Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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Rev. H.T. Smith and family arrived in Brookdale in July 1943 to take on the work of the Brookdale charge of the United Church of Canada. The charge consisted of four preaching points - Gordon, Oberon, Ingelow, and Brookdale - so Sunday was a very busy day for the minister. The Smiths lived in Brookdale for seven years, which given the migrant habits of rural ministers of the time, was a lengthy stay and reflected a comfortable family situation and a satisfying ministry.

Rev. H. T. Smith Hubert Smith and his wife, Queenie, were both born in England in the late years of the nineteenth century and immigrated to Canada to pursue the work of the Methodist Church. Dad studied theology Mt. Allison University at Sack ville, N.B.; he was ordained into ministry in 1915 and married later the same year. Over the next 11 years, the Smiths served several Maritime charges including Boystown, N.B. and Summerside, P.E.I. As years passed and the marriage failed to bring any increase, the Smiths gave a home to an informally adopted daughter, Dorothy (nee Robinson). In 1926, they immigrated west again to begin a ministry in rural Manitoba that would continue for over 30 years. Makaroff, Macdonald, McCreary, Helston, Franklin - these were the stopping places on the way to Brookdale.

At Helston, Dorothy met and married a young farmer by the name of David Pohl so she was not with us during our years at Brookdale. The family which arrived in 1943 consisted of three pre-teen children. The eldest, Geoffrey, had entered the world in 1931 after his parents had been married for almost 16 years; Elizabeth (Betty) was born in August of 1932; and David arrived in October of 1933. So with the depression at its worst, our parents had the task of providing for a family of four.

I remember the mission bales - bundles of used clothing - arriving at our house in McCreary and my mother spending many hours on the sewing machine doing alterations.

No sooner was the depression over than war was upon us. Mother took us to England in the summer of 1938 to visit all our relatives and there were growing rumors of war at the time and some apprehension that we might not get back to Canada before it began. War touched all of us; in grade one I learned to knit six-inch wool afghan squares for the Red Cross; we all saved pennies to buy war saving stamps; chocolate and candy was in very short supply. As we moved to Brookdale, it seemed the tied of war was waning, and thoughts soon turned to suitable ways of marking the end of the conflict. Dad was involved in a lot of planning for that, and when V.E. Day arrived in 1945 we participated in a community service of thanksgiving and an evening celebration around a huge bonfire in the school yard.

Our father always made sure that we were closely involved in the church in some practical way.

It was my responsibility to pump air into the pressure tank that fuelled the gas lamps, and also to see that the hymn numbers were properly posted for Sunday service. At 15, I assumed the duties of secretary of the Sunday School - ordering supplies, receiving and depositing money, keeping records, etc. One of dad''s proudest days was the Sunday his three children stood up together and made their confession of faith and were received into church membership.

School was an important part of our lives and we had good teachers whom we still remember with fondness and appreciation. I finished my high school days in Brookdale while Dave and Betty finished in Birtle. I graduated in 1949, took a summer short course and became a permit teacher in a school with 10 grades in one room and a senior student one year older than the teacher. Nineteen fifty-51 saw me at Normal School after which I taught two years at Rothesay near Birtle and then headed north to The Pas and I have been there ever since. I married Rose Makarchuk in 1960 and have three children.

Betty entered the School of Nursing at Grace Hospital after high school and achieved her R.N.

From there she went to work in Hamiota where she met an x-ray technician named Colin Maxwell. In 1959 she became Mrs. Maxwell and has raised two children. The Maxwells lived for a time in Portage La Prairie and are now in Winnipeg where Colin instructs radiology at Red River Community College.

David joined the R.C.A.F. when he finished high school and followed a military career in servicing communication equipment. His tour of duty took him to Clinton (Ont.), Penhold (Alta.), Moose Jaw, Portage La Prairie, and West Germany. After serving his full term in the service, he "retired" to enter the TV business; he is now the proprietor of a thriving shop in Birtle. He has been married to Charlene McKay since 1959 and they have raised two sons.

Dorothy and David Pohl lived on a farm near Gladstone and raised their family there. The marriage dissolved about 1970 and Dorothy is now living in Abbotsford, BC, married to Lawrence Tufford.

The Smith family left Brookdale in 1950, took up residence in Birtle and then moved to Holland (Man.). Dad retired from the ministry in 1955 after 40 years of service, accepted a short term as retired supply at Boissevain and then returned to live in Holland. Mother passed away suddenly in 1958, and dad lived alone in Holland until his death in 1970.

Both are buried in Bethel Cemetery near Holland.


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