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Page Index of Forest to Field Volume One
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white of her marriage gown untouched with color save where a cluster of wild rosebuds nestled at her bosom. How can I tell how the simple beauty of her love and faith shone through the blue softness of her eyes as in accents that hesitated now and again at the words of the unknown tongue she made her simple vows of wifely obedience and honor.
Chairs were in readiness for the newly wedded couple at the close of the marriage while the Herr Prest spoke to the people. It was not such a sermon as could be preached in an English town or village, but it was the natural outcome of the simple old world Norsefolk that were before him - love, home and the goodness of God - such were its themes.
The last words of the benediction were followed by a solemn hush and then the congregation filed slowly and orderly out of the church, forming as they did so a long avenue through which the bridal party passed to the church yard gates. Here too I made my way and found that the marriage was to be followed by a feast of the most lavish and extensive character, in which I was to be an honored guest. During the service Vixen had been decked with a bunch of wedding favors in her bridle, and very gay she looked as with a Danish boy by my side to act as guide we started off at the head of a long procession of ox wagons to the chosen spot.
It was a place not only beautiful in itself but it was possessed of that particular beauty that spoke to the hearts of these good North folk of their homeland. It was the beauty of long and stately avenues of spruce and pine, where green and golden moss sunk beneath your footfall with the still softness of an Eastern carpet. Above, through the long spreading plumes of the trees, was the radiant blue of our Manitoba sky - a sky reflected in softened and rippling tones in the waters of the lake as it lay before us in wide openings of the forest trees.
Rows of tables, roughly formed yet covered with spotless linen, had been ranged beneath the trees. These were soon covered with a bountiful yet simple repast, for every family in the Colony brought of its best and great is the emulation of the house wives in the whiteness of their bread, the sweetness of their butter, and the richness of their cakes.
The restraint of the church service and of the presence of the 'Herr Prest" yielded to the social influences of the occasion and soon the woods were ringing with mirth and laughter. The dinner done, as I sat beneath a mighty spruce, enjoying alike the soothing influence of my pipe and the happy simplicity of the scene before me, I was joined by the "King of Sweden" and learned the character of the little 'yob' of which he had spoken. This was none other than to christen the last addition to that 'royal' family and certain other infants whose parents were anxious to avail themselves of my presence in the Colony. He led me through the woods and by the lake shore some half mile's walk to his home, and there we found a whole posse of babies awaiting us.
Ever hospitable, the baptismal service over, it was imperative that the 'Herr Prest' should take cake and coffee, during which a boy was sent to bring Vixen and the buckboard to the house as it was now five o'clock and I was anxious to be on my homeward way and to reach
the familiar trail of the English settlement before darkness fell. With many thanks and assurances that he would come to town the next Monday and settle with the 'Herr Prest' for the marriage fee and, as he expressed it, "the whole yob", the 'King' gave me the lines and bid me goodbye.
Taking a byroad to avoid further adieus and libations of coffee I was soon on my way southward, the heat of the day was past and Vixen and I jogged quietly along. For a time sounds of laughter and faint strains of music reached me through the woods; the feasting was being followed by the dance, and I knew that the morrow's sun would rise before these hardworking yet pleasure loving North folk would consider that they had done adequate honor to the occasion.
The shades of night were gathering in the woods, the silence and solitude touched my spirits, and thoughts of my own homeland and those still there gave occupation half sadness and half weariness till Vixen and I were again in the valley and saw before us, dotted here and there, the lights of home and rest.
Editor's Note: Through research at the All Saints Anglican Church, Clanwilliam by Leona Gustafson and Thora Lofgren, a wedding was performed at the Lutheran Church, Scandinavia on July 16, 1897.
The bride and groom were Amanda Thoren and Eric Erickson, and on the same date, five babies were baptized by Canon E. Warton Gill, but not in a church. The children were: Annie Hemmingson, Herman and Eline Sundstrom, William and Frederic Hodgson.
by Frank Hi/lstrand
When we visited with Frank Hillstrand he invited us into the office of his country store and post office - there we sat behind the pigeon-hole mail boxes as he and his brother Charlie Hill, took us back to those early years. (refer to Hillstrand).
It had been a very rough crossing and the family arrived in Winnipeg on May 1, 1887. The immigration shed in Winnipeg had two rooms, the large room con tained a stove and everyone slept on the floor. In the other room there was a well and pump in the centre. Around the walls were wooden troughs used for washing persons and clothes. Worst of all Mr. Hillstrand remembers the baby wash. There were drain pipes leading from these wooden troughs and he feared there was seepage into the well as he says he could hear a gurgling sound. Prying loose a board and looking down into the well, could see water trickling down. He wondered how they avoided contracting disease.
After making arrangements for further travel, Mr.
Hillstrand was left to catch a ride out to Minnedosa. He managed to ride rail in a boxcar, having only .50<1: in his pocket. A watchman saw him and ordered him out but