By Lester Story
"To Alberta or Bust"
I think it must have been in the year 1901 when Ma and Pa decided to leave the eighty-acre homestead in Minnesota. I remember them talking about how inclement the weather was and how they had to turn the flax, even on Sunday so it wouldn't spoil.
I believe Ma was the first white woman in the Holden district. I was two months and nine days old on that spring day, in 1902, when we landed at Wetaskiwin - likely I was the first white baby.
It was terribly wet weather in those days, and all the sloughs were filled with water N trapped musk-rats for several years and made a substantial amount of money even though their hides were worth about fourteen cents apiece. Pa was a skilful hunter, and we had meat on the table in season at all times.
I recall vividly the one room log cabin we lived in. It had a sod roof and the floor was only partially boarded. There were bunk beds along the east wall, and I remember the trundle bed we brought up from Minnesota. It was supposed to be shoved under the bigger bed in the daytime. As I grew older I outgrew the trundle bed so Pa made a bunk for me on the south end near the door We had two doors in the cabin in case of fire.
Talking about early recollections, I remember seeing Dr Rush when he came out to our cabin. I do not remember what he came for, but I was in bed and he came over and looked at me. I suppose he must have thought, "What a life".
Dr Turner also came out one time when Ma had a tumor. I remember him pouring water from our cast-iron teakettle. We had a cast iron pancake griddle, a large cast iron pot for making mulligan, and we had a cast iron gem - well it was used for making oblong gems, like muffins, only different.
We kept pork by salting it real heavy. Our cream went down the well, where there was usually some ice until May. The creamery men came around once a week or so, and tested our cream, and that was quite a help.
We had a half section farm to begin with. Dad got a homestead and a pre-emption by paying so much per acre. I want to tell you it wasn't all a pie social, that homesteading. There was a lot of hard work and prices to take a lick at, and when one wasn't fighting prices, there were the mosquitoes. Pa bought three more quarters of land a little later. A drought in the late teens took our crop, and we learned what it was to have to buy feed at an extremely high price.
Ma took sick in the fall of 1924, She never re-covered, and bade farewell to this old world in 1925. Pa said good bye in 1926.
We who are left should never forget their example of courage and stamina in conquering the untamed areas of our beloved Canada.
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