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Page Index of Forest to Field Volume One
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kids would go out and shovel snow for hours to be able to free the road for his return. Sometimes they had to get permission from the farmers to go through the fields to get the wood to town or cut a road through the bush.
In 1933, things were worse. You couldn't sell cattle or pigs as no one could afford them and the horses kept dying. We lost about eight horses. Things were really bad. Mr. Hans Hemmingson bought a threshing machine and dad put a team on the water tanks as it was run by a steam engine. It was the only threshing machine in the district. It took two months before he would finish threshing. Sometimes there was snow on the ground when they were finished. The smaller farms would stack all their grain so they were left until last. After harvest, dad would take a wagonbox full of wheat to Sandy Lake and make flour, about fourteen bags. The flour mill at Sandy Lake was a great help to the area. Food was a problem often but overcome in various ways. In the spring we'd go fishing and catch two bags of fish. Mother would put them in gallon crocks and bake them for three hours in the oven. After that you could eat the fish bones and all. In the fall dad would butcher a pig and mother would fry it all until the meat was done and again it was sealed in crocks with lard and it would keep for quite awhile. Four hundred quarts of fruit was done up in the fall. Sometimes dad would even take butter and eggs to Erickson to sell. If it couldn't be sold, the pigs enjoyed the leftovers.
Back to the school days, I also recall that Violet Benson had a sad misfortune. She burnt her hand and missed a couple of months of school. I recall on my way to school stopping to visit Rose Soltys, daughter of Mark Soltys and Marie Kopeechuk. One day when Rose was about four years old a few cows got into the garden. Rose came running into the house and said to her mother the cows eat all the Borsch! She couldn't say beets.
In 1936, in the spring I had to quit school. Dad wanted to break more land so we had to clear the trees. It was hard work and very hot. As there was a poor crop that year, dad got permission to cut hay with a scythe in the park. The ranger, Joe Robinson, was in charge at that time. The area he cut was just south of Hans Hem mingson's homestead. Dad was there for two weeks. He slept on the haystack. He cut about eight loads. We couldn't haul it home though until the swamps froze and even then we still didn't have enough feed so he decided to sell six head of cattle. All he got was $25.00. So awhile later he sold a bull for $25.00. He was a purebred. By spring, our feed was almost gone but we had managed to pull through. A family by the name of Woodcock lived west of us, they had come from down south. By spring, most of his cattle and horses had starved. No one could offer much help as everyone was so short on hay themselves.
Entertainment was great in those days. Box socials and dances were held in most of the people's homes for there was no hall then. We had dances often in our home. There were two bedrooms downstairs and three upstairs. So dad, the boys, Mark and Tom Soltys would come over and together they'd take a wall down so that gave us one large room. The music was supplied by Herbie Ostrom from Erickson. He sure could play an accordion. People
came from Erickson and from around Hilltop with sleighs and horses. The dance usually went on until five in the morning. Dances also were held at Mr. Soltys's place, Woloshens, Chumolas, Andranak's and John Yakiwchuk's place.
As there was no church in our area, we went to Mountain Road. The church was built between 1923-25 by an architect and builder Rev. Phillip Ruh. He built one in Edmonton and then built the one in Mountain Road. It was built in the form of a cross, a 100 foot wide and 120 foot long. The height was 120 feet, seating capacity was 400 and standing room was on the balcony for about another 100 people. Many tourists visited the church on route to or from Clear Lake. Sadly, it was destroyed by lightning in 1966.
Father Ruh also built the church at Cook's Creek. It was only half the size of our church but the structure was the same. He lies in state in Cooks Creek Groto. In 1932, the Kerr's Lake parish was also built by donations of lumber and free help was always offered. Even the fellow who owned the sawmill cut all the lumber free of charge.
1936 and 1937 were difficult years. We dug seneca roots for five cents a pound and the digging was hard work. We used to catch gophers and the municipality paid us one cent a tail. Most of the kids would catch them by the hundreds. In two years time, there were no gophers in the entire district. I used to go around with Lloyd Hemmingson. His uncle had foxes in Erickson and fed them rabbits. He told Lloyd to bring all the rabbits we could catch, so every week when dad would go to town, we'd put the rabbits in boxes and go with dad to sell them to him. We were fortunate to always have a little pocket money.
I had a bicycle and sometimes in the summer we'd go on our bikes to Minnedosa to a show. We didn't get home until midnight.
In 1936, Steve decided to get married to Mary An drynak. Mary's parents couldn't afford a wedding so all the neighbors decided to go to the bush and donate a cord of wood for the groceries for the wedding. Dad put two teams on and altogether about ten teams hauled out a load of wood each. We started out to Erickson with the wood. Mary's brother Bill, took the lead, when we got to the lake it was drifting snow. Dad asked Bill to put his team in front to break the trail as the horses were quite big but Bill said no. We got as far as Carlson's and Bill's horses were exhausted. So dad made Bill unhitch the horses and put ours on his load, then returned for our load. As Steve and Mary didn't have a home of their own, they lived on the farm with us. Meanwhile we were planning to build on the land across from us. We already had the logs cut for the house and barn but they had to be left to dry.
In 1937, Steve got sick with King George's sickness. If it hadn't been for Dr. Rutledge and his nurse Mrs. Biczo, he would not have survived as he couldn't get to Brandon Hospital with the snow. The nurse stayed in our home for three days. Mother had water boiling constantly. The nurse placed two sheets in hot water, rung them out and rolled Steve in them. As soon as they cooled, she repeated this. Finally Dr. Rutledge decided he could be moved to Brandon Hospital. He stayed in until the spring of that