Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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I was born in England in 1902. My father Charles Bonnett was a dairyman. He rented cows from the farmers for 12 pounds a year. The farmer supplied the feed for 35 cows and father had to save 12 heifer calves in return for the feed. There were four of us to do the milking which was all done by hand in those days. I milked cows when I was six years of age. We had a steam operated cream separator. I remember the large amount of butter and Dorset blue cheese father made. Dorset blue cheese, which is a blue molded cheese can only be made in the county of Dorset, because of the damp climate. It looks like Danish blue cheese but Danish blue cheese is injected with coloring while the Dorset is natural blue molded cheese.

I got my name "Ned" from a calf. All the cows stood in one long row. One cow had a very small calf they called "Ned". I do not remember this as I was only four years old, but I used to play with this calf so they started calling me "Ned" as I was small like the calf. When we came to Canada my mother and dad were going to call me by my right name "Alfred James" but Alfred did not know his name, and only answered to "Ned", so they continued to call me that.

Dad, mother, sister Katie and I arrived in Winnipeg one very cold day in March 1913. There were 13 horses with buggies tied up at the c.P.R.

station. These were the taxis. We went for a taxi ride and saw a lot of Winnipeg.

We moved to Glenora for a month, then back to Winnipeg and on to Dauphin where father got a job looking after a farm. When we got there, there was no house on the farm, only a granary. We had to stay in the Grandview Hotel for awhile. Then father got a job with W. Buchanan and we stayed there for 15 months before going to a homestead at Rorketon.

Until I was 12 years old I went to school in the summer and it was closed during the winter. I stayed at home to help until 1922 when Iworked out sending my wages home to dad. I worked out till 1929 when I could not find work anywhere so I went home. Times were very hard - no work and no money.My dad and I built a sawmill. I am afraid we did not know much about a sawmill and we ruined about six saws before we learned how to cut lumber. After a couple of years I built a better mill with which I could cut about 10,000 feet of lumber a day. I cut the lumber for Rex Carter''s house when he got married. I sawed lumber, threshed and broke land to make a living.

In 1950 I moved to Brookdale and had the International Machine Agency for 10 years, but it was a failure.

~ ~~ In 1960 I bought a backhoe and that is what put me on the road to success. I bought trucks and cats with my two sons, Fred and Arnold. We had a gravel business. This got too much for me so I sold everything to Fred and kept the backhoe until 1985.

I put many miles of pipe underground in 25 years with the same machine and it is still in good running condition.

My sister Katie (Mrs. Robinson) lives in Dauphin, sister Olive (Mrs. Linten Weaver) and brother Gordon at Rorketon, a sister May (Mrs.

Gordon Curran) at Garden Bay, B.C. and a brother Harold in Wales.

I have two sons and a daughter. Fred married Isabelle Ducharme and they have a daughter Cheryl and two sons Kelly and Wayne. They live in Brookdale.

Arnold is married to Marion Flannigan and they have two daughters Debbie and Lisa (Mrs. Ray Mitchell). They live near Carberry.

Fred and Arnold have a gravel business in and around these areas.

Daughter Joyce is married to Harvey Jones of Wawanesa and they have a daughter Melanie.

I live in Sr. Citizen Complex in Brookdale, and enjoy fairly good health, riding my bicycle and visiting with my friends. I have my car, a van and a boat so spend a lot of time each summer fishing.


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