Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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RUBY (GOWAN) ADAMS

Mr. James Francis Gowan (my father) and his mother farmed 22-12-16 across from Wallace Moffatt''s farm, for two years after his dad''s death.

Then my father and mother moved five miles south and east to Tom Gowan''s homestead in May 1927.I willalways remember this. Allwe children still went to Brookdale Consolidated Schoo!. Our neighbours after we moved were: Hans Christofferson, John and Fred Lucas, Ken Boles, John Harburn and Walter Trundle.

The first few years my father worked for Ken Boles, and while he was there they planted the spruce trees around the Brookdale Consolidated School grounds. Ken Boles, Bob Goulding, Jim Gowan, Harry Boles and Robert Gowan took three-deck wagon boxes and teams of horses south to Camp Hughes and dug up the trees. Bill Borland, who was the caretaker of the school, looked after the trees, hoeing them each year until they started to grow well. When I left Manitoba in 1971 this spruce grove was a sight to behold.

In the fall of 1928, Jim Gowan tendered for a school van at $1.25 per day. My father drove the van for 28 years. At his death in 1956, Brookdale School was closed in his honour. I always helped, hauling wood to many people in Brookdale and doing housework. We used to pick wild fruit: saskatoons, pincherries, black currants, chokecherries, loganberries, strawberries and raspberries in the south bush. We canned them for winter fruit. I remember most clearly the summer that Velma Harburn and I picked and canned 100 quarts of wild strawberries without a drop of water. We picked bags full of hazelnuts. They grew in clusters of five to eight. In the winter evenings we shelled them. Many a Christmas they were the only nuts we had. We also used them in baking.

During the ''dirty thirties'', I worked with my father threshing, and my mother worked for farmers cooking and helping wherever she could. Iremember one time when we were threshing at John Lucas'' place, Walter Trundle, Johnnie Hume, Robert Hume, father and I were helping. Walter Trundle ran the outfit and the others had stook teams.

There was a big fire coming up from the south, so we tied our horses to the rack, all jumped in the truck and went to fight the fire. This happened quite often when we were living near the south bush. One fire came right to the C.N.R. tracks.

Few in this generation will remember cutting hay with horse-drawn mowers or raking it into rows or bunches with the old dump rakes drawn by one or two horses. Then we picked up the hay with the hay sweep or the men forked it onto the racks. One time we had just finished stacking the hay when sparks from a train locomotive started a fire that burned a lot of the stacks.

One thing that we used to look forward to was burning the hay meadows late in the fall. The Harburns and the Gowans used to go out about seven o''clock on a Saturday night and set the meadows on fire. We would watch the fire and finally arrive home about 2:00 a.m. Mother used to have lunch ready for us and then off to bed we''d go.

Next morning was Sunday and as a rule we slept late after burning the meadows.

In February 1956, John Lucas, a pioneer neighbour, passed away leaving N.W. 2ยท12-16, his homestead, to me. With Mr. Wallace Moffatt''s help and advice, I put a house on this property. All the neighbours helped make the basement and I had a ready-built house brought in from Carman. I still kept on driving the school van until June 1956. Then I went to Carberry to work for the Manitoba Telephone System.

In 1966 I met Roy Adams while on my holidays.

Later I married Roy and came to Crossfield, Alberta to live.

I never forgot my last days at Brookdale and Carberry. I was well showered with gifts and nice things to remember. Whenever I felt lonesome for home and friends, I would get out my shower and wedding cards and read them. Due to illness, I was unable to come back to the Brookdale Centennial but my thoughts were there. '' Editor''s note - Ruby (Gowan) Adams passed away in July 1984. Ruby''s mother, Mrs. Evelyn Gowan, who lived with her daughter, Ruth Duncan, in Winnipeg, passed away in April 1986, in her early 90''s.

 

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