Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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SAMUEL RYERSON AMES

Samuel Ryerson Ames was the ninth child of Samuel and Mary Ames of Ethel, Grey Township, Huron County, Ontario. He was born March 1st, 1865, and married Marilda Ann Whelpton on December 30th, 1885, at Brussels, Ontario. Marilda was the first born child of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Whelpton, Ethel, Ontario. The Ames and Whelpton families were members of the Methodist Church.

Samuel and Marilda were my parents. They both sang in the church choir. Dad''s father was a cooper by trade. He came from England to Peterborough County, then called "Canada West" and from there in November, 1846, to Ethel, Ontario. Dad drove a dray wagon and did some clerking as well.

In 1886 dad and mother migrated by train to Brandon, Manitoba, and from there to the S.E.

31-12-16 North Cypress, then owned by dad''s brother, Thomas, who lived in Winnipeg. There was a shanty on it which dad and mother lived in until there was a grass fire, started they thought, from a spark from the cook stove as mother was preparing the noon meal. By the time dad got in from the field all they could save was a two-tiered cupboard which had two glass doors in the top half. They carried it out in one piece and never broke a dish.

Ido not know where they lived or what they did until they moved into the house on the S.W. 31-12- 16. This was dad''s homestead. There was a twostorey house, a small earth cellar, four rooms downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs which were never finished as far as partitions were concerned. There was a small stable and eventually a machine shed and a granary. No well water fit to drink was available; even the stock did not like it.

There was a slough behind the stable and it served the animals. Drinking water was hauled from a well about a half mile east of the buildings. Ten of the children were born in this house. As there were no doctors close by in those days, mother was attended by Mrs. Daniel Jardine.

Roy was the first born (Feb. 12, 1888-1968), Vera (May 23, 1890-1953), Maud (Feb. 2, 1892- 1973), Charlie (Dec. 16, 1893-1981), Harold (Aug.

28, 1895-1985), George (Sept. 29, 1897-1966), Mildred (May 12, 1899-1961), Fred (May 13, 1901- 1982), Myrtle (Mar. 19, 1903 - ), Nelson (Apr. 25, 1905-1906), Ruby (July 18, 1907 - ).

During the first few years dad went north in the fall to cut firewood, leaving mother alone to tend to the stock and whatever. All the children, as they became school age, went to Norman School and Creetord. We also went to the stone church at Creeford. As Roy and the other boys became old enough to help dad with the farm work, they dropped out of school and went back after the fall work was done.

Later on, in 1905, we moved on to the "Thomas Lamb" half, S. 30-12-16 in North Cypress. On this farm there was a large three-storey barn with a stone foundation about eight feet high. This was for the animals, the second storey contained the grain bins and some farm implements. The top floor was the hayloft. There was a good water well near the barn. Eventually there was a henhouse, a pig barn, a machine shed, and a blacksmith shop where dad did a lot of his own work. He became very proficient at it. The house was all stone with a lean-to on both the east and west ends. It had no cellar, but had a living room, a pantry and a small room which we called the parlor. There were three bedrooms upstairs. The west end lean-to was used for a summer kitchen; the east end one was used for storing winter fuel and junk, also as a place to hang the winter laundry. When the Lambs lived there, it was used as a store and post office. The roof leaked so badly, that eventually it was torn down.

In April 1906, Nelson died twelve days after his first birthday. When Ruby was born in July 1907, Mrs. Jardine was in attendance. Dad and mother took a trip to British Columbia, early in 1908, taking Ruby and me with them. We visited mother''s folks who had moved from Ontario to B.C. in 1893 and had settled in Agassiz. While we were there word came from home that Harold and George had pneumonia. Mrs. Jardine was in charge and thankfully, the boys recovered. By this time, Roy had left home to find work elsewhere.

In 1909 I started attending Norman School along with George, Mildred and Fred. I remember one day when we were on our way home, George stopped the horse and buggy to chat with Cliff Hoey who was doing some ploughing near the road. He had a little dog with him and we had just stopped when this dog came yapping out of the long grass frightening our horse so badly that he took one jump, broke the whipple-tree in half, took off, and left us sitting there. We pushed and pulled the buggy up hill and down, across a creek and on another mile and a half until we reached home.

Mother was so upset when the horse arrived home alone, but relieved when she saw the four of us coming, buggy and all. That was just one of several runaways with horse-drawn vehicles on our farm.

For three or four years dad''s folk used to send us four barrels of apples, maple syrup and maple sugar. Mother used to buy "Daly''s" black tea in the 25 lb. boxes. In the spring dad would butcher four pigs, salt the meat well and store it in barrels with oats sprinkled around it. Mother made headcheese and sausages, cut the sides into bacon strips, cooked it and stored it in its own fat in crocks. The rest of the fat was rendered for use as lard for baking. We made all our own butter and fresh milk curds for cottage cheese. In later years we shipped sour cream in five gallon cans to the Brandon Creamery.

We also grew our own vegetables. Mother would can the green beans the old-fashioned way, boiling the filled jars about three hours in the wash boiler. She made beet pickles, yellow bean pickles, green tomato pickles and mixed vegetable mustard pickles. The pots of corn on the cob that were consumed when all the family were at home was "out of this world" as the young fry say now-a-days.

The same goes for the boiled eggs that were eaten for Easter Sunday breakfast. We used to drive for miles north and east of our farm to pick wild high bush cranberries, and saskatoons, always looking for wild strawberries when they were in season.

Mother preserved quarts of all the fresh fruit that we could buy, and even our home-grown citron.

Then there was the potato patch where we younger ones picked potato bugs off the leaves, putting the bugs into a can with coal oil in it.

Occasionally dad would slaughter a young steer. Then later, farmers formed a beef ring. Once a week during the summer, each farmer in turn would supply a beef animal which was slaughtered at a certain farmer''s place which had the necessary facilities. Each farmer was responsible for picking up his share. Also, one was to get an assortment of cuts each week. Ifit was your beef, you got the heart and liver.

In the spring, mother set the incubator with hens'' eggs, marking each one with an X because they had to be taken out of the incubator daily, cooled and returned. The incubator was heated by a coal oil lamp. A thermometer was placed in with the eggs and was checked regularly for the proper temperature. It took 21 days for the chicks to start pecking their way out of the shells. It was always fun to come home from school and dash in to see how many chicks there were. Oh yes, the eggs were candled each day to see ifall was well and any bad eggs were destroyed. I would say that 50 eggs were set, although I can''t remember for sure. When the chicks were ready to be moved they were put in a brooder. It also was heated with a coal oil lamp.

Their food for the first few days consisted of hardboiled eggs chopped very fine; then oatmeal and finely ground grain.

The dresses in those days were long, with full long sleeves, high necks and full skirts. Blouses were long sleeved. Mother always wore a homemade band apron around home. Iremember that Mildred and I wore pinafores or pinnies as we called them, over our dresses to school. We wore long black undies in the winter months. Mother knit socks and mitts mostly for the men, mittens for Ruby and me with a braided wool string attached, up one coat sleeve and down the other, so that we wouldn''t lose them. Vera became a very good self-taught seamstress and so did Maud, both doing excellent work.

After freeze-up in the fallof 1907,we moved to Brookdale. We had two rooms downstairs at the rear end of the drug store and the doctor''s office.

Yes, we had a doctor in Brookdale then. His name, I think, was Dr. Baynham. He was killed in a runaway horse-drawn vehicle in the winter time when on his way to attend a patient.

We also had two bedrooms upstairs, not heated. One Sunday evening when most of the population of the town were attending church, the big store across the street burned down. The second time we moved in to town for the winter, we lived upstairs over the hardware store, next door to Miller''s store. For the third winter (1909-10) we moved again to this same place. By 1910, the skating rink was in operation and Bliss Goodwin was the caretaker. My dad and Jack Douglas and many others took up curling. Ruby and I learned to skate on bobsleigh skates. Later, Ifellheir to Fred''s skates; I never did get any other skates all my skating days, though once I did get a new pair of skate boots from Eaton''s catalogue. The young fellows used to play hockey with Geordy Switzer as the referee. Iremember one time when allfive of the Ames brothers were on the same team. Fred was pretty young at the time to be playing on a men''s team but he could really skate. Maud was a very fast skater, too, winning several ladies'' races over the years. On November 30, 1910, Vera married Willie Ford. In 1913 Roy married Isabella Gillespie of Douglas. They lived in Brookdale in the house across the street from Angus Clegg''s home. Roy''s two girls were born there. During the summer of 1913, the big hotel on the west side of town was struck by lightning and burned down. When Brookdale School District became consolidated, Roy drove a van. Ruby and I then went to the Brookdale School and Fred did, too, after the fall work was done.

In March 1914, Maud and Etta Ford left home for British Columbia. Maud worked for our grandmother at Agassiz where she met her future husband, Irving Coffey, who was a railroad man. He had come to the Whelptons to fish and hunt. They were married October 4, 1915. They came to visit us in August 1916,and while here, Manitoba served up one of its famous dust storms. Also in the summer of 1914or 15, there was a bad hail storm. I was at Roy''s at the time and I remember Bella and I holding bed blankets up to the windows on the north side to keep the hail and rain out. There were many large front windows broken in the downtown stores and a lot of crop damage, although dad''s farm wasn''t badly damaged.

In June 1916, Charlie went to the Peace River country to file for a homestead. He found what he wanted in the Bezanson district and filed by proxy for Roy, George and Fred. Charlie and Ern Ford bought a steam threshing outfit in 1917,and threshed dad''s crop, Willie Ford''s and also several of the neighbours'' crops. This eliminated the need to stack the stooked sheaves. I can remember seeing all the farms around with their crop in stacks, usually four stacks to a set.

When Charlie, Ern and George were overseas in 1918,Harold and Andy Middleton ran the outfit. I drove a team of horses and hauled the grain to Brookdale elevator which was operated by Geordy Switzer. Charlie, Ern and George returned from overseas early in 1919, and in the fallmoved to their homesteads at Bezanson, Alberta. Dad was so pleased with getting his threshing done early, that he bought a threshing outfit of his own. This was a smaller outfitwith a gasoline engine. Harold operated this one, too. While Harold was away threshing for neighbors, mother and Ihelped dad stack the green feed. Believe me, this was no fun. Ialso did some fall ploughing with four horses and a gang plough.

Mildred helped out for a few days while clad took gasoline and oil supplies to the place where Harold was threshing. Mildred spent a good deal of her time at Vera''s helping her with the children.

In December 1898, dad went back to Ontario for his father and mother''s 50th wedding anniversary.

In the winter of 1917, dad, mother and Ruby went on a trip to B.c. to visit Maud and Irving, and mother''s folks. Mildred was left in charge of the housework at home.

In 1918 when the flu hit the Brookdale community, they phoned out to us asking for help, so Harold and I went to town to do what we could.

The LO.O.F. Hall was used for a hospital with patients lying on the floor. Cots were found for those who were seriously ill. Harold worked most of the time at the hall. I was sent first to the Jack Davidson home. There, everyone was sick in bed.

Jack''s man who looked after the livery stable, was also helping in the house. When Mr. Davidson developed pneumonia he was taken to the LO.O.F.

Hall where he died. The J.W. Miller house was used for the preparation of food, the laundry, and for sleeping quarters for the nurses. Mrs. Jack Wilson looked after this. Nurse Tully from Winnipeg was in charge at the LO.O.F. Hall. From the Davidson home I went to Roy''s house where they were all sick in bed. Bernice was on the verge of pneumonia so she was taken to the hall. Harold was responsible for getting her there. Mr. Curtis called twice a day to take temperatures. Harold came over each day to look after the horses and cow, and bring in some fuel. When they were well enough and able to get out of bed, I was sent to help at Olive and Joe Ernest''s home. Finally, it was over and we went home, very thankful that we had escaped coming down with the flu ourselves. Incidentally, the Millers had moved to B.c. in 1918.

In 1919, Roy and Fred moved to the Bezanson district in Alberta. Roy and Bella had two boys born there - Robert (Jan. 1922), and Donald (Nov.

1923). Bella never really recovered from their births and passed away on Dec. 24, 1923. Grandma and Grandpa Gillespie took care of the four children until four years later when Roy married Beatrice Nichol of Creeford In the summer of 1920, our west-end kitchen was destroyed by fire. The house was saved by three of us bailing water out of the soft water cistern. I was handing the pail of water up to a friend, Hugh, who was perched on the corner of the house roof. He in turn passed it over to Harold who threw the water over the burning shingles. We did this until I couldn''t reach the water in the cistern any longer, and it was getting pretty hot up on the roof.

Harold had phoned the Jack Wilsons for help and they soon arrived bringing three other men with them. In the meantime, mother and Ruby were busy getting everything they could out of the house. Dad had hitched a horse to the stoneboat, put a barrel on it which he filled with well water and hauled it up to the house just in case it was needed. After the Wilsons arrived everything was soon outside. Dad hired Mr. Goddard to repair the house roof and later on another kitchen was built.

In late 1920, Vera and Willie moved to the Bezanson district with six of their children; eight more children were born there. Mildred went with them as far as Edmonton, to help Vera with the children. She returned in January 1921, and married Bill Lawrence of Ingelow.

In the fall of 1920, mother became ill. Dad took her to a Winnipeg hospital to have a goitre operation.

She never really got back on her feet again as the stroke left her with a knee problem. We brought her home in February of 1921. We had fixed up the parlor with a bed, and she remained downstairs until Maud came to see her. Maud and dad decided to take mother to Brandon for special treatment. Dad rented a room in a private home for her and Ruby went to take care of her. Mother was able to get from the bed to a chair but one day she fell and injured her hip which really made her bedfast again; so I was sent to care for her. On July Llth she suffered another stroke and on July 13 passed away just six days before her 58th birthday.

On November 30,1921, Harold married Lizzie Chisholm. She came to live with us on the farm. In October 1922, I left home to go to B.c., first working for grandmother at Agassiz. In March 1923, I came to Port Coquitlam to work in the telephone office, and stayed with Maud and Irving.

In January 1922, George married Thelma Robideau of Bezanson. In May 1924, I married Jim Duncan. In June 1925, Fred married Edna Delaney of Bezanson.

In March 1927, Ruby came to B.c., and married George Wingrove in August 1928. In 1927 also, dad moved to Brookdale. In May 1930, he married his brother Henry''s widow, Sarah Ames. He died in Brandon Hospital in March 1931.

Dad had. been a member of the Brookdale LO.O.F. Lodge No. 66 since 1909. During his years of membership, he filled all the chairs. At the time of his death he was Degree Master and Financial Secretary, an office he had held for three years. He was also the agent for the Portage la Prairie Mutual Insurance Company. His handwriting was beautiful.

Harold was now fully in charge of the farm.

In December 1931, Charlie married Elsie Cox of Justice. In October 1952, Aunt Sarah died.

Harold and Lizzie moved to Brookdale in 1952.

They moved to Brandon in 1974 where Harold passed away in April 1985.

That just about brings my story to an end. Out of 11 children of the Samuel Ryerson Ames family, Ruby and I are the only two left.

 

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