Pioneering in Pleasant Valley

In Alix, Alberta on October 14, 2016 at 8:29 AM

From John Alexander McCutcheon – Sheila McCutcheon Sorensen

Johnny McCutcheon, my father, homesteaded S.W. 28-39-24-4 in Pleasant Valley in 1899.  He had nothing but the clothes he stood in when he left home.   I believe he worked for a Scotch couple, the McFarlanes, who lived along Haynes Creek.  Proving up was done the hard way, batching in a single board shack, clearing land with an axe and elbow grease, and breaking with a walking plow.  But in August of 1902, the quarter became his.  Two years later he married Agnes Hall.  She had come as a girl with her family from Nottingham, England where they worked in the lace mills, to Winnipeg where Granddad Hall and eldest son Dick worked in the C.P.R. shops….  Then they came west and homesteaded S.E 1/414-39-25-4.  I’ve often wondered how they and other city-reared people coped with the loneliness, and the backbreaking work necessary to exist; not to mention the hordes of mosquitos in the wet years (they were so bad, grown men were known to sit down and weep when hunting for stock in the dense bush).

In those early days no one was turned away who needed an overnight stopping place…

Many were the dances attended by young and old, and box socials, held in North Star School….

…[M]usic was always available.  The one who stands out most vividly in my memory was Nat Jameson and his banjo….

From a child’s point of view, Christmas concert was the highlight of the year.  Mother helped the teacher make bags of colored net into which treats supplied by the school board… were apportioned  How excited we were about putting our best foot forward on the stage. And the almost unbearable wait for Santa’s arrival with a treat, and hopefully a gift, for each child!

All farming was done by horse, or mule power. Breaking the “broncs” to pull plow, harrow or drill without kicking it, or the driver, to pieces, was an art in itself.

This article is taken from published in Pioneers and Progress, Alix-Clive Historical Club, 1974.It is available for sale at Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, Alix Public Library, and Alix Home Hardware

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