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Page Index of Forest to Field Volume One
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than a couple of years to learn the language well enough to go away to work. She worked first in Minnedosa and later in Brandon, where she was employed as a maid in the home of Ernest Whitehead of the Brandon Sun. She and Gotfrid met at church and social gatherings in Scandinavia and Erickson when she was home with her family. They were married in 1912 at her parents home north of Erickson.
Gotfrid built their home on the farm on S.W. 33-17- 18W on the southwest shore of Otter Lake. This was a small farm so, besides farming, Gotfrid worked for others whenever possible. Here their two children were born: Lillian (refer to Gusdal, Ernest and Lillian) on Easter Sunday, March 23, 1913, and Herbert on May 18, 1914. Olga was alone at home with her small daughter when the time came for Herbert's arrival. The difficult birth experienced with the arrival of an eleven pound, ten ounce son, and the fact that Olga never did enjoy farming led to an almost immediate move to Erickson. Living quarters were obtained above Londry's blacksmith shop, while Gotfrid and his brother-in-law, David Carlson, built a small cottage-roof house on First St. S. En couraged by reports from Olga's family in Texas about job opportunities, they moved there in 1917.
After moving into a company house in Port Arthur, Olga immediately started boarding some of Gotfrid's fellow workers who otherwise ate in restaurants. She was an excellent cook and when one man left another soon filled his place. This was a very lucrative time for both families. After the war, work on the many ships in the slipways slowed down, but no members of the two families were laid off. However a very destructive fire in the shipyard and vicinity drove them from their homes. The Carlson and Johnson families with their neighbours, had carried their furniture and personal goods to the docks. Women and children sat with their belongings in the smoky air while the men helped fight the fire. Grandma Carlson, Olga and her children slept and ate there until a barge was rented and they moved to Beaumont. This was a small booming city in the centre of what was then the largest oil field in the world. Steady employment was again available. As the oil field spread out so did Gotfrid's work take him farther from home. During these years in Texas, letters from his brothers and the newspapers were full of reports of wheat at five dollars a bushel. He wanted to return to Manitoba, and again try farming. They settled on Sec. 12-18-18W next to his father's homestead. This was bought partly with a mortgage. This again was a small farm with a river and hayland bordering the western shore of Otter Lake on the north arm. There was little land under cultivation and wheat had dropped to a fraction of war prices. However they harvested a good crop of hay and from almost two acres of potatoes filled their earthen cellar right up to the trap door in the floor. That winter of 1920-21 there was a shortage of potatoes and people from as far away as Franklin and Smoland, south of Minnedosa came to buy potatoes. Coupled with hay sales, welcome c~sh was obtained. Gotfrid and Olga often spoke of this good fortune in the midst of a very ill-fated venture at farming. Two winters and one summer were spent living on "twelve". Lillian and Herbert walked four and a half
Got/rid, Herbert, Lillian, and Olga Johnson.
miles around the north end of the lake to attend school at the Little Red School in the Scandinavia district in the summer and two a half miles across the lake in winter. One winter they spent with Uncle Oliver and Aunt Lydia Johnson and attended school in Erickson with their cousins Alice and Olive. In 1923, they abandoned the farm to the mortgage company, sold their farm goods and moved to Erickson. Until Gotfrid was able to build a new home on Third St. S. (currently owned by Ted Challborn) they rented Adolph Tilley's farm house just east of the C.N.R. station. Gotfrid was back in the carpentry trade but without a car it was difficult to work where jobs were available. However, a neighbour, John Anderson, was also a contractor and builder and he had a car. He employed Gotfrid to help with the contracts he and Olav Olson had made to build cottages at Clear Lake. Anderson would load up with food Sunday night or early Monday morning, take his two men and return Saturday night, having nearly always completed a cottage in one week. On Sundays they shared their car with the Johnsons' for outings to Clear Lake and visits to old friends, Henry and Emma Carlson; memorable hap penings for a family without a car.
In the spring of 1928, with Albert Rognan added to their crew, they built the forestry exhibition cabin on the fair grounds in Brandon. In a tent camp Olga did the cooking for them. After this job was completed the family moved to Clear Lake where they remained until retirement. Gotfrid engaged in contracting both frame and log buildings, had his own crew and Olga continued cooking for the men, a seven day a week job. Success was finally coming their way and they soon had their own residence.
He who plants thorns must not expect to gather roses.