she herself told me that she never heard crying so much. It took about 2 years before they came back to get them. Then they went to school where it was all English. Willie & Alphonse would fight with the children at school. If someone asked them what is your name, they would punch them. At last they learned to get along. Charles, Alex, Rose, Denise & Jeanne were born in the States. Jeanne was never registered so when she got married I remember the Priest Morneau trying to get her a birth certificate made. When Dad got the homestead in Shell River Sask. there was no school. Rose, Denise & Jeanne were sent to Isle Lacrosse to the Grey Nuns Convent and stayed for 2 years before coming home. Rose went to live with the Lemires and Ovila stayed with the Catholic Priest. Mother used to rent a house in Big River where Alex and Emile went to school. A friend of Dads used to take care of the farm during the winter while Dad & Charles used to haul the frozen crates of Jack fish to sell in big River. . I heard Dad tell Mother that they used to make $500 every winter. It sure hélped. Willie & Alphonse went ice fishing every winter except when Dad had built the house ‘and the boys had to come home to work on the farm.
Here are the names of the teachers that I can remember in our school. Priscila Toupin, Mr. Robert Agnes Huot, Alma Huot and Obeline Huot then Ms.Lafranois, Mrs. Raymond, then Mr. Lafrancois. They had about 34 students and had to teach from Grade 1 to Grade 8. They were only paid about $25.00 a month and $10.00 for room & board. Teaching was in English. We had 1 hour of French. In those days the government in Sask. insisted on French Exams in June. Our marks would appear in the Patriote newspaper in July then we would stay after school hours and we’d be taught our Catechism for half an hour. Mother had the contract to wash the floor twice a year at $5.00 each time – she had to bring hot water from home in cream cans.
In the corner of the school was a furnace. I was paid $2.00 a month from Oct. to March to go and get it going to heat up the school. I had to pack all the wood in the entrance every day. The bathrooms did not exist, only 2 outhouses outside, one for the Girls and one for Boys. In the summer we played ball with no gloves. Those were happy days. At the end of June we always had a picnic with all the parents coming and bringing food. My Mother would make ice cream. We borrowed the ice cream maker for it. Boy, it was good! (Put salt on ice then turn the cylinder that held the cream, sugar & eggs & milk) After Grade 8, my parents sent me to the convent with the Sisters of Immaculate Conception. When I got to Grade 11 in Marcelin, there was no High School, even in Debden. When they had no money to keep me in school (it cost $15.00 a month) I had finished my Grade 13 in French but I had only finished Grade 11 in English. So I went to work in the store in Pascal owned by Bertha Delisle and also the Post Office — lots of C.O.D.’s in those days! From there I went to Henry Delisle’s store in Shell River, then Henry sold his store to Gerard Peltier who got married — he was a nephew of Father Morneau, and he helped to clean the church and rectory, as well as heating the church. The priest always hired a cook for housekeeping. When I worked for Henri Delisle I even learned the Cree language. The natives and Metis just loved me and I could understand what they wanted and could even count the change in Cree.
I used to appraise their muskrat and weasel pelts then I had to appraise their moccasins with beads and also children’s moccasins. It was the only way to get money for groceries. At that time, the Metis who were not living on the Jack Fish and Shell Lake Reserves were entitled to get about $8.00 to $10.00 a month welfare. I could not sell them tobacco snuff or extract. I had to make a report every month and send it to the Government (3 copies of it). I would buy their Senaca root and dry them on the porch around the store.
During our summer holidays the Catholic Priest taught us catechism for 2 weeks. We went in the morning and also brought a lunch, it would include all the districts around the church, Shell Lake, Pascal & Shell River. Once a year the Bishop used to come and confirm us. All the children used to sit in the front pews and parents in the back pews. The Bishop was talking about Jesus Christ so he asked Emile if he knew him. Emile said, “Yes” “Did he have whiskers?” Emile said. “Yes”
“Where did you see him or meet him?” Emile said “On the picture at home.” Mother had a big picture of the Sacred Heart hanging in the front room.
I will always remember the white dress Rose made for me for confirmation, out of white broadcloth, trimmed with lace. My Godfather, Henri Frenette gave me $2.00 after Mass. Mother stopped at the store and bought us a treat, popcorn in boxes treated with syrup. It sure was good! Henri always remembered me at my birthday. It was during threshing time so he always bought me $1.00 worth of candy, about 5lbs. I shared it with all the others. He also remembered me when I had an accident by falling down the stairs with a cup and paring knife and cut my face. It took a long time to heal. My Dad took care of me and used only zambuk as there was no Doctor around. The scar was big so when I grew up I used a lot of cream and Vaseline. Today I do not notice it. After I left Henri Delisle’s store, I worked for Gerard Peltier and Agnes until they got acquainted with the business for a month or 2. Then-) hired myself at the old man and lady Contoi for $10.00 a month. Even on Sunday they expected me to milk cows. I worked as hard as the hired man – helping to put hay in the barn loft, packing
12 buckets of water daily at noon in the heat to the calves. Instead of putting the calves corral close to the well it was put about 2 blocks from it. Then I had to go and pick all the yellow mustard when it bloomed before the crop ripened. Mr. & Mrs. Contoi had to raise their grandson because Henry’s wife died. He was about 10 years old. Grandma would ask him to get an armful of wood for the kitchen stove, he would say let Cecile get it-she is paid. I even heard the old lady telling the old Man that he sure told her that she was paid, only 35 cents a day!
Living In Eldred
Dad was cutting fire wood which he could ship to Prince Albert and get a few $. Mother got in labor so she sent Rose & Denise to get Dad, he would know what it was all about. Rose & Denise played in puddles and when they got to Dad even if Dad hurried home, Mother had given birth to Marie Louise by herself on April 18,1919. She had blue eyes and Mother always favored her. She was not too strong and cried a lot. I remember when Dad & Mother went to visit at the neighbors they took her along. In school she had a hard time learning the alphabet. One day the teacher gave her the strap because she could not distinguish D or B and Emile started to cry in school. If she did not get the biggest piece of cake when Rose gave us our sandwiches and cake, she would go out of the class and cried at lunch time. We all had the measles. She was sick for 3 months and had to have glasses to see if it would help her with schooling. When she got to be 17 she got a job in Debden for the store owner’s family. That is where she met Raymond and decided to get married. Even if she had work, Mom had to pay for all she bought for a trousseau and a wedding dress in pink silk. She had Mrs. Charpentier make it for her. Dad gave her a cow as a dowry. They lived in Debden. Ivan was born in 1939 and in 1940 they came to B.0 and Raymond got a job.
I remember when Eva was born, also when Dad got Marie Boudreau and Bertha Delisle to help cook for Mary’s wedding .On the wedding day we children had to stay upstairs as a big supper was served downstairs. Mom brought us food upstairs. Dad built that log house with the help of the neighbors. Years later he added a kitchen next to it. The house was 24 by 24 ft. with an upstairs. It was separated in 3 – 2 bedrooms for the girls and 1/2 for the boys. Later when Dad built a kitchen, Willie made his bedroom on top of the kitchen. When Dad bought 2 or 3 -100 pound bags of flour and white and brown sugar and also porridge, we stored it in the room-on top of the kitchen. It was used like a storage area for drying corn and blueberries. In 1946 when all the family was married Dad & Mom decided to sell the farm. Then they went to Kapuskasing Ontario with Art and then came to live in BC. Charles got the farm but he sold it and we went to live in Debden. They took care of her father who had arthritis until he died and then her Mother needed care. They joined the 2 houses together until Charles died. When Flora passed away the house was sold to Simonne , Alex’s late wife. She remarried Armand Chicoine but it did not last. As I am writing this book of memories, Simonne is still living in the house.
It was Mom & Dad’s Wedding Anniversary. We bought them a golden rosary in June 1948. Now Art announced he was getting married to Theresa Tremblay on the same date. Most of the children came but the sad part was Dad was admitted to the hospital. So with all the pictures taken, Dad was not included. Archie & Art drove. Mary had come before.
In 1946 Dad sold the farm and Dad, Mother & Art went to Kapuskasing to see Mary before settling in Port.
Art was the baby as the last one to be born only lived 2 hours. We called her little Marie. Dad used to spoil Art even when he was still sitting in his high chair between Mom & Dad. Every time Dad went to Prince Albert he would come home with a gallon of wine. When Dad had a drink, he would make sure Art had a taste too – not knowing what damage it would create. By the time Art was 16 he would buy lemon & vanilla extract to drink. It was only 25 cents a bottle. We did not know that he was an alcoholic until Terry divorced him. She was a good wife and never said a word about Art.
Art helped Dad build his house on the corner of Burde & 4th. Dad gave him the house when he left Port Alberni to go and live at Rose and Lucien Lafonds.
Eva stayed on the farm to help Mother and she worked on the farm most of her life. She did well in school and turned out to be a good dancer. She played the old gramophone and practiced dancing when she could not come to parties or weddings with us. She had beautiful auburn naturally curly hair. One day she met Oscar Beaulieu from our Parish in Shell River and got married on Christmas day at the second Mass at Midnight in 1940. She moved to Ormeaux Sask to farm. Eva was a beautiful dancer and Oscar could only dance a square dance. He did not mind if Eva danced with the other men at parties.
They had a large family of 9 children. Eva was a great cook. She knitted, crocheted and made quilts and did good sewing too. After years on the farm in Ormeaux they bought a house in Debden now she still lives in Debden but sold the house and rented a seniors home.
Living On The Farm
It took years before we got a gramophone. Mother bought it at a sale for $5.00. That was something. We were so pleased but when the radio came to be known, my Dad was against spending money on a radio. Dad’s birthday was in November. So we all decided to buy one for Dad as a birthday present. What joy it brought in this house. Dad was even interested in the news.
There was a small hill between the house and garage. Dad made us sleighs and the neighbors used to come.
What fun and what a party we had sliding in the moonlight! On Sundays everyone was welcome.
Every time Dad would go grocery shopping he always came home with 5 cents worth of candy.
Louis Dore and Philomene Goupil met at a Maple sugar cabin. At the end of the seasons those who collect maple water from trees celebrate having a good season of selling a lot of syrup & maple sugar candy & 11b. blocks. With the last syrup they like to make a toffee party with family & friends at the cabins by putting the taffy on snow and by drinking gin or vodka & tonics also white rum. I visited some of those cabins in Quebec. There were stainless steel tubs to boil that water and they cut the old trees for firewood. They spread maple syrup on pancakes. ham & even potatoes and beans. Louis & Philomene got married on the 12th of June, Dad was working for farmers and Mother lived there too. Mother was so shy because she did not work. She would not eat, so after super Dad & her would walk about 1 mile to visit her Mother. Her Mother would have a plate of food ready for her.
After the babies came, they had to get a house but Dad had to look for a more paying job. He heard about a mill in the USA in a place called Maine. They decided to leave their 4 children at Grandma Petitclercs and it took a year or more before they came back for Mary & Willie – Diana was only 13, she told me herself that she never saw children cry so much. She was the one who took care of those 4 children When Mary & Alphonse & Willie went to live in Maine, they were old enough to go to school. They did not know a word in English. If another child would ask their name, they got hit with their lunch bucket which was a 3 lbs little pail for lard. Every day Willie & Alphonse’s bucket was dented. Finally they learned English, because Charles, Alex, Rose, Denise & Jeanne were born in the USA. When we got there, at the homestead, Dad insisted that we be taught in English and we had only 1 hour in French in our school.
While at work in Maine, Dad heard that the Canadian Government was selling homestead property of $10.00 and you would be transported by train with all your belongings free of charge. The closest station to our farm was Eldred Sask. where the train stopped only 4 miles from Debden and the next station was Big River.The only people they knew were Johnny Frenette’s family and Dad & Mom knew them from St. Basil. They had a farm in Ormeaux so Dad & Mom came to the Frenettes about 4 or 5 miles away. Can you imagine a couple with 8 children arriving all at once! So the next day they had a house that was empty not far from there, so they came to Eldred to get all Dad’s belonging and one neighbor loaned them a cow so they would have milk for all of the children and so they would have eggs to make pancakes. That is where Emile was born in Ormeaux. Dad decided to move to Eldred. Willie & Alphonse could go to big River and started to work in the Mill at 16 & 14 years old. They could stay in the bunkhouse and when they got paid they gave Dad some money. Mary soon got a job for a Doctor’s family in big River too.
When Dad decided to move to Eldred as Ormeaux had nothing he could do, the biggest house was the Station so the fellow in charge said he would go to his friend and the family could live there. I was born there on the 10th of Septemberl 917 as the train was about to go by. Dad went in the waiting room and there was a Mrs. Morin (a Metis) so Dad asked her to come and she delivered me then washed her hands and had to hop on the train. Mother had to wash me. Then an old bachelor (Joe Coney) heard about my birth, he had to come and see me. He rolled a $2.00 bill and he put it in my little hand. He said it would bring me good luck. To this day-I think. it is true. I am so lucky to have atice family and being well cared for at 87 years old.
Our House on the Homestead
When the family arrived in Saskatchewan in 1915 we were able to move into our own house. Dad and neighbors cut trees on the farm and built a log house 24 by 24 ft. It had a basement dug in clay and trap door going in the house and also an upstairs where all the children slept except the youngest who slept in Mom & Dad’s room on the first floor in the northeast corner. We needed all the room. The upstairs was divided in 3 — 2 rooms for the girls and the other half was for the boys, divided by curtains. A few years later Dad built a kitchen about 16 feet by 20 with an upstairs room where they stored flour & sugar and Bill moved there, it was his bedroom during the summer. Later Dad built a pantry facing the east side. It was built and instead of windows, it had screen to keep the flies out. That is were we separated the cream from the milk. In the winter it was used as a deep freeze. We needed a cool place for our milk & cream so Dad and the boys dug a big hole in the ground and built a small cabin over it. In the spring Dad & boys used to go and cut blocks of ice in Devils Lake and used to fill the hole in the shed and covered it with sawdust so to keep our milk & cream from going sour. We shoveled out the sawdust with a hoe and placed the cans of milk & cream on ice. It was a lot of work! It was later used to keep our milk fresh overnight because every morning we used to take the milk to the cheese factory about 2 or 3 miles from home. We would make butter during the months of Sept. & Oct. and fill crocks of it for the winter. We used to milk only one cow during winter. We used to keep about 3 or 4 chickens in the coop. We raised more pigs and about 15 cows. Despite having 6 or 8 horses, we also had a big tractor as well as a threshing machine (not to forget the Ford car that Dad bought).
Willie loved to drive that Ford car! I guess Willie went out with most of our teachers, but his best friend was Bertha Delisle. He was not interested in marriage and he loved to be with Dad. Dad depended a lot on him!
In the winter the entrance to the basement was covered with snow every morning so nothing would freeze It also had a trap door and stairs into the house. The basement was divided in 3 parts 2 were for potatoes and Dad put nails into the beams so mother could hang her cabbages (about 100 or more of them). We would pull them with the roots and tie a twine around them and hang them up with all the leaves covering the cabbages. Carrots were stored in the basement too and the turnips kept good. Mother used to salt beans in a barrel for the winter. We would soak them in cold water overnight before cooking them. In the summer we would salt our pork in a wooden barrel.
In the beginning of December, Dad and the boys used to butcher a cow and about 3 or 4 pigs. Mother gathered the blood to make blood sausage. Then she would make beef patties and pork sausages and fill those cream and milk cans and freeze it then keep it in the pantry.
After the Harvest, in the Autumn, Dad used to buy 12 — 100 . lb. bags of flour and 100% white & brown sugar. We only drank coffee on Sunday morning, every day it was Salada tea. Every morning Mother would cook porridge and make pancakes. Mother would make us pick wild strawberries and raspberries, not counting the blueberries on the reserve. There were plenty of Saskatoon berries and wild cherries and currants and raspberries seemed to grow wild too. Mother used to can about 200 jars for the Winter and in the Fall we would pick cranberries. Mother used to freeze them in bags for winter. We would dig Seneca root like the natives did to sell to make a. little money. The gophers use to feed on grain soothe government use to pay 1 cent each for tails so, that was a pastime too, packing water to the field, to flush them out of their holes. The milking of cows morning and night.
Another berry that we picked was wild strawberries. It took a whole day to pick about 5 or 10 lbs in the field.
They would grow wild on the Reserves. Mother & us kids would go and pick a couple of buckets at a time. Mother would dry some to make pies in the winter. We also gathered Saskatoon berries by the river to make wine & jelly. We were Blessed By God to have all this fruit
After the crops were stored and wheat was sold Dad would come home with 1 barrel of apples. It cost only $2.00.
Every evening, Dad would cut the apples in half for us and it was a treat that we all enjoyed.
When Xmas came, Dad would buy 2 crates of Japanese oranges (only $.25) and 5 lbs of hard candy for $1.00. We were not rich but enjoyed it all.
We were blessed to have such a nice family and good health.
Mother used to say the rosary after supper during the months of May and October plus prayers to call on the Blessing for her family. It seemed to last a whole hour. We would all kneel on the hard floor and were glad when it was over!
Night also kept us busy. That cream separator was a job to wash
Mother would always plant a big garden & fields of potatoes. We would collect 400 bushels of potatoes and corn to last us all year. The corn was dried first and by rubbing two cobs together the corn would fall off. Mother used to soak it overnight and then when she cooked it, it would be like popcorn. We used to eat it with milk and sugar like breakfast cereal.
We raised our own turkeys, chickens and at times some geese. The neighbors used to exchange eggs. We also raised some sheep. We sheared them and washed the wool then Mother spun the wool. We would knit all the socks and mitts for everyone. By the time I was 10, I used to knit my own gloves. Also when Art was only 4 or 5 I did knit him a pair of gloves and I remember Mother showing them to her friends and they laughed.
In the Fall after we had the corn on the cob party. Mother would pick all the over ripe corn cobs and dry them on the floor above our kitchen.
In July all the wild raspberries were ready to pick. Dad would drive us to a field and Mother would tell us to pick – not eat! We would fill 5 gallon cream cans with berries and about 4:00 pm Dad would pick us up for supper. Mother used to can the berries by boiling them with sugar. She would make hundreds of jars of jam with it. It was used to make sandwiches to go to school. As we grew older, we could see that other children had peanut butter. I remember when we first bought some peanut butter in 4 lb. tins. When Dad got home we told Dad to taste it before anyone else’ as he did not know what it was. The LaJeunesse family had come from the USA and introduced it to us in school.
Our Stove (Kitchen)
Our stove was a big wood stove, on the end there was a tank to heat water for doing dishes and for whoever needed hot water to wash before meals. In our kitchen there was also a bucket with a long handle dipper to serve water for a drink. – that is where the mirror hung over a basin.
Our Kitchen consisted of a large oak table and bench against one wall and on the next wall across, was the big black iron stove then the cupboard was sort of a short bureau looking thing where the dishes were stored on the shelves and bowls & pots were in the bottom part. Next was a window and then nails where the men hung their jacket & hats it was behind the door going out. Next to the stove was a box of wood.
The remainder of this book will contain lots of other interesting pages that I will record and add as the memories come to me… (more factual stories, funny stories, and even some jokes!©)
How Did The Dore’s Get To BC
Jeanne and Willie were the first ones to come to BC. Jeanne got married to Albert Poirier on Oct. 5, 1936. They lived in Port Alberni for many years then moved to Maillardville, then back to Port, then Ucuelet. From there they went to Kelsey Bay and from Kelsey Bay to Campbell River. When Albert retired, they settled in Qualicum. Finally since Albert spent many years at Trillium Lodge, Jeanne moved to Parksville where she still resides. Willie came back to the farm.
Then in 1939 Emile & Cecile came to BC to find work. Emile worked at Franklin River and Cecile found herself a husband. She married John Herkel on June 31,1941 and had ten children and is still residing in Pod. Emile went back to the farm where he met Florence and then returned to Port Alberni BC before Charles was born in 1945.
In the Fall of 1940, who was the next one to arrive in BC? No one but Raymond Cyr who already had his Uncle Joe Cyr living in Port Alberni. Raymond got a job at Great
Central Lake and then he was transferred to APD. Six weeks later, Mary Louise arrived by train with Ivan came who was
1 year old and on Dec. 9,1940 Art was born. They used to live on Burde Street between 3rd & 4th They had 4 more children and they all reside here. Raymond worked at APD until his retirement and they raised their six children.. Now they enjoy the visits of their 13 grandchildren.
It was a blessing when I came to B.C. Emile and I arrived on October 9, 1939. Leo Tremblay drove his Uncle Mr. Grimard and family to take over the management of the Hotel in Debdon from his brother-in-law, Mr. Chalifour. He needed some paying passengers to come back to B.C. so Emile, myself, Claire Savard, Jeanette Leclerc and his cousin Urbain Mitchell from big River came too. We only paid $10 plus our food & Motel. It took us 10 days to get to Port Alberni. We would take in a show every night and get up in the morning, had breakfast about 10 o’clock and would eat again about 4 or 4:30 then we’d visit. It was great to see cities as we traveled part of the way in the U.S.A.. In those days by train it took 2 days only.
Emile got a job with a contractor in Franklin River. But after the 2nd half of the year he went back as he was drafted in the Army. Later on he met Florence so they got married in capusin Sask. then came to B.C. Charles was born the day I took Richard home from the Hospital. They lived in Parksville and surroundings near North West Bay where Emile worked until he died of cancer. They had 3 boys (Charles died in 1989) and 1, girl. Doris, Robert, and Richard live in BC today.
The Savards arrived in 1941. We were busy sending pictures of our babies to Mom & Dad and telling them how nice everything was, so in 1945 Dad sold the farm to Charles and Flora and took a trip with Art to Kapuskasing Ontario where they visited with Mary & Archie before coming to retire in BC . Art had been here before for 2 months. They arrived on Nov.12, 1945. They visited Alphonse & Mary’s families. and they lived with Willie on 4th & Burde. Dad had enough money to buy a house, so he bought a house on 4th & Burde from Mr. Lamotte. Unfortunately It was during the War and you could not give a notice to the tenants until the summer. So dad went and lived with Willie for awhile and since he had a double lot with the house he bought, he decided to build a house facing Burde St. & 4th Ave. In 1946 Art had gone looking for work at the Mill. Since he was working for M & B he could get all the lumber at a discount rate and helped Dad build the house. That is why Dad left him the house when he went back to live with Rose. That is where he passed away, in Leoville.
By now, Marie Louise & Raymond were living on the corner of 8th Ave. & Burde, Cecile & John were living on 10th Ave. Willie was across from Mom & Dad on Bute & 10th and Mom & Dad were on Burde Street. Lordy, Lordy at 48, Willie announced he was getting married to Adrienne on Dec. 27, 1945
Next was Alphonse’s family who arrived on the train from Kapuskasing Ontario. Lea and 6 children came first, then Alphonse came a few weeks later. They settled very well in Port. They bought a rooming house on 3rd South and Lea enjoyed cooking for the for the boarders and her family.
By this time, Willie was back and working at A.P.D. and in 1946 the big wedding took place on Dec. 27,1946. to Adrianne. Their family are all married and still live in BC. We had a lot of visitors during those years
Marcel Dore, Paul Lafond, Leon Dore, Luke Dore, Norman Beaulieu, Andre Beaulieu and Conrad & Claire .
Claire Beaulieu arrived in Port and then she went to Comox where she got married and raised 2 children. She is still in Courtenay. Conrad married a girl in Port and are still living here.
By the Spring of 46, Dad decided to build a house on the adjacent lot to their house. He had bought it but it faced Burde St. Since Art was working for McMillan & Bloedel he got a discount on all the lumber and I guess he paid for part of it from his wages. In no time a house was build for Mom & Dad. That is why that house was given to Art when Dad left BC and went and stayed at Rose & Lucien’s until he died June 19, 1956. Then Mother came back to BC to live with Marie Louise, I also took Mother for 4 months. Mother was sent to a Doctor in Victoria but after a few weeks Marie Louise brought her back to Port . It was a very hot summer. She was advised to drink water but the nuns would not take her to the bathroom to pee. After a week in that old seniors home where she had been sleeping with same clothes on night & day (she was even put to bed in a dress) Marie Louise took her back to Port Alberni and she was put in a private home for Seniors. In a week or two Mother had lost 30Ibs. She was so hungry we would bring her bananas and she would eat them all,one after another
The last ones to come to B.C. were Eva and Oscar. They bought a boarding house in Campbell River for a year and a half before returning to the farm. They finally retired in Debden.
After working on the farm for 15 years, in 1930 Dad bought a Maroon Chevrolet and took a trip to Quebec to visit their family. Dad, Willie, Mother, Rose & Art (who was 6 years old) went on this trip. The hired a woman to cook and take care of us and Ovila took care of the farm. After Mother died, in her papers, I noticed a picture of her sister Diana & husband. So I took it and wrote to her. After two months I got an answer inviting me to go and see her so I went in 1969 with Denise. To this day I correspond with my cousin Jeanine. While I was visiting I had the pleasure of meeting lots of relations from Mother & Dad’s families. At this time I also went on a visit to Montreal with Denise. I also later went with John when he retired in 1976. Aunt Diana was still living and I even went to Jeanine’s wedding in Pont Rouge. I also visited Uncle Art Dore’s children in Chicoutimi with John. One of Mother’s half-sisters got married to William Doucette and they settled in Spiritwood Sask. They had a big family and we got to know them well. On my 1969 visit to Quebec I had the pleasure to meet most of Honore’s family. I am keeping in touch today 2005 with Roland Dore’s wife and also Trancrede Dore of Chicoutimi. He is a son of Arthur Dore, the youngest brother of my Dad. Only Gaston, Tancrede & Lucienne are living ridw in 2005.
I also met Alice Vachon, daughter of Aunt Louise, Bertha Vallee daughter of Aunt Josephine, and also all of Honore’s children and Uncle Jean’s wife and some of his children.
I had a great time, especially when we visited Elizabeth She has us for dinner and we had 4 different kinds dessert after our meal. She used to make woven rugs and blankets as well as dish towels and she even gave me one. I also came home with 3 blankets that were woven. (white pink & blue). We visited Marian Rousseau and also some cousins in Pont Rouge.
Visiting Quebec – More Stories
After receiving a letter from Aunt Diana I decided to go and meet as many relations as I could. Dad had told us many stories about his brother Honore. He did some logging in Vancouver when a great fire destroyed it all in 1886. Honore and his friend had to jump in the ocean so they wouldn’t be burnt. After the fire he and his friend had heard about gold mines in Ontario. They hopped the train and away he and his friend went. He bought himself a claim and struck it rich. I remember Dad telling us how much gold he carried home in a pouch. He gave Dad a nugget to make a wedding ring for Mom when he was getting married. Honore had a big family. I met most of them and he had all if his children attend university in Montreal. He invested his money in a Hotel. and a 3 storey house made in bricks. I visited his 3 daughters who share living there and I was in that house. It had velvet drapes, burgundy in colour, and the lights hanging from the ceiling with big glass lamp shades covered with big flowers In the front rooms one wall was covered with the wedding pictures of his children. In 1930 my Dad, Mother Willie, Rose and Art went to Quebec Jeanne and Georgette never got married but Jeanne had a friend They also had a summer house on Isle of Orlean. I went there for supper. Gin & tonic was our drink. Honore’s daughter Irene made us visit the old house up to the 4,h At one time Honore owned a whole street, bakery & store & shops. When Dad & Mom went in 1930 Honore’s wife was still living and she invited them to stay at no cost in the hotel. His son Jean died in 2004 at 98 years old. He was a teacher who taught in University. Roland & his wife Germaine came to BC at Expo in Vancouver. Honore’s wife was still living. She had them sleep at their Hotel. When I was there Rose Aimee, Yvette & her husband & George were still living there. I hear that they sold it after Rose Aimee died.
I met Noel his wife and also Laurence who was a lawyer or accountant. They could speak English. Jeanne and her Mother had an audience with the Pope on a trip to Italy. I also met Alice Vachon who was the daughter of Louise as well as Bertha Vallee who was the daughter of Aunt Josephine. I also met Dad’s brother Jean and we went to Chicoutimi and met all the children of Uncle Arthur Dore. He owned a lot of property so when his children, boys or girls, would get married he gave them a lot. They all lived on the same street I still correspond with Tancrede and Germaine in St. Joy, wife of Roland Dore, son of Honore.:) also visited Auntie Diana, Dennis and her children (Mother’s sister) I went to Jeanine’s wedding and I still phone her once in a while. She lived in Three Rivers on a farm. The last letter I got from Tancrede only 2 brothers are still living in 2005. Aunt Diana had 23 pregnancies and only 13 children lived Finally after Irene’s husband died she decided, with Geoi:gette, to sell the house and rent.
Unfortunately Georgette passed away and so did Jean & Noel’s wife in 2004. Now the living members are in Care Homes. Today it is 2005 and I still correspond in French with cousin Germaine Dore, daughter-in-law of Honore, wife of Roland and Jeanine Pruneau, daughter of Aunt Diana, Mother’s sister.
I have nice memories of my visit to Quebec. I went 3 times in all (with Denise John & Eva).
Lea, Alphonse’s wife, would knit him socks and mitts and she would wash them using pearl soap big bars. One day Alphonse was visiting with Charles and Flora asked Alphonse how did Lea get his mitts & socks so white. He did not know so he said, “She bleaches them with lye.”
So Flora took all her wool in skeins and put then in lye. She ruined them all – was she ever mad!
Lea was a great cook – boy she could bake the nicest bread you ever saw. Alphonse was always proud of her. When they celebrated their Golden Wedding, Willie asked Lea. how are all things. She said when I got married I couldn’t get my socks off now I can knit a pair Ha, Ha
Before every Xmas Dad & Willie would make moonshine for the holiday. They would create a fire away from the house to boil it. Alex was the one to keep the fire going. Now and then Jeanne would go and carry it home. Alex used to ask her to taste it. I remember Jeanne-collapsing before supper. She had too much moonshine!
I remember when Mary came visiting from Ontario. Arthur was on 5 or 6 and Alex used to make him ride the calves. Mary sure was mad when he got all dirty! Mary was my Godmother. She gave me a pair of gloves for Xmas. When I would go to Gilberts, Annette would ask to wear my gloves and I had to wear her old mitts. Mary also game me a little gold bracelet I wonder where it is to this day. I used to keep it on Mom’s statue of St. Ann that she was given by the priest. Mother had gone to Church on Dec. 25th and thought she would go and pay their dues. The priest was tired from hearing ponfession and decided to rest for 1 hr. before midnight mass. In those days a second mass was said that night so he got macf=at mother for disturbing his rest and ‘ bawled her out. 3 days later, when Dad appeared to have Arthur baptized, the priest gave Dad the statue as he excused himself for getting upset with her for disturbing his rest. Mother always loved her statue and Dad made it a little shrine on a box that hung on the wall. But when Dad & Mother could not live alone, Rose who took care of them kept the statue and my bracelet was never seen again. Mother always said that Arthur was the one to get that statue after she died but Art & Terry were separated then. Art got Dad’s house while the house Dad had bought was sold to Albert & Jeanne. When they came back from Maillardville they had lost everything due to bad investments and Jeanne had many operations for cancer of the intestine but she lived to be 87 years old.
Living In Eldred
Dad was cutting fire wood which he could ship to Prince Albert and get a few $. Mother got in labor so she sent Rose & Denise to get Dad, he would know what it was all about. Rose & Denise played in puddles and when they got to Dad even if Dad hurried home, Mother had given birth to Marie Louise by herself on April 18,1919. She had blue eyes and Mother always favored her. She was not too strong and cried a lot. I remember when Dad & Mother went to visit at the neighbors they took her along. In school she had a hard time learning the alphabet. One day the teacher gave her the strap because she could not distinguish D or B and Emile started to cry in school. If she did not get the biggest piece of cake when Rose gave us our sandwiches and cake, she would go out of the class and cried at lunch time. We all had the measles. She was sick for 3 months and had to have glasses to see if it would help her with schooling. When she got to be 17 she got a job in Debden for the store owner’s family. That is where she met Raymond and decided to get married. Even if she had work, Mom had to pay for all she bought for a trousseau and a wedding dress in pink silk. She had Mrs.Charpentier make it for her. Dad gave her a cow as a dowry. They lived in Debden. Ivan was born in 1939 and in 1940 they came to B.0 and Raymond got a job.40
Jokes & Stories
Alphonse & Lea celebrated their 50th Anniversary so Willie, who was present at the wedding as best man, asked Lea how it was. She answered, ” When I got married I did not have the time to remove my socks now 50 years later I could knit a pair!”.
At Rose & Lucien’s wedding Alex & Bernadette Gilbert were their Best Man & Bridesmaid. The night of the wedding Alex & Bernadette went to sleep at Lucien’s house
At Marie Louise wedding the couple slept in Mom & Dad’s bedroom since there was no hotel close by.
Eva & Oscar had the farm house upstairs as no one but Mother & Dad lived on the farm.
– Willie loved to drive the car so much! When October came, the car would not start in the cold so Dad was ready to go in a sleigh to church. Willie insisted upon driving so he would get our old horse Danny to pull the car between the house and barn, with Alex riding the horse. First thing, the horse would slip on the ice and Alex would break a leg! It happened more than once on a Sunday morning.
A Soft Heart
Poor old Charles! He did not like blood, so every time in the spring when cutting firewood, he was clumsy and would cut his foot with the axe. I remember Dad rushing home with Charles who had fainted on his sleigh. Then Dad patched him up. Poor Charles, he had a soft heart. When Flora was in labor, Mother was Midwife and went to deliver the baby. Charles used to go to the barn in tears as he could not see Flora suffer.
Emile had pneumonia when he was about 16. The nurse stayed 2 days at the house, making mustard plaster with Mom. So he got better but lost all his hair, then they grew nice & curly. His hair was black and as tough as a horse’s mane when they used to cut it.
Ovila wanted to be a barber, so he did his practice on me. He sure cut my hair short! I remember how mad Mother was when he cut all my nice curly hair. But I was glad not to have it tangled and pulled when Mother combed it.
I can’t recall Deniege working out. She was a good worker and I remember her milking the cows with all of us, at 5 years. I was milking my cow morning and night. She was good in school but I also remember her complaining of migraine headaches. In 1930 when Dad and Mother went for a holiday with Rose, Willie and also their baby Art, who was about 6 years old, they drove to Quebec to visit their next of kin.
Deniege was at home and she met Florent Savard who she knew from our church. When Dad & Mom came back she announced that she wanted to get married.
When she got married, Dad & Mr.Savard stood as witness, no best Man & Maid of Honor.
They lived on a farm not far from the church but also lived with and took care of Florent’s parents. Grandma used to sit next to the little heater and she loved smoking cigars, also a pipe. Grandpa Savard did not smoke but when they gave birth to Aurore, called Mary today, Grandpa had a lot of pleasure spoiling her. It she asked for a glass of water, Grandpa had to get it, even if he had a hard time walking. Mary would not drink it if someone else gave her water.
She was about 3 years old and had her bottle of milk with a nipple. Grandpa carried it in his pocket when they went to church. At church every family had to pay for a pew, of so many seats. So during Mass, Mary would decide to go to Grandpa Savard’s pew and get her bottle of milk with her nipple so she could have a drink.
I went to work at Deniege’s house when Aurore was a baby. One night I counted up to 23 safety pins by the time I changed her. First a baby had a quilted band to protect their navel and then a diaper, next was a small blanket to keep their legs straight and pieces of flannel or wool to keep their feet warm. A baby was wrapped like that for 6 weeks or more.
It took all day to wash. On Monday, first was the baby clothes, then the sheets and towels, and next everyday clothes. We had a hand machine that we turned a wheel to shake the clothes. You had to have aJot of money to buy a motor one and we had no electricity.
After Grandma died Grandpa was placed in a Care Home then Denise & Florent with 5 children moved to BC. They lived in Pod and also in Vancouver. Florent worked as a carpenter.
Mother’s Eye Operation
One day when Mother and Dad had gone shopping, and they were on a gravel road, a small thing flew in Mother’s eye. After a few days the pain was getting worse so Dad was going to Debden and he went to the Doctor and mentioned Mother’s sore eye. The Doctor gave Dad a bottle of medicine for Mother’s sore eye. I remember Dad coming home and Mother was trying to iron clothes – the pain was so bad that she sat on the bench behind the table and held her forehead, in tears. Dad poured some of the Doctor’s medicine from the bottle into her eye. The doctor used to drink so he forgot to tell Dad to put the medicine in water before washing the eye with it. The medicine straight from that bottle burnt her eye badly. At that time the hospital was only in Prince Albert. Willie went to see Bronco Jack who was a bachelor, he had a Ford car. That night it started snow and Willie and Bronco and Dad put Mother in the car with blankets and drove 80 miles to Prince Albert. She was operated on and they removed her eye (even if she was 7 months pregnant with Arthur). We always said that the chloroform affected the baby. When Arthur grew up and went to dances, after he had a drink or two he looked like he was asleep while dancing. Mother got a glass eye. It only cost $5.00 and it was very delicate. When Mother was close to the stove she had to be careful as it would crack easily. The glass eye had to be washed every day – what a job that was when I took care of her for 2 months. She thought that Vincent was laughing at her because he was smiling all the time.
Since there was no Doctor close by, everyone depended on a midwife to assist in the delivery of a baby. When Mother had her babies Dad used to get the neighbor women but Mother was called a lot to help deliver other women’s babies. One day I mentioned to Mother why didn’t she keep a little book recording all those deliveries. Then she mentioned that she had never delivered twins in all those years. Not long after, she was called to Isadore Orieux’s, his wife was having twins. They were very poor but had one baby after another. Mrs Gilbert was there too so she had to go home and get sheets. Lovely twin boys were born but one died later and was buried at the same time as Grandma Orieux who used to live with Isidore’s family. Grandpa Orieux used to plant big gardens. Flora had twins later also but only Luc lived. Mother had to go there and the public health nurse from Orneaux was also at the scene The nurse took Luc to her house and Flora had to go the hospital in Prince Albert. Mother had to borrow some money from the owner of the store to make the trip to the hospital. They had to take Flora on a single cot and she & Mother were placed in the baggage car to travel to Prince Albert. Charles and Dad had to bury the baby and dig the grave. Dad made a small coffin and I am the one who lined it in white and covered it – I used a white sheet that Mother that had in the trunk.
When Xmas came Dad had come home for the holidays. He was hauling fish to Big River to sell so he had some money. Mother decided to go and pay their dues at the church. The priest was smoking his pipe after hearing confession for 2 hours. He needed to rest before Midnight Mass so he bawled Mother out for disturbing him. On the 28th of December Dad, Alex and Bernadette Gilbert arrived to go and have Arthur baptized. The priest felt sorry for being rude to Mother on Xmas night so he gave Dad a statue of St. Ann for Mom – it was about 20 inches high or more. Mother always said that it belonged to Arthur when she died but Rose is the one that got it when Dad & Mother moved there before Dad died. Dad had made it a nice little shrine and it hung in the front room corner. It was the greatest gift Mother had ever had. I also remember Dad and Mother going to the church hall Sunday night to play whist. One time Mother and Bernadette Gilbert had the highest score so they had to cut the cards. Mother got an ace so she won 1St prize which was a nice satin white blouse. It was so precious that Mother kept it in the trunk. instead of wearing it. I do not know what happened to it to this day.
Here is something funny. When Mother got married the style was button boots with high heels. We sure liked to wear those boots! We even fought over those lovely brown boots. One day Emile & I went in the tool shed and cut the high heels off. That was the end of fighting for the boots as well as playing with the boots
Christmas on the farm was great. Midnight Mass was not to be missed – it was special. I still can remember how Grandpa Efram Beaulac used to start singing at midnight. He sang “It Is Midnight Christians Get On Your Knees”. Then the priest would come out in a procession with the altar boys carrying baby Jesus to his manger which the priest’s nephew, Girard Peltier, had arranged with fir trees. It was beautiful Sometimes they even had a guy playing the violin and the organ was played by a Miss Duret. On the way home we used to sing hymns and so did other families as we crossed the frozen Devil’s Lake. Then Mother always prepared a ragout made of pigs feet and brown gravy. We had to eat before we went to bed in those days as there was a lot of fasting before holidays. We were not rich but we enjoyed life a lot. Christmas was the first holiday -lots of visiting and playing cards until New Year. Then the shaking of hands and kissing would last until Jan. 6th., as well as more visiting and card playing. Young people would play games and sing in the front room. Dancing was forbidden we only danced at weddings. Life was beautiful and we loved every bit of it.
PS How I used to hate being kissed by the old guys with beards & whiskers!
Although life was good it had its troubles too. During threshing Dad had sent Alphonse in the Ford car home to get something. In the early morning he had to go back and when he had to put gas in the car somehow he set fire to the car & garage. By the end of the day Dad and Willie had bought another Ford. Also when they were threshing someone stole the big belt that joined the tractor to the separator. Willie managed to borrow one for that day but it cost $200 to buy a new one. The missing belt was never found.
Emile had pleurisy and the public health nurse stayed at our house for 2 or 3 days and made a lot of mustard plasters. Then Alex broke his leg and Charles used to cut his foot when chopping our fuel wood. When I fell down the stairs while I was carrying a cup and paring knife I cut my face. Dad was the one that nursed me as Mother would faint at the sight of blood.
Often, on a Saturday night, the young people would go to Debden. Dad would give them about $2 each. One time, since that day had been very hot, Willie made a bet to see who could eat the most ice cream cones. He ate about 21 cones at 5 cents each! On the way home Willie became very sick and was paralyzed, almost as if he’d had a stroke. Thank goodness Ovila was with him as he had to drive Willie home. We later found out that Willie had rheumatic fever. He was so sick that he couldn’t even stand up — Willie was very sick for a long time.