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The hours were long at Patmore's during the spring and I rode to and from work on my 10-speed bike. By the fall of the year we had saved enough money to buy a car from my brother, Dave, and we moved out of the city to a small house in Forrest. I worked all winter in the green houses at Patmore's. By the spring of 1974 Amy and I were getting itchy feet and moved back to Basswood. My Dad was the Regional Director of Manitoba for the National Farmers Union. He spent a lot of time away from the farm so Randy and I looked after the farm for him during the summer and fall of 1974.
During the fall of 1974 we received an offer to become involved in a Co-operative Community at Birtle, MB. The Co-operative was set up in the old Indian Residential School. I would be the horticultural specialist for the community and we would be paid by the Company of Young Canadians as volunteers. We moved to Birtle in January of 1975. The Co-operative was short lived and, by spring, almost all of the members recognized that the community was not for them.
I was rehired at Patmore's as the Nursery Foreman and Amy worked seasonally in the greenhouse. We lived in a house a mile north of the Brandon Airport for the next three years. During this time our second son, Michael Randall, was born on December 2, 1976. The house north of Brandon had a big yard and was the scene of many family gatherings and much gardening and mowing of grass.
In the late fall of 1977 I applied for a job as
urseryman at Riding Mountain National Park. I was offered a job and began work at the Park on January 3, 1978. Once again the family was on the move, this time to Erickson. In the spring of 1978, Amy and I started to build a house in Onanole. It was a family affair, with every able bodied member from each side of the family pitch ing in to help at one time or another. My Dad was the constmction consultant with both David and Randy contributing their new bricklaying and electrical skills respectively. By Febmary of 1979, the family moved in and spent the next ten years in Onanole.
During these years another son, Jonathon Richard, was born on December 4, 1982. Donald and Michael started school and Amy and I became involved in the community.
We were both active on the broom ball team and I became active with the new Onanole Fire Dept. and was eventually the Chief. During these years 1 became the head gardener in the Park and also the local union president.
In 1987, I was still working seasonally in the Park and the economy was in a steady decline. The decision was made to sell our house in Onanole and reinvest the money in more affordable property.
The family moved to a small house outside Erickson at NW 2-18-18. Donald started grade nine and Michael started grade five in Erickson. We stayed for 1 year and
then moved into the farm house on Fred and Eleanor Brown's farm by Basswood. We stayed for two years at Basswood and enjoyed being close to our old home communities but also missed the forest and the lakes and streams of the Park.
In the spring of 1990, we took possession on a 114 section of land on the Rolling River Valley known as the old McDermott Ranch, SE 20-18-17W. As we began researching the history of the ranch we were stmck by the strong connections between the property and the people who lived here and the Proven family and the farm at Basswood. The ranch and sawmill had first been built by a man named Frank Engman. Engman married a woman by the name of Maria Getty. By all accounts he married her for her money and was a very abusive man whom expected Maria to do all of the domestic work, which meant constantly serving the sawmill gangs. In 1907, she became very ill. According to a history done in April of 1980 by R. O. Crawley;
"She was rescued from her plight by an old friend, Mrs. Jim Proven, (Edith Wake) who took her into her home and tried to nurse her back to health. It was too late, Maria's sturdy Irish spirit had left her, and she had little desire to live. She died March 7, 1907, and was buried in All Saint's Cemetery, north of Clanwilliam." Her tombstone can be found in the Proven family plot with the inscription, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."
Another connection was found in this history that regards the bam. The foundation for the bam is still on the property. According to the history, it was built "sometime during the 1890's" and the style of constmction and dimen sions are almost identical to the bam at Basswood, which was built in 1899-1900. Large stone walls and the Ontario style, post and beam constmction, would lead us to believe that the same carpenters and masons would have built both barns, one after the other.
Since there were no buildings on the 112, we began in a house trailer, and since have constmcted a shop/garage/greenhouse from two salvaged barns. In the fall of 1993 we moved the Len and V ema Averill house onto the property. The house was built in 1919 and required complete renovation. Even though we insulated, rewired, replumbed and renovated the floors, the original charac ter of the house will remain intact.
During the time we have spent here at 20-18-17, our family has grown up. Donald has graduated from high school and spent several years working before entering the University of Manitoba in the fall of 1994 and then the University of Saskatoon. In the fall of 1999 Donald and his partner, Roselle Myko, moved to Winnipeg. Donald is working with his Uncle Randy, building R2000 homes, and Roselle is taking her Masters at the University of Manitoba's Natural Resource Institute. Michael has worked the last 3 years, spending summers working at the Clear