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Page Index of Forest to Field Volume One
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Aileen, born 1926. After graduating from Erickson High School and taking her Grade XII in Elphinstone, Aileen taught at Otter Lake School on a permit for a year. She was employed in the Royal Bank in Erickson with Mr. Ferguson when they again opened the branch in Erickson after the Second World War and later worked as a clerk in Minnedosa. In 1953, she went to Victoria, B.C. where she married Roy Bridger in 1955.
Roy was a professional lithographer for the B.C. government and worked for the Queen's Printers. He passed away in 1981 shortly after retirement. They had three children, James, Donald and Lorraine. They all reside in Victoria.
LEE, JOHN AND HARRIET
by the Family
On completing Grade 10 in 1925, John left school and helped at home on the farm until his younger brothers were through school. In the winter of 1930 he spent a few weeks at the Manitoba College of Agriculture taking a course in Farm Mechanics. During the '30's he oc casionally worked for neighbouring farmers. In the winter, wages were ten dollars per month: in summer, twenty dollars per month was considered a good wage. Occasional jobs were available in the park because of the development project there. One of these was hauling rock by team and sleigh over the frozen lake to lay the foundation of the pier that so many have enjoyed since. Mostly they were years of being fortunate in having a home where he was welcome to stay when so many young men "rode the rods" from coast to coast looking for work. He had hoped to secure a position as a grain buyer with Manitoba Pool Elevators, but the drought and hard times only gave him a few weeks of work as a helper during harvest and as a relief agent in Clan william when the agent there was ill. In the fall of 1936, he made arrangements to rent NE 31 and NW 32, 17, 18 from his uncle, Peter Lee. This land had been homesteaded by Jakob Haralson and later owned by his son, August. After his death, Peter bought it and it had had different renters in the ensuing years. The only buildings remaining in the yard were the log house which had been made into a horse barn and a stationary granary.
Harriet, elder daughter of Henry and Emma Carlson, completed Grade 1 X at Tales School in 1931 and spent the next two years in Erickson High School, staying with her Aunt Bertha Anderson. She had dreams of teaching and journalism, but with hundreds of teachers applying for each available job and no money to pay for an education, she remained at home helping her mother. She occasionally worked for neighbours for the grand sums of eight or ten dollars a month, and thirty-five or fifty cents for a long day during threshing.
On July 6, 1937, John and Harriet were married at her home and they began their life together in the home where they still reside. John and his brothers had previously cut logs on a permit in the park, and had them sawed at Zachary's mill set up on W. Clym's farm. With this lumber, his uncle, that summer, erected the shell of
the house for the newleyweds. Harriet cooked for the carpenters in a small granary. Their first bedroom was Mr. Haralson's threshing caboose. As they were still not in the house at threshing time, the crew ate outside on planks set on saw-horses. There must have still been some pioneer spirit in the blood!
John's father gave him a four-horse team and three cows, a compensation for the years he worked at home, and Harriet was given two heifers and a pig from her home. They had about thirty hens hatched from eggs John had set under hens in the spring. With some second hand machinery, they were set to start farming. This was 1937, the year claimed to be the darkest of the drought and depression years. They weren't pioneers, but Harriet washed clothes on a washboard and melted snow and ice for water like the generations before her and John walked many miles behind four sections of harrows until con ditions improved.
During the next eight years five children were born to them, the first two at home; David, 1938, Garth, 1939, Craig, 1941, and the twins, Elizabeth and Norval, 1945. These years also saw the beginning of the Lee Dairy. In November, 1941, Mrs. Otto Halvarson, who had for many years, with the help of her family, supplied milk to the village of Erickson, was having a sale and leaving the district. As the Lee's already had a few cream customers, they were asked if they would sell milk too. This idea had not occurred to them before, but with the limited acreage on the farm and considerable hayland it seemed feasible. Thus on November 1, John drove to town with horses (no money to run the Model T Ford that summer) with one pint of milk for Mrs. Karna Jacobson. Customers were added gradually, and nine years later when they discontinued the milk route they were delivering 160 quarts, plus cream, each day, 365 days a year. During this time they had also built a hen house, kept a purebred Leghorn flock, selling hatching and commercial eggs. All emphasis those years was on the war effort and feeding the world, but for most folks back on the farm it was also an opportunity for getting established and getting ahead after many years of just survival.
In 1944, an agreement was made to buy the farm and the dairy barn was built the next year. It wasn't until 1950 that they were able to finish the interior of the house. After thirteen years of 2x4 walls and spruce flooring laid on an angle, times had really changed. With hydro coming in 1951 and the installation of running water in 1954 much of the drudgery of the farm was over.
All the children were baptized and confirmed in the Bethel Lutheran Church in Danvers as their parents had been before them and they attended the Erickson Schools. As soon as they were old enough they were involved in the daily chores and growth of the farm. They all enjoyed the Bethel Luther League, sports and the 4-H Clubs.
Since discontinuing their own milk route, their milk was picked up daily by the People's Co-op Creamery in Minnedosa. In 1957 that company decided to quit bottling milk in Minnedosa and ship in the needed supply in cartons from Winnipeg. This was a blow to the dairy farmers of the area as they lost their market. Fortunately the Manitoba Dairy and Poultry Co-op in Brandon could